Ecology Studies - Ecosystem Ecology | Free course online | Alison

Ecology Studies - Ecosystem Ecology - Revised

Get a better understanding of ecosystems, energy transfer, and biogeochemical cycles with this ecosystem ecology course.

Environmental Studies
Free Course
This free online Ecology Studies course will introduce you to Ecosystem Ecology. An ecosystem consists of animals, plants, and bacteria, as well as the physical and chemical environment they live in. All living things respond to and are influenced by their ecosystem and with this course, you will have a stronger understanding of ecosystem types and categories, the transfer of energy between trophic levels, and food webs and food chains.
  • Duration

    1.5-3 Hours
  • Assessment

  • Certification

  • Responsive






View course modules


This course will first introduce you to the structure of ecosystems. You will learn that there are three broad categories of ecosystems, based on ecosystems' general environment, with ocean ecosystems being the most common. Next, you will learn how energy is acquired by living things, and look into photosynthesis, chemosynthesis, and heterotrophs, as well as study the second law of thermodynamics.

Large amounts of energy are lost from the ecosystem from one trophic level to the next level as energy flows from the primary producers through the various trophic levels of consumers and decomposers. To help you understand the transfer of energy between the trophic levels, the course will discuss assimilation, ecological pyramids, and biomagnification. You will also study essential biogeochemical cycles, including the hydrologic cycle, the biological carbon cycle, the biogeochemical carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the phosphorus cycle, and the sulfur cycle.

An ecosystem includes a physical environment and the living organisms that exist within it and function together as a whole. Ecology, on the other hand, is the study of the distribution and abundance of life and the interactions between organisms and their natural environment. This course focuses on the study of ecosystem ecology, and will teach you how we can better improve our environment, manage our natural resources, and protect human health. This is important knowledge, which you can gain in just a few short hours.

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Learning Outcomes

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Describe the basic types of ecosystems on Earth.
  • Explain the methods that ecologists use to study ecosystem structure and dynamics.
  • Explain how organisms acquire energy in a food web and in associated food chains.
  • Explain how the efficiency of energy transfers between trophic levels affects ecosystem structure and dynamics.
  • Discuss trophic levels and how ecological pyramids are used to model them.
  • Define the biogeochemical cycles of water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulphur.
  • Explain how human activities have impacted these cycles.


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