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
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.