Why Should We Care???? • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QD20zkRIE7o
What Are Ecosystems? • An ecosystem includes all of the living organisms in a specific area. • These systems are the plants and animals interacting with their non-living environments (weather, Earth, Sun, soil, atmosphere). • An ecosystem's development depends on the energy that moves in and out of that system. • An ecosystem can be as small as a puddle or as large as the Pacific Ocean.
What Are Biomes and How Are They Related to Ecosystems? • A biome is a large area on the Earth's surface that is defined by the types of animals and plants living there. • A biome can be partially defined by the local climate patterns. • You may also have more than one type of biome within a larger climate zone.
Types of Biomes • Tropical Rainforest (Think about the Amazon). • Desert (Think about the Sahara). • Mid-latitude Deciduous Forest (Think about the east coast of North America). • Freshwater – ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers(Think about Alcyon Lake). • Marine – oceans, coral reefs, and estuaries (Think of the Pacific Ocean). • Tundra (Think about The Artic).
Alcyon Lake has been a local hotspot for entertainment since the early 1900’s. • At this time the lake featured a boardwalk, skating rink, a bowling alley, and even arcade style entertainment. • Since this era Lake Alcyon has also been famous for its racetrack.
Originally there was a 1/3 mile bike race track in 1895, which was upgraded to a ½ mile horse race track in 1910, and finally upgraded to a 5/8th mile car racing track shortly after. • The track was an extremely popular race site in the fifties and attracted racers from New York to Maryland, a win there was very prestigious in the raceways prime. • The Alcyon Raceway was open all the way up till 1960 (Speedway). Currently the race track site has been converted into a recreational area including baseball fields.
Lipari Landfill http://wikimapia.org/6290187/Lipari-Landfill
Alcyon Lake is fed indirectly by the Mantua Creek through a tributary, Chestnut Branch. (A tributary is a stream or river which flows into a mainstream or parent river).
The Chestnut Branch is located in the highly developed suburban area including Rowan University and the town of Glassboro. • The Chestnut Branch runs adjacent to the Superfund site Lipari Landfill and the new Rowan University Tech Park Construction Site. http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl
Lipari Landfill • This was listed as the nation’s number one Superfund toxic-waste clean-up site when it was added to the priority list of 900 waste sites in need of clean-up across the country (NY Times). • Lake Alcyon has had troubles with pollution and sedimentation in recent years that has led to the lake being dredged twice in the last 30 years.
The first time was because of contamination from the Lipari Landfill, which was open from 1958 to 1971, accepted large amounts of dangerous, volatile wastes such as benzene, ethylene chloride, and arsenic. • The two streams feeding the lake, the Chestnut Branch Stream and the Rabbit Run Stream, run directly adjacent to the landfill and homes along the lake are as close as a couple hundred feet away.
People living close to the lake used the water for things such as watering their grass and washing their vehicles, not recognizing the hazardous substances that had contaminated the water from the landfill site. • The landfill was closed by state authorities in 1971 after people in the surrounding communities complained about respiratory irritation, nausea, dying vegetation, and extremely bad odors from the site
Before the plant was closed there had been an explosion and two fires on the site and contaminants had leached into the nearby waterways (EPA). • The treatment of the marsh soils took place in 1995 when approximately 128,000 tons of contaminated soil was removed from the marsh and clean soil put in its place (NY Times). • In the early 80’s the USEPA closed the lake as a recreational area as a result of the harmful contaminations that had entered the lake. • The lake did not reopen as a recreational area again until 1995 after the lake had been dredged and the contaminants had been treated. • Over 85,000 tons of contaminated sediment was dredged from Lake Alcyon (NY Times).
The soil from the dredged lake was then deposited on the site of the old racetrack and the lake was restocked with healthy fish. • The problems for the lake in most recent years have been from sediment, trash, and geese. • The lake had to be dredged again in 2006 due to a very large sediment plume that had developed at the mouth of the creek feeding into the lake (Shoemaker). • Sediment Plume at South End of Lake Alcyon
Possible reasons for this sediment build up include bank erosion and a blow out of the Rough Acres Dam. • Bank erosion is a likely suspect because the area upstream of the lake has undergone tremendous urban sprawl, and areas that were previously covered in vegetation are now impermeable surfaces. The concrete and asphalt cause an increase in the volume and velocity of water run-off after rain events. These changes can result in substantial surges of water during heavy storms. • Rough Acres Dam blow out 7-8 years ago caused the banks just beyond the dam to have suffered considerable erosion in the years since the dam blowout.
Amazon Rainforest Jaguar walks through the forest. Forest at beginning of flooding season.
Scarlet macaw sits on a branch. A tiny leaf frog peaks through a hole in a leaf.
Seringalhinho Lake at sunset, Jaú National Park, Amazonas, Brazil. Traditional hunting of Green iguana Marajo, a phenomenal island in the Amazonas Delta, Brazil.
A cattle egret rests on a branch as the rain pours down. Natural habitat of Açaí palm tree on Combu Island.
Cast netting and fisherman with caught fish on Marajo. Common cat-eye snake slithers over a branch. Timber transport. Rio Jaú and national park in dry season.
The Amazon River Basin is home to the largest rainforest on Earth. • The basin -- roughly the size of the forty-eight contiguous United States -- covers some 40% of the South American continent and includes parts of eight South American countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname, as well as French Guiana, a department of France. • The Amazon rainforest, also known as Amazonia, is one of the world's greatest natural resources.
Because its vegetation continuously recycles carbon dioxide into oxygen, it has been described as the "Lungs of our Planet". • About 20% of earth's oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest. • The Amazon rainforest consists of four layers or communities. Each layer has unique ecosystems, plants, and animals adapted to that system.
The emergent layer • The main layer or canopy • The understory • The forest floor
Scientists believe that the canopy may contain half of the world's species. • Over 500 mammals, 175 lizards and over 300 other reptiles species, and one third of the world's birds live in Amazonia. • It is estimated that about 30 million insect types can be found here. • Competition for survival is fierce. This may explain why over millions of years of evolution so many highly adapted species have evolved in the canopy of Amazonia.
The most intense competition is between animals and plants. • Both plants and animals have made adaptations to defend themselves from being eaten, and to overcome these defensive systems. • Plants trap sunlight and turn it into energy for themselves and the herbivores of the canopy.
Some animals found in the canopy are: • The harpy eagle, which preys on monkeys, kinkajous, sloth, reptiles, and other birds. • Sloths spend most of their lives in the treetops. Their diet of low nutrition leaves forces them to conserve energy, causing the sloth to spend 80% of its life resting. .
A large portion of a howler monkey's diet consists of leaves, which are hard to digest. Their metabolism is so low that they need to warm themselves up in the sunlight after a chilly night. • Leaf-cutter ants are responsible for harvesting a sixth of the area's leaves, bringing leaf fragments to their underground nests. They play a critical role in the rainforest's ecosystem by pruning the vegetation, which stimulates new growth, and breaking down the leaves to renew the soil.
Despite all of its abundant richness, Amazonia's giant trees grow in the poorest of soil. • The top two inches of the acidic soil contains 99% of the nutrients. • Nine tenths of the forest's energy is stored in the leaves and tissues of the trees themselves. • The forest floor is a porous mass that prevents minerals and nutrients from being washed away and lost. • As soon as a tree falls, or a creature dies, decomposers begin to turn it into a food source and mulch. • The vegetation to renew the cycle quickly absorbs the nutrients that are released. This is the tightest, most efficient ecosystem in nature. • The destruction of one part of the system can spell the destruction of the whole system.
Today, more than 20% of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed and is gone forever. • The land is being cleared for cattle ranches, mining operations, logging, and subsistence agriculture. • Some forests are being burned to make charcoal to power industrial plants. • More than half of the world's rainforests have been destroyed by fire and logging in the last 50 years. • Over 200,000 acres are burned every day around the world, or over 150 acres every minute. • Experts also estimate that 130 species of plants, animals, and insects are lost every day. • At the current rate of destruction, it is estimated that the last remaining rainforests could be destroyed in less than 40 years.
The Arctic The Arctic is named for the north polar constellation “Arktos”—Greek for “bear.” • It is 14.5 million square km (5.5 million square miles)—almost exactly the same size as Antarctica—and has been inhabited by humans for close to 20,000 years. • It consists of the ice-covered Arctic Ocean and surrounding land, including all of Greenland and Spitsbergen, and the northern parts of Alaska, Canada, Norway, and Russia.
The Arctic ecosystem has a unique, complex food web that is fashioned by its distinctive plankton, animal species, and environmental factors. • Carbon also cycles through the web from atmosphere to seawater and back. • Phytoplankton and algae take up carbon dioxide from seawater and transform it into the organic carbon of their tissue. • Then it flows through successive levels of eating animals that convert their prey’s carbon into their own tissues or into sinking fecal pellets. • Along the way, some carbon dioxide escapes back to the atmosphere through the organisms' respiration.
Scientists now know that warming temperatures are affecting the Arctic Ocean, producing changes that may have cascading effects on the Arctic’s interlinked and delicately balanced food web. • Changes in the food web not only threaten life in the Arctic region, they also could have impacts on Earth’s climate. • Populations of Arctic plankton for example, not only provide food at the base of the food web, they also convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into organic matter that eventually sinks to the ocean bottom—effectively extracting a heat-trapping greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.
The polar bear is the world's largest land predator, and is found throughout the Arctic. • Climate change is the main threat to polar bears today. • A diminishing ice pack directly affects polar bears, as sea ice is the platform from which they hunt seals
Is the largest of the Earth’s oceans. • Its name is derived from the Latin name Mare Pacificum, "peaceful sea", bestowed upon it by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. • It extends from the Arctic in the north to Antarctica in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east. • At 169.2 million square kilometers (65.3 million square miles) in area, this largest division of the World Ocean – and, in turn, the hydrosphere – covers about 46% of the Earth's water surface and about 32% of its total surface area, making it larger than all of the Earth's land area combined.
AP) -- Scientists say the oxygen-starved "dead zone" along the Pacific Coast that is causing massive crab and fish die-offs is worse than initially thought. • Marine pollution is a generic term for the harmful entry into the ocean of chemicals or particles. • The biggest culprit are rivers that empty into the Ocean, and with it the many chemicals used as fertilizers in agriculture as well as waste from livestock and humans. • The excess of oxygen depleting chemicals in the water leads to hypoxia and the creation of a dead zone.
Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is a term used to describe human-created waste that has found itself floating in a lake, sea, ocean or waterway. • Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the centre of gyres and coastlines, frequently washing aground where it is known as beach litter.
It is the world's largest hot desert. • At over 9,000,000 square kilometers (3,500,000 sq mi), it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as the United States or the continent of Europe. • The Sahara is a vast area of largely undisturbed habitat, principally sand and rock, but with small areas of permanent vegetation.
In recent years development projects have started in the deserts of Algeria and Tunisia using irrigated water pumped from underground aquifers. • These schemes often lead to soil degradation and salinization because of "drainage" problems. (salinization is a build up of salt in the soil)
The most degradation is found where there is water (oases, etc). Here, habitats may be heavily altered by human activities. • Previously existing tree cover has often been removed for fuel by nomadic pastoralists and traders. • The populations of large animals have been greatly reduced by hunting for food, and also through hunting for sport and recreation.
The addax (Addax nsaomaculatus) is now critically threatened with extinction, mainly due to intense over-hunting, and most of the other desert-adapted antelopes that may still occur in the ecoregion are endangered.