Visualizing Environmental Science Ecosystems and Evolution Chapter 6

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1 Visualizing Environmental Science Ecosystems and Evolution Chapter 6 Copyright

2 Earth s Major Biomes Biome a large, relatively distinct terrestrial region with similar climate (longterm weather pattern), soil, plants, and animals, regardless of where it occurs in the world Encompasses many interacting ecosystems

3 Factors That Affect Biomes Temperature and precipitation have a predominant effect on biome distribution Latitude Temperature most important factor near poles Precipitation more important in tropical and temperate regions Elevation also affects biomes Going from warmer to colder climates

4 Arctic Tundra Treeless biome in the far north that consists of boggy plains covered by lichens and mosses Permafrost layer of permanently frozen ground Climate change causing permafrost to thaw Harsh, cold winters and extremely short summers and seasonal snow melting Alpine tundra occurs at higher elevations of mountains, above tree line Low primary productivity and low resilience

5 Boreal Forest/Taiga Coniferous forests of pine, spruce, and fir, in the Northern Hemisphere, just south of tundra Winters extremely cold and severe Little precipitation, 20 in/year Soil is acidic and mineral poor Caribou, wolves, bear, moose, rodents, rabbits, lynx, birds in summer, lots of insects Top source of industrial wood and fiber, leading to loss of forest

6 Temperate Rain Forest Coniferous forest with high precipitation, dense fog and cool weather Northwest coast of NA, SE Australia, SA Mild winters, cool summers Slow decay, poor soil Hemlock, fir, cedar, spruce, epiphytes, mosses, lichens and ferns Squirrels, wood rats, elk, mule deer, birds, amphibians and reptiles High producer of lumber and pulpwood Overharvesting old-growth forest is an issue; see chapter 13 for debate over clearcutting

7 Temperate Deciduous Forest Forest biome that occurs in temperate areas where precipitation ranges from in/year Hot summers, cold winters Topsoil rich in organic matter Broad-leaf hardwood trees, lose leaves seasonally Originally puma, wolves, and bison, now absent Deer, bears, small mammals, birds Original forests in Europe and NA mostly destroyed by logging and urbanization

8 Temperate Grassland Tallgrass prairies and shortgrass prairies Hot summers, cold winters, and less rainfall (10 30 in/year) than in temperate deciduous forest biome Soil rich in organic matter More than 90% of tallgrass prairies were plowed for agriculture, NA s rarest biome Bison graze on mixed-grass prairie in Custer State Park, South Dakota

9 Mild, moist winters; hot, dry summers Referred to as having a Mediterranean climate Small-leaved evergreen shrubs and small trees dominate Lush vegetation during rainy winter season Wildfires common in late summer and autumn Many fire adapted plants that grow after a fire Thin, unfertile soil Chaparral

10 California has 6000 wildfires each year with many people living in fire-prone chaparral EnviroDiscovery Using Goats to Fight Fire Goats are being used to clear hills of vegetation during the 6- month fire season 350 goats can clear an acre of heavy brush per day Rare/endangered plant species are fenced off

11 Desert Plant growth limited by lack of precipitation Found in both temperate and tropical regions Daily temperature extremes Less than 10 inches of rain/year Sparse vegetation that includes cacti, yucca, and sagebrush Soil is low in organic matter but high in mineral content Animals Typically small, mostly nocturnal Insects, arachnids, desert-adapted amphibians, many reptiles Threatened by human encroachment and environmental damage from off-road vehicles Soil easily eroded and less vegetation grows to support native animals

12 Savanna Tropical grassland Large herds of herbivores such as wildebeest, antelope, giraffe, zebra, elephant Large carnivores such as lions and hyenas Low or intense seasonal rainfall, in/year, but with prolonged dry periods Widely scattered or clumped trees such as the acacia Low mineral-content soil Savanna lost as land is converted into rangeland for cattle Africa, N Australia, South America, W India

13 Tropical Rain Forest Lush, species rich forest that occurs where the climate is warm and moist year-round Rains almost daily, in/year Weathered, mineral-poor soil High species richness and diversity Three layers of vegetation In tropical dry forests precipitation seasonal Industrial expansion and human population growth threaten the rain forests

14 Florida s Terrestrial Habitats Imperceptible elevation changes Pine Flatwoods Acidic soil Clay hardpan Stores water Lessens root penetration Fire dependent Species Saw palmetto Slash pine Deer, fox, raccoon, possum, panther, snakes, burrowing owl Image and Habitat information from the South Florida Water Management District

15 Florida s Terrestrial Habitats Scrub Highest elevation Sandy, well drained soil Species Sand Pine Scrub oak Deer, fox, raccoon, possum, panther, snakes, gopher tortoise, bobcat Image and Habitat information from the South Florida Water Management District

16 Florida s Terrestrial Habitats Hardwood Hammock Lowest elevation Cooler Species Gumbo Limbo Oaks Cabbage Palm (state tree) Deer, fox, raccoon, possum, panther, snakes, Image and Habitat information from the South Florida Water Management District

17 Aquatic Ecosystems Aquatic ecology Freshwater ecosystems include Standing-water (lakes and ponds) Flowing-water (rivers and streams) Wetlands (marshes and swamps) Categories of organisms Plankton phytoplankton and zooplankton Nekton fish and turtles Benthos bottom-dwellers

18 Freshwater Ecosystems Occupy 2% of earth s surface, yet play important role in hydrologic cycle Standing-water, lakes and ponds have three zones Littoral, limnetic, profundal Zonation accentuates thermal stratification, temperature changes with depth Human effects include eutrophication, unnatural nutrient enrichment

19 Freshwater Wetlands Marshes, dominated by grass-like plants, and swamps, dominated by woody shrubs Shallow fresh water cover for at least part of the year Water-tolerant vegetation Waterlogged soils Anaerobic, low rate of decomposition Rich in organic material Ecosystem services include wildlife habitat, flood mitigation and filtration of ground water Wetlands threatened by pollution, development and agriculture

20 Brackish Ecosystems: Estuaries Estuary coastal body of water, partly surrounded by land, with access to the ocean and fresh water from a river Water levels rise and fall with tides Salinity fluctuates from fresh water to brackish Highly productive ecosystems with rapid nutrient circulation Salt marshes shallow wetlands with salt-tolerant grasses Mangrove forests tropical equivalent of salt marshes

21 Three Species of Florida Mangroves Red Mangroves usually grow near the shore of the water. It has red roots and is often referred to as the walking mangrove because its roots raise over the water. Black Mangroves grow in higher areas Their roots spread near the trunk in shapes of fingers or pencils pointing up, exposing the roots to needed oxygen. White Mangroves grow even higher than the black mangrove, and its roots aren t visible. These trees tend to get rid of salt on the backs of the leaves. Significant losses due to coastal development and aquaculture

22 Community Responses to Changing Conditions Over Time: Succession Ecological succession the process of community development over time, through a sequence of species Resident species modify the environment, making it more suitable for later species Former concept of a stable climax community has been replaced with reality that communities continue to change Primary and secondary succession have specific species compositions

23 Primary Succession Change of species over time in a previously uninhabited environment No soil, bare rock surfaces Begins with pioneer community composed of acidic lichens that break up rock and form soil Lichens mosses shrubs eventually specific trees Note the stages of primary succession on glacial moraine

24 Primary Succession Sandbars Lava flows that have cooled

25 Secondary Succession Change in species composition after a disturbance in an area previously inhabited Abandoned farmland, forest fire, clear-cut forest Soil already present Can take more than 100 years for secondary succession to occur Typically crabgrass horseweed pine trees hardwood trees

26 Developing and Understanding of Evolution

27 Galápagos Islands

28 Evolution the cumulative genetic changes in populations that occur during successive generations Charles Darwin ( ) proposed the mechanism of evolution (i.e., not idea of evolution) in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859) Environment plays crucial role in which traits are inherited Accumulation of favorable traits leads to increased survival (fitness)

29 Evolution Through Natural Selection Four observations guide natural selection (NS) High reproductive capacity Limits on population growth Heritable variation Differential reproductive success

30 Darwin s Finches While on the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, Darwin studied plants and animals on each island, including 14 species of finches He concluded that the finches had a common mainland ancestor, but had become geographically isolated and adapted to different diets

31 Environmental InSight Evidence for Evolution Fossil record Fossils show how organisms evolved over time Comparative anatomy Similarities among organisms demonstrate how they are related Biogeography The study of geographic locations of organisms Molecular biology Showing relationships on a molecular level such as sharing an enzyme or nucleotide base

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