Ecology Scavenger Hunt

By Vijitha Kantety and Ali Mithani


Ecology is the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings.
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Biotic vs. Abiotic

Abiotic factors are those non-living physical and chemical factors which affect the ability of organisms to survive and reproduce.

Biotic factors
are all the living things or their materials that directly or indirectly affect an organism in its environment. This would include organisms, their presence, parts, interaction, and wastes. Factors such as parasitism, disease, and predation (one animal eating another) would also be classified as biotic factors.

In the picture above, the plant is living, therefore it is a biotic factor. The soil, however, is not living, but helps the biotic factor survive and reproduce. The soil is an abiotic factor.

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An organism that cannot manufacture its own food and instead obtains its food and energy by taking in organic substances, usually plant or animal matter. All animals, protozoans, fungi, and most bacteria are heterotrophs. The bee above, is a heterotroph.

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An organism capable of synthesizing its own food from inorganic substances using light or chemical energy. Green plants, algae, and certain bacteria are autotrophs. The flower above, would be considered an autotroph, since it creates its own food.

Predator Prey Relationship

  1. A predator is an organism that eats another organism. The prey is the organism which the predator eats. Some examples of predator and prey are lion and zebra, bear and fish, fox and rabbit, and as seen above, the snake and mouse.

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Mutualism is the way two organisms of different species exist in a relationship in which each individual benefits from the activity of the other. Similar interactions within a species are known as co-operation.

Oxpeckers land on rhinos, elephants, or zebras and eat ticks and other parasites that live on their skin. The oxpeckers get food and the beasts get pest control. Also, when there is danger, the oxpeckers fly upward and scream a warning, which helps the symbiont (a name for the other partner in a relationship).


Commensalism is a relationship between two organisms where one receives a benefit or benefits from the other and the other is not affected by it. In other words, one is benefited and the other is neither benefited nor harmed.

  • Monarch butterflies - These orange and black butterflies eat larva on milkweeds. This larva tastes bitter and is poisonous to vertebrates and so birds learn to avoid monarchs.


Parasitism is a non-mutual symbiotic relationship between species, where one species, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host. Traditionally parasite referred primarily to organisms visible to the naked eye, or macroparasites
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Carbon Cycle

  1. The carbon cycle is the biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth.

    Carbon enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide from respiration (breathing) and combustion (burning). Carbon dioxide is absorbed by producers (life forms that make their own food e.g. plants) to make carbohydrates in photosynthesis . These producers then put off oxygen. Animals feed on the plants. Thus passing the carbon compounds along the food chain. Most of the carbon these animals consume however is exhaled as carbon dioxide. This is through the process of respiration. The animals and plants then eventually die. The dead organisms (dead animals and plants) are eaten by decomposers in the ground. The carbon that was in their bodies is then returned to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. In some circumstances the process of decomposition is prevented. The decomposed plants and animals may then be available as fossil fuel in the future for combustion.

Food Chain

  1. A food chain is a linear sequence of links in a food web starting from "producer" species (such as grass or trees) and ending at apex predator species (like grizzly bears or killer whales), detrivores (like earthworms or woodlice), or decomposer species (such as fungi or bacteria).

    Producer- Grass

    Primary Consumer- Gazelle

    Secondary Consumer-Lion

    Detrivore- Earthworm

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