Ecology and biomes biology lesson for kids: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grades biology lesson.
Life on the planet Earth is divided into ecosystems, communities of plants and animals that suited to the environment they live in. Forests and coral reefs are examples of ecosystems. The study of these plants and animals that live in ecosystems and their relationships with the physical environment is called ecology.
To study the ecology of an environment, scientists don’t just study the living things. They also pay attention to things like the soil, wind, water, and even fire. All of these can affect life in both positive and negative ways.
Along with ecosystems, one important concept in ecology is biodiversity, how many different types of living things live within a specific area. It’s important because it tells us how healthy an environment is. Coral reefs, for example, are very important for the ocean because they have the highest biodiversity in the world, even more than rainforests. If a coral reef starts to die out, a lot of living things will end up dying out, too, which lowers biodiversity.
Within ecosystems, energy and nutrients move along food chains. Plants gather energy from the sun and nutrients from the environment. These plants are eaten by animals, who are then eaten by other animals, continuing the chain.
Every living thing along the food chain is important to maintain the delicate balance that allows life to keep going. The role each one plays is called its niche, and it’s important for every living thing to occupy a different niche in the ecosystem so they don’t compete for resources.
There are lots of different niches. Plants, for example, are producers, converting the sun’s energy into a form that animals can use and animal are called consumers because they have to eat to get energy and nutrients. There are also predators, which eat other animals, and prey, the animals that are eaten. Another niche is the pollinators, which help plants move pollen from one flower to another. This allows flowers to develop into fruits, which contain seeds that will grow into new plants.
As long as living things stick to their niches, things go well for the ecosystem, but sometimes things can go wrong. One way things can go very wrong is when invasive species enter an ecosystem. These are organisms from other places that cause problems when they come into a new environment. For example, in the 18th century, people took rabbits to Australia. They didn’t have any natural predators, and so they grew in number and ended up destroying crops and eating so many wild plants that there wasn’t much left. Sometimes, people have to find ways to get rid of these invasive species, using ecological data to help fight their spread.
As you can see, ecology is an important field of study for scientists, because it tells us not only how plants and animals naturally relate to each other, but the impact that humans can have on ecosystems, too.