Every single living thing on this planet, in the universe is connected in one way or another. It would seem as people the more we use technology the farther we get from this concept. It’s becoming a concept so foreign that it seems impossible for people to grasp. We’re making decisions on a whim without a second thought of what destruction it causes.
As humans we have this fantasy that we can live without consequence that we don’t depend on anything, that we own everything, that everything lives for us.
Boy, we are mistaken about that. We can’t do anything but barely wipe drool from our chins. What? Just because we can though a couple of metals together, wire some wires and make some technology, which in the grand scheme of things is just about completely useless, we think we’re God? Technology is an impressive feat to be sure, but it doesn’t feed us, create life, well I guess it does now that we can create life in petri dish but even that, sooner or later, will become our demise. Humans can decide nothing that will not end up being our downfall.
So, how exactly are we all connected? It’s called ecology, the study of the interactions between all living and non-living things.
Ecology is organized into five basic levels.
The first level, the smallest level, is the individual. It is any living being.
The next level is the population. It is a group of individuals of a specific species that live together in a geographic location.
The community is then all the living beings of all species that live in a specific area.
The ecosystem refers to all non-living and living facts that live in a specific area.
And lastly, the biosphere is the part of the Earth that is inhabitable by any living thing.
Then there are the organisms and their different functions within the ecosystem and this is called the food chain.
It starts with the producers, which are plants. Producers get their energy from the sunlight. Consumers are the rest of the food chain.
Consumers that eat the plants are called primary consumers or herbivores. The animal or bird that eats the primary consumer is called a secondary consumer. The animal or bird that eats the secondary consumer is called a tertiary consumer. At each level energy is lost.
Carnivores only eat meat. They eat other animals. That makes them secondary or tertiary consumers.
Omnivores eat both plants and meat. So when a squirrel eats acorns or fruits, it is a primary consumer; but, when it eats insects or baby birds, it is a secondary consumer.
Decomposers are the cleanup crew of life. They’re just carnivores and herbivores that like their food already dead. Like maggots, bacteria, fungus, earthworms and other scavengers.
The food chain can also be displayed as a pyramid with the producers being at the bottom with the biggest population and the carnivores being at the top.
The loss of energy at each trophic level also explains why there are usually fewer organisms in each higher trophic level. The total number of plants in a particular area would generally be higher than the number of herbivores that the plants support and the number of herbivores would be higher than the number of higher order carnivores.
All of this may seem trivial, something you learned in fourth grade and some of it kind of is, but it’s the basics and foundation of what I’ll be talking over the next few posts.