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Big Idea
Ecosystems are ever changing because of the interdependence of organisms of the same or different species and the nonliving elements of the environment.  Seeking matter and energy resources to sustain life, organisms in an ecosystem interact with one another in complex feeding hierarchies of producers, consumers, and decomposers, which together represent a food web.  Ecosystems have carrying capacities that limit the number of organisms they can support.  Individual survival and population sizes depend on such factors as predation, disease, availability of resources, and parameters of the physical environment.  Organisms rely on physical factors, such as light, temp, water, soil, and space for shelter and reproduction.  Within any one ecosystem, the biotic interactions between organisms further influence their growth, survival, and reproduction, both individually and in terms of their populations (A Framework for K-12 Science Education LS2.A).
Essential Questions
What do all ecosystems have in common?
What makes ecosystems different from each other?
What affect do humans have on ecosystems?

Formulate questions based on observations that lead to the development of a hypothesis.
Analyze environmental benefits of the following human interactions with biological or geological systems
  • reforestation
  • habitat restoration
  • construction of dams
Analyze the interactions of living organisms with their ecosystems
  • limiting factors
  • carrying capacity
Analyze environmental risks (e.g., pollution, destruction of habitat) caused by human interaction with biological or geological systems.
Create a project that shows deep knowledge of populations and ecosystems within specific ecoscenarios.
Content/Core Ideas
  • Similar ecosystems occur in areas of similar abiotic conditions on Earth.
  • An ecosystem is a group of interacting organisms and nonliving factors in a specified area.
  • All ecosystems have characteristics in common, such as trophic levels--producers, consumers, and decomposers.
Academic Vocabulary
  • ecosystem
  • population
  • habitat