THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH

General Ecology Questions:

1. Compare the terms ecosystem, community, species, and population as they relate to ecology.
2. What is the difference between exponential and logistic growth? What are some density-dependent factors that keep populations from growing exponentially indefinitely? What are some density-independent factors?
3. What is an ecological niche? What happens when two species have identical niches? How does the fundamental niche differ from the realized niche?
4. Explain an example of resource partitioning, and explain how natural selection can lead to character displacement.
5. Describe an example of each of the three types of symbiosis discussed in your text.
6. Explain how energy moves through the living components of an ecosystem (starting with primary productivity and including a discussion of food webs and ecological pyramids).
7. Explain how water, carbon, and nitrogen cycle through ecosystems, and give at least one example for each of how human activities can alter the cycle.
8. Seven different biomes are described in your textbook. If you were in charge of global ecosystem conservation but were told you had to focus all of your resources on preserving two of the seven types of biospheres, which would you choose, and why?

But It’s Just a Bottle...
If your family is like many in the United States, unloading the week’s groceries includes hauling a case or two of bottled water into your home. On your way to a soccer game or activity, it’s easy to grab a cold one right out of the fridge, right? While drinking bottled water is certainly a convenient way to stay hydrated, it’s not the healthiest – for you or the environment.

1. About how many plastic water bottles are used each year in the United States? Roughly what proportion of these are recycled? Where do the rest go? How long does it stay there?
2. Where does the water in a plastic water bottle come from (describe some common sources). Might the removal of water from one area for bottling cause problems for the people and organisms living there? Explain.
3. Give an overview of how fossil fuels are used in getting a nice cold bottle of Fiji water into your hands. Be complete!
4. Is it safe to assume that the water contained in plastic water bottles is better for you than that coming from your tap? Explain.
5. One of the negative chemicals that can leach into bottled water from the plastic bottle containing it is Bisphenyl-A (BPA). What are the human health consequences of BPA? Are there any other materials in plastic water bottles that might be harmful?
6. What is the “Pacific Garbage Patch?” Where is it, how big is it, how did it form?
7. What are the negative impacts of plastic to fish and wildlife in the ocean (and elsewhere)?
8. Discuss within your group whether or not the convenience of bottled water is worth the negative impacts discussed above. What alternatives are available, and what are the downsides of these? Summarize your discussion as part of this assignment.