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Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Gain an understanding of the natural world and how the web of life works, with illustrations from around the world.
This course is designed to be studied for about 2 hours per week over 6 weeks. As there is no start and end date you can study in your own time and your own pace.
Throughout this free non-accredited course you will be considering the following overarching questions:
- What is the importance of understanding ecosystems?
- How do they work?
- How crucial is their conservation?
If we don't grasp why ecosystems function, it becomes harder to determine possible reasons for when they don't, and makes it difficult to identify possible environmental threats to humans. In this course you will discover how organisms are linked together by complex interrelationships, how such links are studied and how the physical properties of a particular habitat interact with the organisms that inhabit it. Using case studies, you will come to learn how knowledge of ecosystems leads to understanding of their individual importance, and how they can be preserved.
This course is intended for those with an interest in natural history, conservation or the environment and does not require any previous experience of studying these subjects.
This Open University science open course, presented on OpenLearn, is produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education.
When you reach the end of the course you will have explored the concept of an ecosystem and be able to:
- define an ecosystem
- understand the different ways in which a system can be analysed
- use your knowledge of the key features of ecosystems to determine interrelationships between organisms in a simple ecosystem
- describe adaptations shown by animals to extreme desert and polar environments
- discuss how small organisms in marine systems contribute to energy flow through ecosystems
- explain how humans impact on three examples of fragile ecosystems.
Record of achievement
By enrolling on this course you can track your progress and gain a Statement of Participation for completing the whole course.
Creative Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence.
However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions and our FAQs.
Full copyright details can be found in the Acknowledgements section of each week.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 13th April 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
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