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Topic 1: Systems and Models For IB ExamOrange Further Research/ ExamplesGreen Random Facts Purple Exact DefinitionsRed a General

Topic Notes: * This topic is best viewed as a theme to be used in the delivery of other to pics within ESS * This approach stresses that there are concepts, techniques, and terms that can be transferred from one discipline (such as ecology) to another (such as eng ineering) * Similarities between environmental systems, biological systems and artifici al entities such as transport and communication systems * Any diagram that describes a specific thing is called a model. A flow chart , is a model of how something works. Models cannot be perfect. So you say "this model emphasises..."not"this model shows". * Models * A simplified description designed to show the structure or workings of a n object, system or concept.

Syllabus Notes (to be read in conjunction with the syllabus): 1.1.1 Concept and Characteristics of a System: * A system is an assemblage of parts that work together to form a functioning whole * Systems can be small or large * There are many kinds of systems; ecosystems, economic, social and value sys tems. * Open, closed and isolated systems exist in theory though most living system s are open systems * The first and second laws of thermodynamics and the concepts of positve and negative feedback mechanisms apply to both living and non-living systems * Most living systems are in a steady state of equilibrium, not a static one (though they may be stable or unstable) * Material and energy undergo transfers and transformations in flowing from o ne storage to the next. 1.1.2 Systems on Different Scales A cell is a system, as is a bicycle, a car, a pond, an ocean, an iPod, a compute

r, a home, a farm. The systems concept can be applied to a drop of pond water (small-scale ecosyste m) to a biome (see: biomes) to an abstract concept or way of looking at the worl d, such as the Gaia example. 1.1.3 Open, closed and isolated systems exist in theory though most living systems are open systems Open system An open system exchanges matter and energy with it's surroundings e.g an ecosyst em, human body Example, forest ecosystem:Plants fix energy from light entering the system durin g photosynthesis. Nitrogen from the air is fixed by soil bacteria. Herbivores th at live within the forest may graze in adjacent ecosystems such as a grassland, but when they return they enrich the soil with faeces. After a forest fire, tops oil may be removed by wind and rain. Mineral nutrients are leached out of the so il and transported in groundwater to streams and rivers. Water is lost through e vaporation and transpirations from plants. Heat is exchanged with the surroundin g environment across the boundaries of the forest. Closed system A closed system exchanges energy but not matter. The biosphere experiment was an attempt to model this. Strictly, closed systems do not occur naturally on Earth, but all the global cyc les of matter (e.g water and nitrogen cycles) approximate to closed systems Isolated System An isolated system exchanges neither matter nor energy. No such systems exist (with the possible exception of the entire cosmos) 1.1.4 Thermodynamics The first and second laws of thermodynamics apply to both living and non-living systems. -The first law concerns the conservation of energy. It states that energy is nei ther created nor destroyed. All that can happen is that the form the energy take s changes. In a food chain, energy enters the system as light energy. During pho tosynthesis it is converted to stored chemical energy (glucose). It is the store d chemical energy that is passed along as food. No new energy is created. SO BAS ICALLY: Light to stored chemical energy by photosynthesis and then transferred a s chemical energy from the tree to the caterpillar. - The second law states that the entropy of an isolated system not in equilibriu m will tend to increase over time. What this really means is that energy convers ions are never 100% efficient. When energy is transformed into work, some energy is alwaysdissipated (lost to the environment) as waste heat.Entropy refers to t he spreading out or dispersal of energy. As energy is dispersed on the environme nt, there will always be a reduction in the amount of energy passed on to the ne xt trophic level. This can be thought of as a simple word equation: energy= work + heat (and other wasted energy) 1.1.5 Equilibria Most living systems are in a steady state of equilibrium, not a static one (thou

gh they may be stable or unstable) - The more steady the equilibrium is, the more steady the ecosystem is. - Just because things are changing though, doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. - Some systems may undergo long-term changes to their equilibrium while retainin g an integrity to the system (for example, succession) - Most open systems in nature have asteady-state equilibrium. This is where ther e are continuous inputs and outputs of energy and matter but the system as a who le remains in a more-or-less constant state. In a steady-state equilibrium there are no long-term changes but there may be small fluctuations in the short term e.g. in response to weather changes, and the system will return to its previous equilibrium condition following the removal of the disturbance. E.g. a populatio n of ants may stay the same size but individual organisms are born and die. If t hese birth and death rates are equal, there is no net change in population size. - In a static equilibrium there is no change. When a static equilibrium is distu rbed it will adopt a new equilibrium as a result of the disturbance. Most non-li ving things e.g. a pile of rocks or a building, are in a state of static equilib rium which means they do not change their position or state, they look the same for long periods of time. For example, a pile of weathered rock fragments piled up against a cliff could be said to exist in static equilibrium. The forces with in the system are in balance and the components (the rock fragments, the cliff a nd the valley floor) remain unchanged in their relationship to one another for l ong periods of time. - Example of baron rock, volcano spitting out brand new rock: Then there will be erosion. Little tiny plants are going to grow. Tiny single cell things. More we athering and erosion. Gullys form. Little erosions in the rock. This allows for the breaking down of the rock into sand and soil. This then allows lifeform to g row. The longer we leave this baron rock over thousands of years we go from litt le tiny plants to bigger and bigger plants. Once we get more plant life and anim al life we get bigger and bigger things. - A patch of grass in a meadow: someone drives past and throws out an apple core . This apple core provides food for the ants so the number of ants increases. Th is moves away from the equilibrium. The animals that eat the ants increase in nu mber. Further away from the equilibrium. Once the nutrients run out, the numbers decrease again. Goes back down to the equilibrium. - Everything we do effects the world around us. - As things change and permanent changes are being made, a new equilibrium will be formed. Nature can change the equilibrium. Example of climate change in terms of us changing the temperate and therefore changing the global equilibrium. Wha t the concern is though, is the speed at which this is occurring.

1.1.6 Feedback Systems The self-regulation of natural systems is achieved by the attainment of equilibr ium through feedback systems. Negative feedback - A self-regulating method of control leading to the maintenance of a steady-sta te equilibrium. It counteracts deviation from the norm e.g predator-prey relatio nships. - A means of taking things back to the steady state. - Example: You go for a run, you're running and running and you get hot and then you sweat to cool your body down. Even though your temperate has increased, you r body does something to bring it back to it's normal state.

Positive feedback - Leads to increasing change in a system, it accelerates deviation. E.g the expo nential phase of population growth. - Move away from the equilibrium, up or down. Feedback links involve time lags. If we throw out the apple core today, doesn't mean there's going to be billions of ants tomorrow.

1.1.7 Transfers and Transformation Material and energy undergo transfers and transformations in flowing from one st orage to the next. Transfers normally flow through a system and involve a change in location, not a change of state e.g. water moving from a river to the sea. Transformations lead to an interaction within a system in the formation of a new end product, or involve a change of state. A transformation happens when a flow involves a change of form or state e.g. liquid to gas. When rain falls, water run-off is a transfer process. Whereas if it falls in a p uddle and evaporates, it's a transformation process. Dead organic matter entering a lake is an example of a transfer process. Decompo sition of this material is a transformation process. 1.1.8 Flows and Storages Material and energy undergo transfers and transformations in flowing from one st orage to the next. Flows- Inputs and outputs Storages-Stock When we look at the energy flows into a farm, what has to go in for it to functi on, and what has to come out for it to function? Have to have energy in and food to feed the cows. Then we have to output the product, then money comes back in again The cow itself, the property, the milking machine, would be a storage. 1.1.9 Construct and analyse models showing flows and storages in a system Include storages, yields and outputs in the form of clearly diagrammatic and gra phical models. 1.1.10 Models Model:Simplified description designed to show the structure or workings of an ob ject, system or concept. Models have their limitations but can be useful in helping us to understand syst ems. While they may omit some of the complexities of the real system through lac k of knowledge or for simplicity, they allow us to look ahead and predict the ef fects of a change to an input to the system. They have strengths and limitations. They often require approximations.