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Matter and Energy in Ecosystems

Ecology Learning Framework

Society Learning Goals Articles Sample Learning Objectives
Matter and Energy in Ecosystems
How does matter and energy move in an ecosystem?
  • Compare and contrast matter and energy movement in an ecosystem. (or model)
  • Predict the consequences to changes in primary production due to perturbations (e.g., drought, fire, flood, temperature, nutrient changes).
  • Generate and interpret carbon cycle models at ecosystem and global scales.
  • Evaluate the claims in a current research paper on how a given carbon sequestration method will impact the global carbon cycle.
  • Construct a model of the nitrogen cycle in an ecosystem to predict the impact of changes in the microbial community on the system.
How do organisms mediate the movement of matter and energy through ecosystems?
  • Explain the mechanisms by which microbial saprobes, parasites, and mutualists influence nutrient cycling.
  • Use a model to predict the impact of the loss of a keystone consumer species on the energy flow through an ecosystem.
  • Construct an argument that defends the idea that eating lower on a food chain is better for the environment.
  • Explain the role of microorganisms in the loss of soil carbon after deforestation or agricultural tillage.
How do organisms obtain and use matter and energy to live and grow?
  • Predict and explain the difference in biomass of plants grown in the light or in the dark.
  • Compare and contrast the mechanisms by which plants and fungi gain biomass.
  • Explain how mass gain and loss differs between active and sedentary consumers.


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