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Lesson 8. Ecosystems bring it all together

Ex. 41. Translate the following text into your native language.

Ecosystems Bring It All Together

Life thrives in every environment on Earth, and each of those environments is its own ecosystem, a group of living and nonliving things that interact with each other in a particular environment. An ecosystem is essentially a little machine made up of living and nonliving parts. The living parts, called biotic factors, are all the organisms that live in the area. The nonliving parts, called abiotic factors, are the nonliving things in the area (think air, sunlight, and soil).

Ecosystems exist in the world’s oceans, rivers, forests — they even exist in your backyard and local park. They can be as huge as the Amazon rain forest or as small as a rotting log. The catch is that the larger an ecosystem is, the greater the number of smaller ecosystems existing within it. For example, the ecosystem of the Amazon rain forest also consists of the soil ecosystem and the cloud forest ecosystem (found at the tops of the trees).

A particular branch of science called ecology is devoted to the study of eco-systems, specifically how organisms interact with each other and their environment. Scientists who work in this branch are called ecologists, and they look at the interactions between living things and their environment on many different scales, from large to small.

The sections that follow explain how ecologists classify Earth’s various eco-systems and how they describe the interactions between the planet’s many species. Before you check them out, take a look at Figure 11-1 to get an idea of how living things are organized.

Figure 5. The Organization Of Living Things.

Ex. 42. Fill the gaps with the words from the list below. Be ready to interpret the text.

Community, tundra biomes, biomes, forest biomes, freshwater biomes, marine biomes, grassland biomes, desert biomes

All the living things together in an ecosystem form a … . For example, a forest community may contain trees, shrubs, wildflowers, squirrels, birds, bats, insects, mushrooms, bacteria, and much more. The different types of communities found on Earth are called … . Six major types of biomes exist:

✓ … include ponds, rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands. Only about 3 percent of the Earth’s surface is made up of freshwater, but freshwater biomes are home to many different species, including plants, algae, fish, and insects.

✓ … contain saltwater and include the oceans, coral reefs, and estuaries. They cover 75 percent of the Earth’s surface and are very important to the planet’s oxygen and food supply — more than half the photosynthesis that occurs on Earth occurs in the ocean.

✓ … receive minimal amounts of rainfall and cover approximately 20 percent of the Earth’s surface. Plants and animals that live in deserts have special adaptations, such as the ability to store water or only grow during the rainy season, to help them survive in the low-water environment. Some familiar desert inhabitants are cacti, reptiles, birds, camels, rabbits, and dingoes.

✓ … contain many trees or other woody vegetation; cover about 30 percent of the Earth’s surface; and are home to many different plants and animals, including trees, skunks, squirrels, wolves, bears, birds, and wildcats. They’re important for global carbon balance because they pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis.

✓ … are dominated by grasses, but they’re also home to many other species, such as birds, zebras, giraffes, lions, buffaloes, termites, and hyenas. Grasslands cover about 30 percent of the Earth’s surface and are typically flat, have few trees, and possess rich soil. Because of these features, people converted many natural grasslands for agricultural purposes.

✓ … are very cold and have very little liquid water. Tundras cover about 15 percent of the planet’s surface and are found at the poles of the Earth as well as at high elevations. Arctic tundras are home to organisms such as arctic foxes, caribou, and polar bears, whereas mountain tundras are home to mountain goats, elk, and birds. In both types of tundra, nutrients are typically scarce, and the growing seasons are quite short.

Ex. 43. Translate the following text into your native language. Find the synonyms for the words in italics among the terms from the list below.

Autotrophs, herbivores, carnivores, carnivores

One of the most fundamental ways that organisms interact with each other is eating each other. In fact, all the various organisms in an ecosystem can be divided into four categories called trophic levels based on how they get their food:

Producers make their own food. Plants, algae, and green bacteria are all producers that use energy from the Sun to combine carbon dioxide and water and form carbohydrates via photosynthesis.

✓ Primary consumers eat producers. Because producers are mainly plants, primary consumers are also called plant-eating animals.

✓ Secondary consumers eat primary consumers. Because primary consumers are animals, secondary consumers are also called meat-eating animals.

✓ Tertiary consumers eat secondary consumers, so they’re also considered meat-eating animals.

Organisms in the different trophic levels are linked together in a food chain, a sequence of organisms in a community in which each organism feeds on the one below it in the chain. Figure 6 shows a depiction of a simple food chain.

Figure 6. The Energy Flow In Ecosystems

Ex. 44. Translate the following text into English.

При вивченні біотичної структури екосистем стає очевидним, що одними з найважливіших взаємовідносин між організмами є харчові, або трофічні, зв'язки.

Термін "ланцюг живлення" запропонував Ч. Елтон у 1934 р. Ланцюги живлення, або трофічні ланцюги, – це шляхи перенесення енергії їжі від її джерела (зеленої рослини) через ряд організмів на більш високі трофічні рівні.

Крім трофічних ланцюгів, в екології є поняття харчових (трофічних) сіток. Вони утворюються тому, що практично будь-який член будь-якого харчового ланцюга одночасно є ланкою і в іншому трофічному ланцюзі, тобто він споживає і його споживають декілька видів інших організмів. Наприклад, лучний вовк-койот може харчуватися до 14 тис. видами тварин і рослин. Можливо, таку саму кількість видів можуть споживати і ті організми, які беруть участь у поїданні, розкладанні та деструкції речовин трупу цього вовка.

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