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Energy and Life - Ecosystems.

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Introduction

26/09/04 Geography Essay Energy and Life - Ecosystems Compare and Contrast one High and one Low Productivity Ecosystem, Outlining the reasons for there often Unique Characteristics. This essay will describe two completely different ecosystems - a high productivity ecosystem [the tropical rainforest] and a low productivity ecosystem [the artic tundra]. Although they are two opposing ecosystems, I will attempt to compare their characteristics and features, including the soils, flora and fauna, climate and other features that are needed to sustain the lives that live in these entirely diverse environments. The high productivity ecosystem, i.e. the Rainforest is located around the equatorial parts of the earth, where it is hottest, for example - Central and South America (Amazon) with 57% of all rainforests, 25% of all rainforests are in South East Asia and the other 18% is in West Africa. ...read more.

Middle

The land is usually permanently frozen (permafrost) for half the year, but does thaw in summer. The average temperature is 0oC, with six months of below freezing. The vegetation only has 50 days in which to grow, however there is water in the other 315 days, but because of the strong winds and low temperatures, plants are too cold to use it, especially as most of it is frozen. This is Physiological Drought. The soils in the Rainforest are not as fertile as you first think. There is a thin layer called the litter layer which is made of fallen leaves, twigs etc, but under that the soil is infertile. The soil has a poor amount of nutrients and is acidic, though the soils are rich in iron, giving them their rich red colour. ...read more.

Conclusion

Whereas the rainforest is dense, the Tundra is sparse. There are less than 100 species of plant in the whole biome. The species are mainly mosses, lichens and grasses, are some shrubs and flowering plants. The rainforest there is 5 layers, in the tundra, there's only one layer of vegetation. In the northern part of the tundra, only mosses and lichens can survive the cold in strewn areas. In the southern part of the tundra, the weather is less severe, letting heath land take over and on the edge of the tundra small tree, such as birch and willow are scattered out on the grassland and heath land. The vegetation of the Rainforest and Tundra have adapted to suit their environment. The Rainforest trees have grown with thinner trunks, and smoother bark to allow for maximum water loss, as there is no worry about frost. Trees have grown taller to reach the sunlight and buttress roots ...read more.

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