Marine Biology - Study Sheets
Marine EcologyReturn to the Study Guides Index

The following questions will help you to review the material from the lectures and the text. In this section you should also study the lab exercise on marine ecology (the computer simulation).
  1. What does an ecologist study?
  2. What are the different "levels" of the field of ecology? Briefly define each of these "levels".
  3. What is the difference between biotic and abiotic factors? Give three examples of each.
  4. What is the connection between evolutionary theory and ecology?
  5. Define exponential population growth.
  6. Consider a population that doubles every 2 weeks. Your calculations indicate that when the population reaches a level of 6,000 individuals it will be taking up all the resources in their habitat. This will occur around March 1, 2006. You have decided to act when the populations is at a level of 3,000 individuals. On what date do you need to act? What is the take-home lesson of population growth based on this simple example?
  7. Define carrying capacity (K). What is the importance of this concept in marine biology?
  8. Why does does population growth slow as the level of the population is approaching K? What kind of factors come into play?
  9. Define community. What do you study as a community ecologist?
  10. Explain the concept of competition.
  11. What is the difference between interspecific and intraspecific competition? Give an example of each.
  12. Define the niche concept.
  13. How does the example of the barnacle species Balanus and Chthamalus illustrate the process of competition and the niche concept?
  14. How does resource partitioning reduce competition?
  15. What is resource partitioning? Use the example of the variety of shorebirds and their morphological variation to explain the concept.
  16. What is coevolution? What is the effect of coevolution on the interactions within a community?
  17. What are the different "forces" that shape a community?
  18. What is the role of predation in this process. Can you think about any examples of how the process of predation has shaped the interactions in a marine community?
  19. What is symbiosis? What are the different types of symbiosis? Give a marine example of each type.
  20. In which of these categories do zooxanthellae fit in? Explain.
  21. Define the concept of an ecosystem. What do you study as an ecosystem ecologist?
  22. What is the ultimate origin of most of the energy that flows through an ecosystem? What is the ultimate fate of this energy?
  23. How does the flow of energy through an ecosystem contrast with the flow of elements?
  24. What is a producer? A consumer? Examples? What are trophic levels?
  25. What is the difference between an autotroph and a heterotroph?
  26. Give an example of an aquatic food chain. Label the different trophic levels in the chain.
  27. What is the importance of decomposers? What kind of organisms are decomposers? What is detritus? What is DOM?
  28. How do marine food chains differ from terrestrial food chains?
  29. A food chain is a pedagogical device to understand interactions between different trophic levels. The interactions in a community are better described with the help of a food web. Why is that? What is a food web?
  30. How does an organism use the energy that it takes in through food items? What happens to the bulk of the energy contained in the food matter?
  31. How much of the energy from the sun light is actually captured in a producer? How much is lost?
  32. Approximately how much of the energy moves from one trophic level to another? What happens to the rest of the energy?
  33. Why do baleen whales feed on the lower levels of the food chain?
  34. Is there a connection between the number of individual organisms and the amount of energy present on each trophic level? Explain.
  35. How do terrestrial and aquatic food chains differ in terms of biomass and energy flow between each trophic level?
  36. What is primary productivity? How is it measured? What does it indicate about an ecosystem?
  37. Which of the marine biomes are most productive (top three?). Least productive?
  38. How does the productivity of these biomes compare to the terrestrial environment?
  39. Indicate on a map the most productive areas of the world's oceans.
  40. What is a biogeochemical cycle? What do you learn from such cycles? Use the carbon cycle to illustrate how the element carbon (C) moves between different biological and geological components.
  41. What is the difference between plankton, nekton and the benthos? Between phytoplankton and zooplankton? Between epifauna and infauna?
  42. Briefly outline the different zones in the marine environment based on the distance from land and the water depth.

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Updated: November 5,  2008