GED Science Practice Test: Summary – Natural Cycles
In summary, ecologists study various nutrient cycles to better understand ecosystems. It is important for ecologists to study these abiotic components of ecosystems, because they have direct and indirect effects on the biotic components (the living organisms) in ecosystems. For example, a direct effect of carbon is on the ability of plants to produce their own food through photosynthesis. An indirect, long-term effect of carbon is to acidify our oceans, which then create an inhospitable environment for some organisms to grow.
When ecologists study these nutrient cycles, they are trying to find balances or imbalances. For example, if an ecologist finds that there is a lack of nitrogen in the soil in a farm ecosystem, then the addition of nitrogen through fertilizers might be advised. However, an understanding of nutrient cycles also allows ecologists to consider the longer-term effects of change that happen, or changes humans make, to ecosystems.
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Ecology differs from other sciences because of its long-term, systems perspective on living things and their environment. Which of the following might be a long-term consequence of adding fertilizer to improve the growth of a food crop?