Ecology: Ecological concepts explained

len Alfred Ajibola - Tue, 07th January, 2020 @ 9:58 PM

Topics in Biology

Tropical savanna explained with its characteristics Ecological pyramid explained with its importance and limitations Hindbrain: Medulla Oblongata and its features Food web explained with examples Biology Scheme of Work, SS1, First Term Biology Scheme of Work, SS1, 2nd Term Biology Scheme of Work, SS1, 3rd Term Male accessory sex organs: Seminal vesicles and bulbourethral glands Scrotum and its contents: Testicles Brain: Introduction to the human brain Forebrain: Lobes of the cerebrum and their functions Cerebellum: Parts and functions of the cerebellum Midbrain: Division and functions of the midbrain Negative feedback mechanism in homeostasis Arterial disorders explained with their causes Types of desert and their characteristics Characteristics of tropical rainforest Swamp forest: What are swamp forests? Characteristics of swamp forests Savanna biome: Concept of the savanna

Academic Questions in Biology

Please check out our Test Your Knowledge page to see all Questions and Answers

In a food chain, the primary consumers are classified under trophic level  _____.

  • A. Zero

  • B. One

  • C. Two

  • D. Three

  • E. Four

  • F. Five

Cold blooded animals are referred to as _____.

  • A. Homeotherms

  • B. Endotherms

  • C. Poilokitherms

  • D. Ectotherms

  • E. Thermotherms

  • F. None of the above

All reptiles are vertebrates.

  • A. True

  • B. False

_____ cells are responsible for the formation of osteoblasts.

  • A. Osteocytes
  • B. Chondrocytes
  • C. Chondroblasts
  • D. Osteoclasts
  • E. Osteoprogenitor cells
  • F. Osteoblastic

_____ is a bone that constitute the axial skeleton.

  • A. Clavicle
  • B. Scapula
  • C. Patella
  • D. Radius
  • E. Sternum
  • F. Femur

Which of the following is false concerning cartilages and bones?

  • A. Cartilage does not have a direct blood supply while bones have direct blood supply
  • B. The process of ossification replaces a cartilage to bone
  • C. The protein that makes up cartilage is called chondrin while that that makes up bone is called ossein
  • D. Cartilage grows from both ends while bones grow from one of its epiphysis
  • E. They both have living cells within them
  • F. Haversian system is absent in cartilage but present in bones

A diagram showing the movement of energy through a food chain is called a _____.

  • A. Food Chain
  • B. Food Web
  • C. Food Energy
  • D. Food Link
  • E. Food Flow
  • F. Food Pyramid

Which of the following is NOT a part of the wrist bones (or carpal bones)?

  • A. Cuboid
  • B. Scaphoid
  • C. Hamate
  • D. Triquetral
  • E. Pisiform
  • F. Trapezium



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Ecological Concepts:

To get a better understanding of ecology, it's important we comprehend some important ecological concepts.

Below are explanations on some important ecological concepts:

Please read an introduction to ecology here.

  • Environment

Your environment is defined as all the factors around you. For instance, the phone or computer on which you are reading this article is a part of your environment.

Everything you can see and even those you can't see (like the bacteria and other microscopic organisms) are all part of your environment. In short, your environment is made up of the living and non-living things around you.

Note: We also have an internal environment. One of the reasons why we fall sick is due to some alterations in the physiology of our internal environment.

Homeostasis is a topic in biology that explains the internal environment.

Please read on homeostasis here.


  • Biosphere

The biosphere is that part of the earth containing life (or living organisms). Think of it as the region on earth where life exists.

You can read on the basic characteristics of life here.

Understand that the entire surface of the earth make up the biosphere. Meanwhile, the biosphere is also referred to as the ecosphere and it consist of three main parts. These are:

  1. Lithosphere: This is the solid part of the biosphere where life exists. According to scientist, the lithosphere represents about 30% of the earth's surface.

    You can read on the biblical account of creation here.

    Visible on the lithosphere are the soil, rocks, sand, minerals and so on. Also, various human settlements are structured on the lithosphere.

    Please read on rocks and types of rock here.

  2. Hydrosphere: This is the liquid part of the biosphere. It makes up about 70% of the earth's surface.

    The hydrosphere holds water in it's liquid state; although it may also hold water in it's solid and gaseous states.

    Please read on the liquid state of matter here.

    Examples of the hydrosphere include lakes, rivers, ponds, oasis, springs, seas and oceans.

  3. Atmosphere: This is the part of the earth containing air. The atmosphere is present above the surface of the earth; and can be put into different layers depending on its distance from the earth's surface.

    As an instance, aeroplanes will normally fly at a specific layer of the atmosphere called stratosphere.

    Please read more on the layers of the atmosphere here.

    Examples of organisms found in the atmosphere include birds, owls and insects.


  • Biome

The biome is a large area of the lithosphere (land) consisting of a variety of naturally occurring group of organisms (plants and animals) living and interacting with one another in the same environment.

A biome is usually present on the lithosphere. The hydrosphere and atmosphere are normally not associated with a biome.

Examples of biomes include:

  • Tropical Rainforest

  • Savanna or Grassland

  • Swamp Forest

  • Desert

  • Montane Forest

Please read more on tropical rainforest biome here.

The biome has a unique climate and consists of the largest community of organisms in a large area of land. In fact, the plants and animals present in a biome are adapted to survive under the climatic conditions of such biomes. For this reason, the plants and animals present in one biome (savanna for instance) may be absent in another biome; (for instance, desert).

Please read more on biomes here.

A grassland or savanna is a biome consisting of naturally occuring organisms like grasses, zebras, buffaloes and lions. The interaction between organisms in this biome are usually shown on television stations like (Nat-Geo Wild).

The biome is also referred to as a biotic community. In this regard, a biotic community may be defined as a diversity of different species of organisms interacting with one another in a large are area of land under a unique climate. This explanation on a biotic community gives a clue to the functioning of an ecosystem.

Please read more on the concept of an ecosystem here.


  • Habitat

This is the place or region occupied by a biotic community. It is the natural dwelling place of a variety of organisms. As an instance, different species of fishes will always live in water and that's their habitat. Conversely, the natural dwelling place (habitat) of a lion and dog will always be on land.

In another instance, a variety of birds will usually live on treetops and that's their habitat.

From the above instances, we can therefore put the habitat into three types. These are:

  1. Terrestrial Habitat: This refers to land as the natural dwelling place of organisms. Organisms living here are referred to as terrestrial organisms. Examples are humans and camels.

  2. Aquatic Habitat: It refers to water as the natural dwelling place of organisms. Aquatic organisms include fishes and crocodiles.
    Please read on reptiles and their characteristics here.

  3. Arboreal Habitat: The treetops are the natural dwelling place of organisms in an arboreal habitat. Arboreal organisms include the monkeys and birds.
    You can read on monkeys (primates) with their characteristics here.


  • Ecological Niche

This refers to the specific portion occupied by an organism in a habitat. It is the position where an organism functions in it's environment.

The instance below describes the ecological niches of two different organisms.

A caterpillar (larva of a butterfly) and a stem borer will normally live on plants. In some cases, both may live on the same plant while occupying different ecological niches. In this case, the caterpillar typically lives on the plant's leaf while stem borer lives on the stem of the same plant.

You can read on the pests of agricultural importance here.

From the above instance, the ecological niche occupied by the caterpillar is the leaf while that occupied by the stem borer is the stem (of the same plant). These are the functional positions of both organisms.

Please read on food chain here.

Note: The ecological niche may also be considered as the living space of a specific organism at a particular point in time.


  • Population

In regards to ecology, population can be defined as the total number of living organisms of the same specie living in a specific area.

It is important to state that the term population will always account for organisms of the same specie.

As an instance, we can have the population of humans or the population of rats or the population of tilapia fish in a particular area or habitat.


  • Ecosystem

The concept of the ecosystem can be quite broad. I have written a separate article on this topic (ecosystem). Please read it here.

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Alfred Ajibola is a Medical Biochemist, a passionate Academician with over 10 years of experience, a Versatile Writer, a Web Developer, a Cisco Certified Network Associate and a Cisco CyberOps Associate.

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Amazing facts in Biology

Panda eating bamboo - Len Academy

99% of a panda's diet is bamboo. They may eat fish or other small animals occasionally

When attacked by insects, lima beans plant will often command parasitic wasps to their defence.

When the leaves of the lima bean's leaves are eaten by insects, the plant gives off a substance that signals parasitic wasps to swam in, destroying its enemies (the leaf-eating insects) in the process

Frogs drink water through their skin

Armadillos - Len Academy

Armadillos are western mammals known for their unique armor-like shell which are bulletproof

Polka-dotted zebra - Len Academy

Although zebras are known for their characteristics black and white stripes, we still have some polka-dotted zebras

Charles Darwin is a British naturalist and biologist who contributed greatly into the study of evolution. According to research, he frequently ate the animals he studied

Lungs are the only human organ that can float on water

Unlike most snakes that lay eggs, anacondas give birth to live babies

Shrimp - Len Academy

A shrimp's heart is in its head

Women have more pain receptors than men


For a thing to be considered living, it must possess all the basic characteristics of life. These include:

  1. Movement

  2. Respiration

  3. Nutrition

  4. Irritability or Sensitivity

  5. Growth

  6. Excretion

  7. Reproduction

  8. Death

  9. Adaptation

  10. Competition

Please read the explanations on all the basic characteristics of life here

During strenuous exercises like sprinting or running, your body may actually work in the shortage of oxygen. During this time, your body owes oxygen (called oxygen debt) and it must be replenished or repayed after the exercise is stopped. This is why you breathe excess of oxygen after you stopped the exercise.

This is the concept of anaerobic respiration

Food Chain - Len Academy

A food chain is a diagram that shows the relationship between plants and animals within a habitat on the basis of how they rely on each other for food.

Note: Habitat is a place where an organism live. It is of three types:

  • Terrestrial (Land)
  • Aquatic (Water)
  • Arboreal (Treetops)

You can read on food chain here

The term Biology originated from two Greek words. They are:

  • Bios: means life.

  • Logos: means knowledge or to study.

Biology can therefore be defined as the study of life

Anything that has life is generally considered as a living organism (or organism). All living organisms must be able to carry the following activities:

  1. Movement

  2. Respiration

  3. Nutrition

  4. Irritability or Sensitivity

  5. Growth

  6. Excretion

  7. Reproduction

  8. Death

  9. Adaptation

  10. Competition

The above listed points are often regarded as the basic characteristics of life. You can memorize them using the acronym -> MR. NIGER DAC.

You can read on the introduction to biology and the basic characteristics of life here

The gas used in the manufacture of food by plants is Carbon dioxide or Carbon(IV)oxide or CO2

Plants manufacture food through a process called photosynthesis.

Please read on photosynthesis here

It is noteworthy to state that plants are the only orgnisms that take away CO2 from the atmosphere