Vanier College Address 821 Sainte-Croix, Montréal, Québec Canada H4L 3X9 Vanier College Telephone 514.744.7500 Vanier College Fax 514.744.7505

STEM Centre
 
> STEM Centre > Les mots de la science en anglais > Biology > Ecology
 
Read the following text and test your knowledge by answering the associated questions below. Clicking on the words in blue will give you it's definition as well as the words translation in French.


 

Wild ZebraA population of different species living together is called a community. A lion, a zebra, a hyena and a giraffe living in one area in Kenya is an example. The distribution of living things in an area depends on the abiotic factors or the non-living variables present. Examples of abiotic factors in the savanna include: the amount of sunlight, precipitation and temperature.

All living beings need energy to survive. Plants are primary producers, they convert the energy from sunlight into glucose by a process called photosynthesis. Consumers depend on other organisms for their energy. Decomposers break down dead bodies into nutrients which can return into the soil. In the savanna, a zebra eats grass. The zebra is then eaten by a lion. The lion is attacked by another lion and dies. Worms will decompose the lion's body. This simple relationship is called a food chain.

In an ecosystem, relationships are more complicated than one species eating another. Somtimes, an organism called a parasite will live on or in a host organism and derive their food from the host, without killing it outright. This is called parasitism. For example, a tick living on an elephant will drink the elephant's blood without killing the elephant. Other times, species will live together in a relationship called symbiosis. Mutualism is a type of symbiosis that is beneficial for both partners. For example, a bird will eat the ticks on an elephant. The elephant gets rid of the ticks and the bird gets an easy meal. Commensalism is a type of symbiosis where one partner benefits without significantly affecting the other. For example, a plant seed will hook itself onto the fur of a lion and will land somewhere else. This aids in its dispersal but does not benefit the lion.