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Introduction to Ecology

Introduction to Ecology
Slide 1 – Introduction
Welcome to Biology 1010 Online. You have enrolled in a four credit science course that
will give you a parallel learning experience to those that are taking this same course in a
traditional setting. Each week you will view and listen to a lecture topic. You should
take notes during the lecture and stop and replay a slide at any time if you missed any

The purpose of this course is to give you a basic understanding of biological topics, such
as the environment, selected body systems, and genetics that may be of interest to you.
The intent is for you to gain knowledge so that you can understand biology related news
topics and make educated choice related to science in your life. Let’s begin our
exploration of biology.

Slide 2 – Scientific Method
In today’s society we are bombarded with all types of information. Some comes from the
news media, while other comes from social media. In order to determine what’s real news
and what’s “fake news” we need a method of distinguishing the two. This is where the
scientific method come into play. The scientific method is a systematic pursuit of
knowledge. It consists of making observations, creating hypothesis, testing the hypothesis
with experiments, collecting the data from experiments, and drawing logical conclusions
from the data. The results are then tested and verified by experts and if the results are
upheld, the conclusions are accepted as valid by the scientific community.

Slide 3 – Scientific Method
In using the scientific method, several criteria have to be met. First, a hypothesis, which
is based on observations, must be testable. This means that the hypothesis can be verified
objectively, based on facts. Questions like, “Will fertilizer make plants grow taller?” or
“Will this medication control high blood pressure?” are testable hypothesis. Questions
that are subjective, such as “Which will look better in my garden – roses or carnations?”
or “Which fast food restaurant has the best tasting fries?” are not testable because they
are based on opinion, not fact.

When using the scientific method, we want to use large sample sizes, so that we can have
confidence in the reliability of the experimental results. If small sample sizes are used, it
will be unknown whether the results will be valid across various groups.

Finally, when we conduct an experiment using the scientific method, we have both a
control and an experimental group. The control group is used as a baseline for
comparison with the experimental group. The conditions for the two groups are kept
identical, except for the one factor that is being tested. For example, if we were testing
the hypothesis that fertilizer will make plants grow taller, we would have two groups of
identical plants. Both plants would be kept under identical conditions, but the
experimental group would receive fertilizer, while the control group would not.

Once we have completed our experiments and the conclusions have been verified by the
scientific community, a point of consensus is reached. Consensus is when the majority of
experts are in agreement with the results of repeated experiments. For example, 98.5% of
the world’s scientists agree on the existence of global climate change. This is a group of
Introduction to Ecology
more than 10,000 scientists (a large sample size) that agree on the validity of many
experiments that have reached the same conclusion.

Slide 4 – Scientific Method
A YouTube video demonstrating the scientific method

Slide 5 – What is Biology?
This is a biology course that I’m sure many of you have trepidation about taking, but as
we start the course, we should ask, what is biology? Biology comes from the Greek
prefix bio, which means life and the Greek suffix -ology, which means study of science;
therefore biology is the study of life. Biology is a very broad area and there are many
fields of study within this science. Some of these fields include: Zoology, the study of
animals; Ecology, the study of the environment; and Botany, the study of plants. This list
is extensive.

Slide 6 – What is Ecology?
The first topic we will cover in Biology 1010 is ecology. Again we have another word
ending in -ology, which means the study of science. The Greek prefix eco- means
environment; therefore ecology is the study of the interaction of organisms within their

Slide 7 – Biosphere
Before we go any further there are some terms we should define. The first is biosphere.
If we break this word down we can understand its meaning. We’ve seen the prefix bio-
before when we discussed biology, remember that is means life. The word sphere means
circle; therefore the biosphere is the thin layer around the earth’s surface where life is
supported. The biosphere is considered a closed system with regards to materials. This
is because there are a finite amount of materials on the planet; no new materials are being
made. This means that materials must be recycled. Think about aluminum cans. There
is a certain amount of aluminum on the planet; no new aluminum can be made. So in
order to make new aluminum cans, old aluminum cans must be recycled.

The biosphere is open with regards to energy. This means that an endless amount of
energy comes into the earth from the sun. In addition, energy is also lost from the earth
and living organisms in the form of heat. This exchange of energy is constant.

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