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Chapter 50 Ecology


Chapter 50 Ecology & The Biosphere By: Justin Martinez, Izabela Kolodziejska, Anne Simonetti, Ashley Davis Ecology and evolutionary biology are closely related sciences. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Chapter 50 Ecology

Chapter 50Ecology The Biosphere
  • By Justin Martinez, Izabela Kolodziejska, Anne
    Simonetti, Ashley Davis

Ecology is the study of interactions between
organisms and their environment. Rachel Carson
shows her readers that in an environment one
poisoned creature could upset the whole system.
Carson states In this unseen world, minute
causes produce mighty effects.
  • Ecology and evolutionary biology are closely
    related sciences. Events that occur in the
    framework of ecological time (minutes, months,
    and years) will translate into effects over the
    longer scale of evolutionary time ( decades,
    centuries , millennia).
  • In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson writes about the
    shocking and dangerous reduction of all the
    earths natural resources for balancing insect
    populations. She recognized that chemical
    poisoning kills insects only for a short span of
    time the insects will begin the develop
    resistance to these chemicals, an evolutionary
    effect. The chemicals kill the natural predators
    of the insects and allow insects to grow greater
    and greater in number.

  • A population is a group of individuals of the
    same species living in a particular geographic
    area. Population ecology focuses on factors that
    affect how many individuals of a particular
    species live in an area. A community contains all
    the organisms of all the species that inhabit a
    particular area.
  • Throughout Silent Spring, Rachel Carson discusses
    various populations and communities that were
    affected greatly by the use of pesticides. The
    massive spraying operations had caused most of
    the bird population to die. These birds were
    killed in massive number because the birds ate
    the insects and worms that contained DDT. The
    salmon population of the Miramichi river
    community was also greatly affected by a massive
    spraying campaign that was supposed to kill off
    the spruce budworm that was threatening forest
    life. A massive amount of the salmon population
    was killed by these pesticides. The whole river
    community was affected. Even the salmon that
    werent killed were affected since their food was

  • The environment of any organism includes abiotic
    and biotic components. Abiotic components are
    nonliving components such as temperature, light,
    water, and nutrients. Biotic components are
    living components including all organisms.
  • In her book, Rachel Carson writes about the
    affects of the insecticides on abiotic and biotic
  • An abiotic component that was affected, for
    example, was water. The use of pesticides caused
    water pollution. The chemicals from these
    pesticides were washed into bodies of water and
    seeped into the soil.
  • Carson tell us that it is not possible to add
    pesticides to water anywhere without threatening
    the purity of water everywhere.
  • Biotic components were also affected by the
    pollution of the groundwater. An example of this
    in the book is when poisonous chemicals flowed
    through the groundwater from a manufacturing
    plant in Colorado to a farming district. The
    wells became poisoned, thus causing the death of
    animals and crops.
  • Environmentalism is advocating for the protection
    or preservation of the natural environment. We
    need to understand the complicated relationships
    between organisms and the environment in order to
    address environmental problems. These
    relationships could be understood through the
    science of ecology. 
  • In 1962, our society became aware of certain
    environmental issues through Rachel Carsons
    Silent Spring. Rachel Carson warned the public
    that the widespread use of pesticides caused
    population declines in many organisms that were
    non-target species. These pesticides contaminated
    soil, water, and food.
  • Carsons says the control of nature is a phrase
    conceived in arrogance born of the Neanderthal
    age of biology and philosophy, when it was
    supposed that nature exists for the convenience
    of man.

Interactions between organisms and the
environment limit the distribution of species
  • Biotic Factors
  • In Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, DDT and other
    insecticides were the cause of countless deaths
    amongst flourishing species.
  • The insecticides would poison the animals once
    they encountered the deadly chemicals, attacking
    their nervous systems and causing them to die
    slowly from the outrageous amounts of poison that
    their bodies took in.
  • The insecticides were somewhat like what a
    disease would do if it were naturally occurring
    and not introduced by man. Like a disease, the
    insecticides caused the rapid deaths of animals,
    and the unstoppable spreading of these life
    threatening chemicals through the interaction of
    species with one another. The insecticides caused
    a mass disturbance, which is a force that changes
    a biological community and usually removes
    organisms from it.
  • An example in the book where insecticides portray
    a deadly disease that cause life long effects
    occurs when Endrin was used to have a house
    sprayed for cockroaches. The child was removed
    from the house during the spraying of the
    chemical. The house was then cleaned and the
    child was taken back inside the house. The child
    went into convulsions and lost consciousness
    causing him to go into a vegetative state

S o I l
  • Soil limits the distribution of plants and thus
    of the animals that feed upon them. In streams
    and rivers, the composition of the substrate can
    affect water chemistry, which in turn influences
    the resident organisms.
  • Soil is created from living and non-living
    things. Without it land plants wouldnt exist,
    and without plants animals wouldnt survive.
  • Insecticides damage the soil and prevent it from
    following through with vital processes one of
    these being nitrification which makes nitrogen in
    the air available to plants to help them grow.

Insecticides also alter the soil by killing off
certain organisms while allowing the organisms
who survive to ultimately become over populated
and pestilences. Pesticides remain in the soil
for up to twelve years after one spraying
therefore after countless sprayings it is almost
impossible to remove the chemicals from the soil,
which contaminates the crops growing in this
  • Water
  • -The dramatic variation in water availability
    among habitats is another important factor in
    species distribution. Freshwater and marine
    organisms live submerged in aquatic environments,
    but most are restricted to either freshwater or
    saltwater habitats by their limited ability for
    osmoregulation. Water is essential for the
    well-being of all organisms, and in Rachel
    Carsons Silent Spring, the gruesome effects of
    radioactive wastes, nuclear explosions, domestic
    waste, and chemical sprays are shown.
  • -Because chemical sprays are carried through the
    air from forest spraying, or seep into nearby
    rivers and streams, water is contaminated,
    causing the innumerable deaths of fish and other
    species living in these waters. Chemicals were
    found stored in the fat of fishes.
  • -Ground water is the most disturbing case of all.
    Ground water comes from rain fall that settles in
    the earth and creates its own underground sea.
    This water is contaminated with chemicals, thus
    poisoning the earth and whatever streams and
    rivers it enters. All the water on earth was once
    ground water, therefore all the water on earth is
    being affected by pesticides.
  • -An example of this was when the Rocky Mountain
    Arsenal of the Army Chemical Cops, located near
    Denver, began to manufacture war materials. Eight
    years later the facilities of the arsenal were
    leased to a private oil company for the
    production of insecticides. After this,
    mysterious reports came in stating that farmers
    several miles away from the plant began to report
    unexplained sickness among livestock and crop
    damage. The irrigation waters on these farms were
    derived from shallow wells. When the well waters
    were examined they were found to contain an
    assortment of chemicals including 2,4-D, thus
    explaining the mysterious events happening on
    near by farms.
  • -A second example includes the case of Clear Lake
    where DDD was dumped into the lakes to stop gnats
    and other unwanted organisms in or around the
    lake. The pesticide was stored in all the animals
    of lake from plankton to birds. Species were
    dying off rapidly and the chemical couldnt be
    detected because it had gone into the fabric of
    life the lake supports. Twenty-three months went
    by, and still the chemical was still present in

  • As previously mentioned, Rachel Carson brings up
    the problem of water pollution by pesticides in
    her novel Silent Spring.

90 of wetlands have been destroyed in some
regions due to draining and filling. Many lakes
are now faced with algal blooms, oxygen deletion,
and fish kills because pollution by runoff from
fertilized land and dumping of wastes. Filling,
dredging, and pollution from upstream have
disrupted estuaries worldwide.
Pollution of our waterways comes from
laboratories, reactors, and hospitals that
release radioactive wastes. Chemical wastes are
discharged from factories and domestic wastes are
yielded from towns and cities. Chemical spraying,
as Carson writes, has added more chaos to this
  • The human race is too ingenious for its own good
    Man has acquired the power to alter the nature
    of his own world.
  • -Rachel Carson