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Ecology (Essay Sample)


The textbook is your guide to the expected level of detail and complexity, because each question could be answered at many levels. For example, an entire book could be written about any single question by a PhD candidate, whereas a single paragraph might suffice for an introductory biology class. You should be as extensive as the assigned readings in the textbook.
Your answers should include citations from the textbook.
You are encouraged not to use any web sources.
You are encouraged not to cite any sources other than the textbook and the discussion boards.
There is no minimum length, since your individual writing ability and style influences how efficiently you can answer the questions.
All your answers should include examples, either hypothetical or real.
What is a model? What is the relationship between hypotheses and models? Why is making use of a model as a descriptive index for an ecosystem such a difficult, if not impossible, task?
In the topic of community dynamics, what are five different types of relationships found between the organisms of the community? Use specific species examples to explain each relationship.
List three different nutrients that are cycled through an ecosystem. Describe one in detail. Explain, using a specific example, how one type of human disturbance disrupts this nutrient cycling.


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Question 1
A model is defined as a condensed, basic representation of the real systems. Models are useful in that they enables one predict the behavior characteristics and the responses based on certain assumptions (Thomas & Robert Smith, p. 9). Further experiments and observations apply while testing these behaviors. Models can either be verbally descriptive, mathematical or similar to the computer simulations.
Hypotheses are models but the term model applies to hypothesis which provides partial supports from observation and experimental results. For instance, the hypothesis connecting the production of grass to the availability of nitrogen is a model. It is because it predicts that the production of grass, and other plants for that matter, will increase the availability of nitrogen. Although, this is a qualitative prediction since it does not inform the observer about the number with which the production will increase (Thomas & Robert Smith, p. 9).
A descriptive index of an ecosystem is a difficult task since the concept bears no permanence. By this, I mean that to interpret the ecosystem, one needs to simplify it into small units so that it may fit in the design experiments. However, as the research progresses it becomes hard to concentrate on the cause and the effect of a given phenomena. Therefore, the model will only provide partial information on the area that the research will be focused. Still, the predictions that can be made from the hypothesis supporting observation and experimental designs would be insufficient (Thomas & Robert Smith, p. 16). Subsequently, the researcher will be subjected to further constraints of simplifying the phenomena to make it simpler to understand; a process that will involve further expansion of the hypotheses to cover a wide range of conditions. These challenges underline the constraints of using descriptive model on the ecosystem. Question 2 There are different types of relationships found in organisms of a community. They include: i) Mutual relationship for herbivores-the bacteria and protozoa
Within the digestive system of the herbivores bacteria and protozoa play a critical role in the digestion of materials. These organisms carry out the fermentation process in the chambers of the ruminants. The inhabitants of the rumen are mainly anaerobic, adapted to survive in abnormal environment (Thomas & Robert Smith, p. 345). Besides ruminants as the best examples of the mutual interactions between organisms of a community, the stomachs of nearly all the herbivorous mammals and some species of the birds and lizards depends on availability of multifaceted microbial community to digest cellulose in the plant tissues. ii) Relationships in the uptake of nutrient by plants
Despite the availability of Nitrogen in the atmosphere, it must be converted into a usable form by the plants. Nitrogen fixing bacteria such as rhizobia chemically convert the gaseous nitrogen into a useful state. These bacteria are distributed widely in the soil to grow and multiply quickly. For instance, legumes attract these bacteria by releasing exudates and enzymes from the roots. Rhizobia penetrate the root hairs of the plant, multiplying and increasing in size. Consequently, the invasions lead to the formation of the root ...
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