Introduction to ecosystems
Introduction to ecosystems

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Introduction to ecosystems

2.6 Summary of Week 2

In this look back at the week, Dr David Robinson from The Open University discusses what you have learned so far in this course. The next week focuses on the adaptations of animals to the challenges posed by different types of ecosystems.

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Summary of week 2

NARRATOR
Ecosystems comprise more than habitat, inhabitants, and relationships between organisms, and learning about ecosystems in oak woodland demonstrates how complex ecosystems can be.
DR. DAVID ROBINSON
In woodlands like this, we can see parts of the ecosystem, but there are intricate and complex relationships between the organisms here - far more than we initially see when we walk into the woods. There's layer upon layer of interrelationships between the organisms. For example, like the woodwide web that links the trees here with the fungi under the ground. Understanding ecosystems transforms our view of the natural world, and it makes our own relationship with the natural world much more meaningful. In the next part of our learning journey, we'll be looking at ecosystems in different parts of the world, and in particular, how some organisms survive in extreme conditions through physiological adaptations. Understanding physiological adaptations is part of the process of making sense of ecosystems.
NARRATOR
The learning material in this section explores physiological adaptations like evaporators in the desert and adaptations to fluctuating food supply in the Arctic. In this video, Professor Paul Tett investigates how phytoplankton travel and survive in the sea.
PAUL TETT
The problem for phytoplankton is that they can very rarely get light and nutrients at the same time, because light is at the surface of the sea, and the nutrients are found deep down where organic matter decays in this cold quarter at the bottom of the sea.
NARRATOR
Here, Professor Mimi Koehl demonstrates how some suspension feeders eat.
MIMI KOEHL
3/4 of the Earth's surface is covered with water, and that water is full of particles, and a vast array of different kinds of creatures make their living by filtering those particles out of the water. Some of them, like anchovies and whales, swim around and let the water move through their filters as they go. Other animals, like sea fans and feather duster worms and feather stars sit on the bottom and put their filters up in the current.
NARRATOR
In this audio, Professor Aaron Bernstein describes some of the wonders of the microbial world and how it redefines our understanding of life.
AARON BERNSTEIN
The diversity of genes in the microbial world - we know that that is far greater than the diversity of genes in the rest of the living world. But really, we're utterly ignorant about the microbial world. In fact, it is the last great unexplored frontier.
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Woodlands are a good example of an intricate and complex ecosystem and you have now seen that there is a fascinating web of relationships beneath the ground that forms the wood-wide web. Above the ground there are animals that are well adapted to glide through the trees and you explored the comparisons between the adaptations of squirrels, colugos and bats.

Next week we’ll be looking at ecosystems in different parts of the world, and in particular, how some organisms survive in extreme conditions through physiological adaptations. Understanding physiological adaptations is part of the process of making sense of ecosystems. Examples will be taken from extreme habitats – deserts and the polar regions.

If you would like a short break, or to find out more about studying with The Open University, take alook at our online prospectus [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

You can now go to Week 3.

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