1.018J | Fall 2009 | Undergraduate

Ecology I: The Earth System


1 Introduction: what is ecology?

Carruthers, G. T. “Locusts in the Red Sea.” Nature 41, no. 1051 (1889): 153. (PDF)

Vernadskii, V. I. “The Biosphere.” Biosfera. Leningrad, 1926. Translated by Lawrence R. Pomeroy, University of Georgia.

Rowe, J. Stan. “Biological Fallacy: Life Equals Organisms.” Bioscience 42, no. 6 (1992): 394.

Remmert, Hermann. “Ecology: the Basic Concept.” In Ecology. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag Berlin, 1980. ISBN: 9783540100591.

2 Evolution of Earth and the biosphere

Des Marais, David J. “When did Photosynthesis Emerge on Earth?” Science 289, no. 5485 (2000): 1703-1705.

Chyba, Christopher F. “Rethinking Earth’s Early Atmosphere.” Science 308 (2005): 962-963.

Kump, Lee R. “The Rise of Atmospheric Oxygen.” Nature 451 (2008): 277-278.

3 How to be alive/thermodynamics of life

Kaiser, Jocelyn. “Can Deep Bacteria Live on Nothing but Rocks and Water?” Science 270, no. 5235 (1995): 377.

Jannasch, Holger W. “Life at the Sea Floor.” Nature 374 (1995): 676-677.

Lovley, Derek R. “Bug Juice: Harvesting Electricity with Microorganisms.” Nature Reviews Microbiology 4, no. 7 (2006): 497-508.

Jetten, Mike, et al. “Microbiology and Application of the Anaerobic Ammonium Oxidation (‘anammox’) Process.” Current Opinion in Biotechnology 12, no. 3 (2001): 283-288.


CI lecture: getting started with the term project

Lecturer: Harlan Breindel, MIT Writing Center

5-6 Primary productivity I and II

Morton, Oliver. “Introduction.” In Eating the Sun. London, UK: Fourth Estate, 2008, pp. xi-xix. ISBN: 9780007163649.

Chisholm, S. W. “What Limits Phytoplankton Growth.” Oceanus 35, no. 3 (1992): 36-46.

Falkowski, Paul G. “The Ocean’s Invisible Forest.” Scientific American, August 2002.

7 Biogeochemical cycles

Galloway, James, et al. “Transformation of the Nitrogen Cycle: Recent Trends, Questions, and Potential Solutions.” Science 320, no. 5878 (2008): 889-892.

Oki, Taikan, and Shinjiro Kanae. “Global Hydrological Cycles and World Water Resources.” Science 313, no. 5790 (2006): 1068-1072.

Filippelli, Gabriel M. “The Global Phosphorus Cycle: Past, Present, and Future.” Elements 4, no. 2 (2008): 89-95.

8 Global carbon cycle

Canadell, Josep G., et al. “Contributions to Accelerating Atmospheric CO2 Growth from Economic Activity, Carbon Intensity, and Efficiency of Natural Sinks.” PNAS 104, no. 47 (2007): 18866-18870.

Field, Christopher B., Michael J. Behrenfeld, James T. Randerson, and Paul Falkowski. “Primary Production of the Biosphere: Integrating Terrestrial and Oceanic Components.” Science 281, no. 5374 (1998): 237-240.

Falkowski, Paul, et al. “The Global Carbon Cycle: A Test of Our Knowledge of Earth as a System.” Science 290, no. 5490 (2000): 291-296.

Doney, Scott C., Victoria J. Fabry, Richard A. Feely, and Joan A. Kleypas. “Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem.” Annual Review of Marine Science 1 (2009): 169-192.

9 Quiz 1  
10 Limiting factors and Redfield Redfield, Alfred C. “On the Proportions of Organic Derivatives in Seawater and their Relation to the Composition of Plankton.” Chapter 5 in James Johnstone Memorial Volume. Edited by R. J. Daniel. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 1934, pp. 176-192.
11 Ecosystem experiments/geoengineering

Likens, Gene. “Some Perspectives on Long-term Biogeochemical Research from the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study.” Ecology 85, no. 9 (2004): 2355-2362.

“A Changing Climate of Opinion?” The Economist, September 4, 2008.

Lovelock, James. “A Geophysiologist’s Thoughts on Geoengineering.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 366, no. 1882 (2008): 3883-3890.

Schiermeier, Quirin. “Mixing the Oceans Proposed to Reduce Global Warming.” Naturenews, September 26, 2007.

Kintisch, Eli. “Scientists Say Continued Warming Warrants Closer Look at Drastic Fixes.” Science 318 (2007): 1054-1055.

Carpenter, Stephen, et al. “Ecosystem Experiments.” Science 269 (1995): 324-327.

12 Secondary productivity/food webs

Beddington, John. “The Primary Requirements.” Nature 374 (1995): 213-214.

Pauly, Daniel, and V. Christensen. “Primary Production Required to Sustain Global Fisheries.” Nature 374 (1995): 255-257.

Pauley, Daniel, et al. “Fishing Down Aquatic Food Webs.” American Scientist 88 (2000): 46-51.

Stapp, Paul, Gary A. Polis, and Francisco Sánchez Piñero. “Stable Isotopes Reveal Strong Marine and El Niño Effects on Island Food Webs.” Nature 401 (1999): 467-469.

Peterson, Bruce, Robert Howarth, and Robert Garritt. “Sulfur and Carbon Isotopes as Tracers of Salt-Marsh Organic Matter Flow.” Ecology 67, no. 4 (1986): 865-874.

Dunne, Jennifer, Richard Williams, and Neo Martinez. “Network Structure and Biodiversity Loss in Food Webs: Robustness Increases with Connectance.” Ecology Letters 5 (2002): 558-567.

Bol, Roland, and Christian Pflieger. “Stable Isotope Analysis of the Hair of Modern Humans and Their Domestic Animals.” Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 16 (2002): 2195-2200.

13 Population growth

Smil, Vaclav. “How Many Billions to Go?” Nature 401 (1999): 429.

Palumbi, Stephen. “Humans as the World’s Greatest Evolutionary Force.” Science 293 (2001): 1786-1790.

Cohen, Joel. “Population Growth and Earth’s Human Carrying Capacity.” Science 269, no. 5222 (1995): 341-346.

Tilman, David, et al. “Agricultural Sustainability and Intensive Production Practices.” Nature 418 (2002): 671-677.

Wackernagel, Mathis, et al. “National Natural Capital Accounting with the Ecological Footprint Concept.” Ecological Economics 29 (1999): 375-390.

Hindell, Mark. “Some Life-History Parameters of a Declining Population of Southern Elephant Seals, Mirounga Leonina.” Journal of Animal Ecology 60, no. 1 (1991): 119-134.

14 Chemostats/life tables
15 Human population growth
16 Quiz 2  
17 Competition and the niche

Lauer, Thomas, and Anne Spacie. “Space as a Limiting Resource in Freshwater Systems: Competition between Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and Freshwater Sponges (Porifera).” Hydrobiologia 517 (2004): 137-145.

Byers, James. “Competition Between Two Estuarine Snails: Implications For Invasions of Exotic Species.” Ecology 81, no. 5 (2000): 1225-1239.

18 Predation/symbiosis/mutualism

Turchin, P., L. Oksanen, P. Ekerholm, T. Oksanen, and H. Henttonen. “Are Lemmings Prey or Predators?” Nature 405 (2000): 562-565.

Gilg, Olivier, Ilkka Hanski, and Benoit Sittler. “Cyclic Dynamics in a Simple Vertebrate Predator-Prey Community.” Science 302 (2003): 866-868.

Hudson, Peter J., and Ottar N. Bjørnstad. “Vole Stranglers and Lemming Cycles.” Science 302 (2003): 797-798.

19 Biogeography

Myers, Norman, et al. “Biodiversity Hotspots for Conservation Priorities.” Nature 403 (2000): 853-858.

Worm, Boris, et al. “Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services.” Science 314 (2006): 787-790.


A thought experiment in sustainability

Guest lecture: John Sterman, MIT Sloan School

Layard, Richard. “Happiness: Has Social Science a Clue?” Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures, March 3-5, 2003. London School of Economics.

Turner, Graham. “A Comparison of ‘The Limits to Growth’ with 30 Years of Reality.” Global Environmental Change 18 (2008): 397-411.

21 Quiz 3  
22-25 Project presentations  

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