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“Pockets” or small areas where the climate is different from the climate of the region. Examples of this could include the climate created by a city, the climate created by the shade of a forest or even smaller, the inside of a hollow tree, the cleft of a rock, or the inside of an organism for parasite or symbiotic organism…(lichen)
Specialized organisms that recycle nutrients in ecosystems. They secrete enzymes that digest or biodegrade living or dead organisms into simpler nonorganic compounds (N, C, O, P) that producers can take up from the soil and water and use as nutrients.
Examples are bacteria, fungi, and other consumers called detritivores. Detritus is dead organic matter.
Two species or a network of species interact in way that benefits both. Such benefits include having pollen and seeds dispersed for reproduction, being supplied with food, or receiving protection. This is a type of symbiosis.
Examples: clownfish and anenome, birds on rhino, fungi and plant roots form mycorrihzae, protists in termites that allows them to break down cellulose, bacteria in your gut!
Term referring to matter that is made by a living organism…even if the organism is no longer still alive, like wood
When this matter is decomposed it returns inorganic nutrients to the ecosystem.
When it is burned or digested, it releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere
Interaction of species that benefits one species but has little to no effect on the other species.
Examples: epiphytes (orchids or spanish moss) growing on a tree, birds making a nest in a tree, silverfish insects that move along with columns of ants to eat left over food
A variety of factors can affect the number of organisms in a population, but sometimes there is one factor that is more important in regulating population in that environment than other factors.
Common examples include precipitation on land, dissolved oxygen in water, temperature, sunlight and nutrient availability in all ecosytems. Excess of an abiotic factor can also become this as well.
Range of Tolerance
The ability of an organism to survive variations in its physical and chemical environment. Species which can withstand a wider range of variations are more likely to survive changes in ecosystem.
The maximum population of a given species that a particular habitat can sustain indefinitely without degrading the habitat. The growth rate of a population decreases as its size nears this maximum population, referred to as K. This is illustrated in an S-curve or sigmoidal shaped logistic growth curve.
Adjective meaning caused by humans or human influence on environmental factors.
This adjective is commonly used to describe global warming, pollution, climate change
Effects of Forest Degradation
Primary Sewage Treatment
Removes suspended solids and some organic wastes (like fats, oil or grease)
Some sources say this is the physical treatment (screens) but other sources say treatment must be chemical, so primary treatment also includes adding flocculants or chemicals that will cause suspended solids to polymerize or “coagulate” so then can be removed
Process includes screens, settling tank where heavier suspended solids settle to bottom and lighter ones float on top.
Secondary Sewage Treatment
Aerobic bacteria remove dissolved and biodegradable oxygen demanding organic wastes
Removes organic substances, pathogens, phosphate and nitrates/ammonia
Processes include aerobic bacteria/ denitrifying bacteria (anaerobic microbial digester) and disinfection (chlorine, ozone, UV)
Tertiary Sewage Treatment
US federal law requires primary and secondary treatment for all municipal sewage treatment plants.
Advanced or tertiary sewage treatment involves both chemical and physical processes to remove specific chemicals left after primary and secondary treatment…this may include nitrates and phosphates as well as pharmaceutical drugs.
The solid produced by sewage treatment
Can contain a lot of bacteria and possibly toxic chemicals and metals if the sewage treatment mixes industrial and household waste
Also known as biosolids, this can be put in digesters to create compost for use as a soil conditioner or fertilizer
What is not recycled is dumped into landfills or incinerated. Incineration can produce toxic ash. If the landfill is not a sanitary landfill, it can contaminate groundwater.
How can we improve sewage treatment?
Don’t flush trash down toilets/ don’t chop up a bunch of stuff in garbage disposal
Require industries to remove toxic or hazardous wastes before water sent to municipal waste water treatment
Waterless, composting toilets
Use natural or artificially created wetlands in sewage treatment
GMOs…genetically modified bacteria to remove more chemicals
Clean Water Act of 1972, 1977, 1987: sets water quality standards
Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974: sets standards for municipal water systems that treat water and protects groundwater resources
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969: established EPA/ requires environmental impact statements (IES) for major federal construction projects
Air Laws and Agreements
Clean Air Act 1970: established air quality standards and the most threatening pollutants (dirty ½ dozen). Also started emissions testing
Montreal Protocol (international)1987, amended 1990, 1992: sets a timetable for phasing out ozone depleting substances (CFCs)
Kyoto Protocol (international) 1997: reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. did not agree to participate in the end with this.
Surface Mining Reclamation and Control Act (SMCRA) 1977: requires mining companies to put funds in escrow to assure land reclamation after mining operations over.
National Park Service Act 1916: established National Park Service
Federal Land Policy and Management Act 1976. Outlines use of public lands, allows BLM to manage non-park lands.
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) 1947: regulates manufacture and use of pesticides…must be approved, registered and labeled
Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA): EPA sets tolerance level for amount or toxic residues that may lawfully remain on food, drug and cosmetic products.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA): regulates hazardous waste storage and disposal from cradle to grave
Endangered Species Act 1973: directs Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) to create lists of endangered and threatened species, prepare recovery plans for endangered species, and protect habitat of endangered species.
Species Conservation Act 1966: Secretary of Interior can purchase lands for protection of endangered species and ban importation of endangered species
Lacey Act 1990: Dept of Interior can restore populations of scarce or extinct animals
Energy and General Laws
U.S. Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) 1978: requires utilities to purchase power from small power producers at market value
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1970: provides standards for health and safety in the workplace, provides workers with the ability to hold employers accountable for workplace conditions
NEPA, 1969: EPA/ IES
Major Greenhouse Gases
Carbon dioxide: highest volume greenhouse gas
Methane: most effective gas at trapping heat
Nitrous oxides: produced from burning fossil fuels/ wood and fertilizer production and use
Ozone: this is referring to ozone in the upper layer of troposphere not natural stratospheric ozone
Chlorofluorocarbons: also associated with depleting ozone in the stratosphere
Chemicals Responsible for thinning stratospheric ozone
Coolant/ refrigerants/ air conditioners/ refrigerators
Aerosol or propellant
Foam-blowing plastics/ insulation (styrofoam)
Solvents and cleaners
Fire retardant (fire extinguishers)
Soil fumigants/ pesticides (methyl bromide)
How do CFCs deplete ozone?
* One chlorine atom can break apart more than 100,000 ozone molecules.
Environmental Impact of stratospheric Ozone depletion
Increase in UV rays reaching earth’s surface (specifically UVB)
Human Health impact:
Sunburn/ skin cancer/ eye damage
Damage to immune system/ synergistic effect with air pollutants
Reduction of primary productivity in oceans
Disruption of food chains
Direct damage to fish/ amphibians, mammals
Widespread effects on major food crops
Decreased plant productivity
Effects of Ground level (tropospheric) ozone
Respiratory irritant/ coughing/ throat irritation
Shortness of breath/ eye irritant
Asthma/ emphysema/ bronchitis
Pneuomnia/ lung scarring/ impaired lung development in children/ supression immune system
Chlorosis/ bleaching/ spotting of leaves
Crop damage resulting in decreased yields
Kills leaf tissue at high concentrations
Stresses plants, makes them susceptible to disease
Quick! What’s the International Agreement that addresses ozone depletion?