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Human impact on climax vegetation.

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Human Impact on Climax Vegetation "Human activity has had a much greater impact on the climax vegetation of the British Isles than all the climate changes since the end of the ice age" Since the last ice age there have been some major changes to the climate of the British Isles and the world as a whole. The temperatures fall during an ice age usually by 5�c, then after the ice age they rise again. The last ice age in Britain ended over 18,000bp (before present), since then there have been many changes in the climate leading to changes in the vegetation. After the last glacial period, although the south still had tundra plants most of the country was covered in bare solid rock, or glacial till. We can tell how the plant life has changed since this time by looking at scientific data, collected from various sources such as pollen records. Immediately after the glacial period temperatures rose to a cool 6�c in the summer, causing tundra plants to grow on much of the rock. 3,000 years later the average summer temperature was at 12�c causing willow and birch trees to grow, the next 2,000 years were dominated by the pre-Boreal period when a glacial period appeared to be advancing, this meant temperatures dropped to 4�c. ...read more.


The algae is followed by lichens; these are basically simple plants with no individual division between root, stem and leaves. These too can survive without much water, but they do begin to break down the rock and assist with water retention. As the water levels begin to increase slightly, on the rock, mosses form and again help improve with the retention of water. Moss also starts the process off which provides soil for more complex plants to live in. Grasses, ferns and flowering plants and herbs follow the moss, as these die they re-release important nutrients and bacteria into the developing soil which helps improve its fertility. Shrubs along with fast growing trees such as willow and birch start to develop, followed by slow growing trees, such as ash and oak. So what effect has human activity had on the whole process? Without knowing it, we often change the climax of the plants around us. For example deforestation stops or slows down the continuous development of a succession, when a succession is altered it's called a plagioclimax. Deforestation leads to the removal of many of the nutrients from the ecosystem and can lead to erosion. ...read more.


Human activity is also responsible for restricting plant growth in certain ways; we use chemicals to stop weeds growing and to control the growth of trees in some forest areas. There is no doubt that this has affected the natural vegetation succession. In conclusion there are many different things, which effect vegetation change over time. These are both physical factors and human factors and both types can completely change an ecosystem and effect its progression towards its climatic climax vegetation and its establishment as a natural biome. Although we wouldn't have much of the vegetation around us today if it weren't down to the climatic changes since the last glacial period, humans have certainly changed the way plants have developed, especially in urban areas. In the future with the increasing use of genetics it would appear that there will be even more division between the vegetation, which suits the climate, and the vegetation which human activity causes to develop. I wouldn't say that human activity has had more impact than climatic change but it seems to be an increasing factor in determining what vegetation we have on the British Isles. ...read more.

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