BASIC ECOLOGICAL CONCEPTS: INTRODUCTION, ECOLOGICAL CONCEPTS, COMPONENTS OF AN ECOSYSTEM, INTERACTIONS, BIOTIC COMMUNITIES

Ecology is the study of the inter-relationships between living organisms and their external environment. This inter-relationship brings about a peace co-existence and co-operation in their living. Also, this fosters the growth of the habitat, increases web and food chain, introduces varieties and adapts them for survival.

ECOSYSTEM- COMPONENTS AND SIZES

ECOLOGICAL CONCEPTS
1. Environment: This is the sum total of the biotic and abiotic factors that actually affect individual organisms.
2. BIOSPHERE: This is the part of the earth in which living organism exist and with which they exchange materials.
3. HYDROSPHERE: This is the part of the earth occupied by water
4. ATMOSPHERE: This is the part of the earth occupied by air
5. HABITAT: This is a place where species of organisms live. The broad classification of habitats include terrestrial, aboreal, and aquatic.
6. NICHE: This is the place and role in a biological community occupied by a particular specie.
7. SPECIE: These are groups of organisms which resembles one another and can inter breed freely.
8. AUTECOLOGY: This is the study of a single specie of organism and its environment.
9. SYNECOLOGY: This is the study of inter-relationships between group of organisms living together in an area and their environment.
10. POPULATION: This are the number of individuals of the same species interacting in a habitat at a particular time.
11. COMMUNITY: These are organisms of different species, living together in a habitat at a particular time.
12. ECOSYSTEM: This is a community of organisms interacting with one another and with their non living surroundings.
13. BIOME: This is a distinctive plant and animal community produced and maintained by the climate.

COMPONENTS OF AN ECOSYSTEM
Abiotic and biotic are the two major components of an ecosystem. On the other hand, ecosystems may be grouped into aquatic and terrestrial.
1. The abiotic community includes temperature, rainfall, humidity, light, wind, gases, pressure, etc.
2. The boitic community includes mainly the plants and animals. Here, it is composed of the green plants, decomposers, and animals.
3. Aquatic habitat may be divided into marine and fresh water. Marine habitat has high salt concentrations while the fresh water habitat is without noticable quantities of salt.
4. Terrestial or land which includes grasses, marsh lands, forests, grasslands, and arid lands. Aboreal and Aerial habitats are special parts of the terrestrial habitat.

INTERACTIONS AMONG THE COMPONENTS OF AN ECOSYSTEM
1. Green plants and light interaction for photosynthesis.
2. Carbon (IV) Oxide and water are used by green plants for photosynthesis or for production of carbohydrates.
3. Animals feed on green plants.
4. Plants release oxygen for animals to breathe in.
5. Animals release carbon (IV) oxide for plants to breathe in.
6. Plants absorb water/mineral salt for their growth.
7. Microorganisms break down dead plants and other organisms to release nutrients which are absorbed by plants.

LOCAL BIOTIC COMMUNITIES
These are communities that exists in the ecosystem. They are listed below;
1. TROPICAL RAIN FOREST: Rainfall is abundant and evenly distributed. The mean annual rainfall is over 1,250mm and mean monthly temperature is 50 degree. these support a luxuriant vegetation. The forest is made up of tall trees with canopy strats. Epiphytes s, shrubs, herbs, and chambers are also common features of the tropical rainforest. The forest interior has low light intensity, high humidity, still aor, and damp floor. Trees present are iroko, mahogany, silk, cotton, oil palm, mango and coconut trees. Animals found here are mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. This type of forest is found in the Southern parts of Nigeria such as Lagos, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Cross River, Imo, Enugu and Anambra states.

SAVANNA (GRASSLAND)
The temperature and light intensity in this region are usually high all the year round. The relative humidity is low and the rainfall is scanty. The vegetation is therefore grassland with scattered short trees. There are four main types of savanna which are Derived, Guinea, Sudan and Sahel savanna.
The Guinea savanna is further divided into
1. SOUTHERN GUINEA SAVANNA: It joins the forest areas and is composed of open woodland savanna with tall grasses. Most of the trees and shrubs are scattered and almost deciduous. A few short trees found there are Afzelia africanna, Butyrospernnum parkii, Daniella oliveri, and Butter trees. Animals present are grass cutters, deer,rats, guinea fowls, snakes and insects like termites. This zone is found in Enugu, Niger, Kaduna, Benue and Adamawa States.
2. NORTHERN GUINEA SAVANNA
This region is similar to the southern guinea but the only difference is the trees found in this region are more shorter and thorny. these include Isoberlina doka and Uopaca somon. Animals found in this region are similar to other savanna regions. This zone is found in Kano, and Sokoto states.
SUDAN SAVANNA
This zone is drier than guinea zone before it. The rainfall is lower and the dry season is more severe. The trees found here are mostly deciduous with small leaves. E.g. Acacia, which are adapted to water conservation.
SAHEL SAVANNA
This is found in the extreme north of Borno state of Nigeria and near Lake Chad. The annual rainfall here is less than 250mm. Short trees with small leaves and thorns are found in this open grassland. The grasses are short and sparse. Trees found here are Euphorbia and date palms.

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