Mississippi Valley State University
What is an ecosystem? Well, anecosystemincludesall living things, such as animals and plants, and non-living things, such as the climate, soil and weather in a given area. Some examples of an ecosystem could be a desert, coral reef, or a rainforest. The ecosystem that has and will still to this day amaze me is the rainforest ecosystem.
The rainforest can be characterized by its dense growth of trees in a very wet climate. There are tropical rainforests and temperate rainforests. The largest and in my opinion the most beautiful rainforest is the tropical. The tropical rainforest is home to more species of plants and animals than any of the other ecosystems combined.
A tropical rainforest can be located near the equator. This type of rainforest is mainly in Brazil, but can also be found in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and West Africa. On the other hand, temperate rainforest can be found by the coast, the largest being by the Pacific coast of North America. TheDaintreerainforest in Australia is by far the most interesting tropical rainforest. It is located north of Australia nearDaintree, Queensland by the coast. This rainforest contains 30% of frog, marsupial and reptile species in Australia, and 65% of Australia’s bat and butterfly species. It also contains 20 % of bird species in the country.
In the rainforest there are both abiotic components and biotic components. Abiotic components are the nonliving things, such as ware, air, temperature, wind and the sun. Biotic components are the living things, such as plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms. One can only imagine the richness of plant life in the tropical rain forest. The mix of moisture and moderate heat make for a perfect ecosystem for life go grow.
Elements such as carbon, nitrogen, or phosphorus enter living organisms in a variety of ways. Plants obtain elements from the surrounding atmosphere, water or soils. Animals may also obtain elements directly from the physical environment, but usually the obtain these mainly as a consequence of consuming other organisms (Butler, R.). These materials are transformed biochemically within the bodies of organisms, but sooner or later, due to excretion ordecomposition, they are returned to an inorganic state. Often bacteria complete this process, through the process called decomposition or mineralization (Butler, R.).
As long as tropical rainforests have been in existence they have always encountered natural forces, such as storms, floods, droughts, and even fires. Even though rainforest have humid nature, they can still be affected by a natural forest fire. Drought is usually the reason behind a natural forest fire, typically sparked by lightening. However, there are other natural forces that can spark a fire and that would be a volcanic eruption. Lava from a volcanic eruption can completely destroy anything in its way. The wildlife will also be affected by the gases that are released as well.
Humankind also threatens the rainforest and is probably one of the greatest causes of the destruction today. Some examples of these threats are logging, mining, fires, oil extraction, commercial agriculture, pollution, hunting, construction, and even war.
An example of primary succession in tropical rainforest would be when flooding happens and strips the topsoil, so the environment must now create new topsoil. A secondary succession would be when farmers cut down areas of trees to grow their crops and after a few years the soil becomes infertile. When the farmer moves, this is when secondary succession sets in. The soil is fertilized and starts to grow small plants and trees again until the forest.
Biogeochemical cycle is the shifting of great amounts of elements and chemical compounds, between organisms and the environment. There are a few examples and categories of biogeochemical cycle, one of which is the Carbon cycle. Carbon is one of the most important elements that sustain life on earth (Pidwirny, M. 2012). Carbon dioxide and methane gases (compounds of carbon) in the earth’s atmosphere have a substantial effect on earth’s heat balance(Pidwirny, M. 2012). It absorbs infrared radiation and hence may contribute to global warming and climate change (Pidwirny, M. 2012).
There are many natural and human caused disturbances to the ecosystem. One natural disturbance that can greatly affect the ecosystem is tornadoes, just by their sheer destructive force. A human disturbance could be an oil spill, which will poison and even kill a great amount of sea creatures. There are also many ways to help improve the ecosystem. One of which is something that we do often, recycle. Recycling helps to reduce landfill, reduce energy consumption and decreases pollution.
Butler, R. (n.a.) Rainforest Ecology. Retrieved from MongaBay: http://rainforests.mongabay.com/amazon/rainforest_ecology.html
Butler, R. (July 27, 2012) Threats to Rainforests from Humankind. Retrieved from MongaBay: http://rainforests.mongabay.com/0803.htm
Pidwirny, M. (May 7, 2012) Environmental Chemistry. Carbon cycle. Retrieved from EOearth: http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/150923/
Moses, Muhumuza (October 3, 2012) Biogeochemistry. Biogeochemical cycles. Retrieved from EOearth: http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/150616/