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ZingPath: Protists

Disruptive Effect of Microorganisms on Ecosystems

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Lesson Focus

Disruptive Effect of Microorganisms on Ecosystems


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You get to familiarize yourself with a very important group of eukaryotes… the protists. Discover fascinating details about this diverse group, and learn how some species cause great harm while other species provide great benefits.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Give examples of microorganisms’ disruptive effects on ecosystems.
  • Explain the effect of eutrophication on ecosystems.

Everything You'll Have Covered

Why are phytoplankton important to aquatic food chains?

~ Phytoplankton are of vital importance to aquatic food chains because they provide both oxygen and nutrients to many other organisms with which they live.

How does a sudden increase in the phytoplankton population affect an ecosystem?

~ When the population of phytoplankton in an ecosystem suddenly increases, the clarity of the water in which it lives decreases. This decreased water clarity prevents sunlight from reaching plants that live deep beneath the surface. Without sunlight, these plants are unable to perform photosynthesis and may die. This, in turn, destroys the food web and severely damages the ecosystem.

In what other way can some microorganisms be harmful to their ecosystems?

~ Some microorganisms produce toxins that are lethal to other forms of life. When the populations of such organism increase rapidly, the accumulation of theses toxins can present a threat to the ecosystem.

What is a "red tide" and what effects can it have?

~ A "red tide" is an accumulation of certain algal blooms in aquatic ecosystems. A "red tide" can result in color, smell, and water-treatment issues, human illness, oxygen depletion, and the death of other organisms.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 2 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should be familiar with algae, algal bloom, and aquatic.
Course Biology
Type of Tutorial Animation
Key Vocabulary algae, algal bloom, aquatic