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Full Option Science System – Middle School

OVERVIEW

Populations and Ecosystems Course

WELCOME TO AN ECOSYSTEM

Look around...you’re in an ecosystem. How do you know? Because there are organisms everywhere. An ecosystem is an organizational unit of life on Earth, defined by a physical environment and the organisms that live there.

Organisms depend on their ecosystem for survival. Disruption to one element of the ecosystem produces waves and ripples that touch every member of the system. The ripple’s impact on an individual organism depends on the relationship between the organism and the change as well as the traits expressed by the individual. Changes may produce pressures in the ecosystem.


When changes in ecosystems are incremental, genetic flexibility may allow a population to change over time to adjust to the new conditions. When change is precipitous, a population may be exterminated.

One powerful change agent in just about every ecosystem on Earth is humans. Human mobility, technology, and institutions place pressures on many ecosystems. The first step toward placing less disruptive pressure on natural systems is understanding how they work and what they need to remain healthy.

This course provides students with the first steps along the path of ecological understanding, with the hope that their future steps will be considered and measured, serving the interests of all life.

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