How the Environment Influences the Body Plans of Organisms
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All living things are able to respond to stimuli in the external environment. For example, living things respond to changes in light, heat, sound, and chemical and mechanical contact. To detect stimuli, organisms have means for receiving information, such as eyes, ears, and taste buds.
To respond effectively to changes in the environment, an organism must coordinate its responses. A system of nerves and a number of chemical regulators called hormones coordinate activities within an organism. The organism responds to the stimuli by means of a number of effectors, such as muscles and glands. Energy is generally used in the process. Organisms change their behavior in response to changes in the surrounding environment. For example, an organism may move in response to its environment. Responses such as this occur in definite patterns and make up the behavior of an organism. The behavior is active, not passive; an animal responding to a stimulus is different from a stone rolling down a hill. Living things display responsiveness; nonliving things do not.
Growth requires an organism to take in material from the environment and organize the material into its own structures. To accomplish growth, an organism expends some of the energy it acquires during metabolism. An organism has a pattern for accomplishing the building of growth structures. During growth, a living organism transforms material that is unlike itself into materials that are like it. A person, for example, digests a meal of meat and vegetables and transforms the chemical material into more of him or herself. A nonliving organism does not display this characteristic.
The environment affects the organisms in its ecosystem. An ecosystem is a natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms, biotic factors, in an area functioning together with all of the non-living physical (abiotic) factors of the environment. Central to the ecosystem concept is, the idea that living organisms are continually engaged in a highly interrelated set of relationships with every other element constituting the environment in which they exist. Eugene Odum, one of the founders of the science of ecology, stated: “Any unit that includes all of the organisms (i.e.: the “community”) in a given area interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined trophic structure, biotic diversity, and material cycles (i.e.: exchange of materials between living and nonliving parts) within the system is an ecosystem.”Organisms have some impact upon the environment in which they live. For example, beavers produce dams that block streams and create ponds; bears raid bee hives by tearing open tree trunks and sometimes gorging on an entire honeycomb; woodpeckers remove beetles and grubs from tree bark.
Humans have caused mostly bad effects upon natural environments. Human overpopulation and overdevelopment