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Ecosystems & Food Webs – Stage 6

Ecosystems & Food Webs – Stage 6

Course Codes

BIO11/12-5, BIO11/12-6, BIO11-9, BIO11-11, BIO12-12, ACSBL013, ACSBL018, ACSBL019, ACSBL020, ACSBL021, ACSBL023 – ACSBL029

Course Description

Ecosystems play an important role in our natural environment and are comprised of both living and non-living organisms. Students will learn that as both biotic and abiotic components link together through nutrient cycling and energy flow, ecosystems are more than just a geographic area. As students explore food webs and the components required to make an ecosystem, they will gain a better understanding of how animals and plants interact within their system and what is necessary to make it survive. Students will explore the relationships and interactions between species in ecosystems including predation, competition, food webs, symbiosis and disease, and analyse the dynamics and interrelationships of organisms within the ecosystem. In addition, students will briefly learn about the competitive exclusion principle, ecological carrying capacity and the role keystone species play in an ecosystem.

Course Details

  • BIO11/12-5 analyses and evaluates primary and secondary data and information
  • BIO11/12-6 solves scientific problems using primary and secondary data, critical thinking skills and scientific processes
  • BIO11-9 explains the structure and function of multicellular organisms and describes how the coordinated activities of cells, tissues and organs contribute to macroscopic processes in organisms
  • BIO11-11 analyses ecosystem dynamics and the interrelationships of organisms within the ecosystem
  • BIO12-12 explains the structures of DNA and analyses the mechanisms of inheritance and how processes of reproduction ensure continuity of species
  • Scientific knowledge can enable scientists to offer valid explanations and make reliable predictions (ACSBL013)
  • Most common definitions of species rely on morphological or genetic similarity or the ability to interbreed to produce fertile offspring in natural conditions – but, in all cases, exceptions are found (ACSBL018)
  • Ecosystems are diverse, composed of varied habitats and can be described in terms of their component species, species interactions and the abiotic factors that make up the environment (ACSBL019)
  • Relationships and interactions between species in ecosystems include predation, competition, symbiosis and disease (ACSBL020)
  • In addition to biotic factors, abiotic factors including climate and substrate can be used to describe and classify environments (ACSBL021)
  • Species or populations, including those of microorganisms, fill specific ecological niches; the competitive exclusion principle postulates that no two species can occupy the same niche in the same environment for an extended period of time (ACSBL023)
  • Keystone species play a critical role in maintaining the structure of the community; the impact of a reduction in numbers or the disappearance of keystone species on an ecosystem is greater than would be expected based on their relative abundance or total biomass (ACSBL024)
  • Ecosystems have carrying capacities that limit the number of organisms (within populations) they support, and can be impacted by changes to abiotic and biotic factors, including climatic events (ACSBL025)
  • Ecological succession involves changes in the populations of species present in a habitat; these changes impact the abiotic and biotic interactions in the community, which in turn influence further changes in the species present and their population size (ACSBL026)
  • Ecosystems can change dramatically over time; the fossil record and sedimentary rock characteristics provide evidence of past ecosystems and changes in biotic and abiotic components (ACSBL027)
  • Human activities (for example, over-exploitation, habitat destruction, monocultures, pollution) can reduce biodiversity and can impact on the magnitude, duration and speed of ecosystem change (ACSBL028)
  • Models of ecosystem interactions (for example, food webs, successional models) can be used to predict the impact of change and are based on interpretation of and extrapolation from sample data (for example, data derived from ecosystem surveying techniques); the reliability of the model is determined by the representativeness of the sampling (ACSBL029)

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