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Using examples explain some of the ways in which human activity has had an effect on vegetation successions.

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Introduction

Ecosystems - The report Using examples explain some of the ways in which human activity has had an effect on vegetation successions. Humans have had many effects on vegetation. Succession is defined as the evolution of plant communities, so this question is looking at human activity on the evolution of plants. The most controversial human impact on vegetation is global warming. Rising global temperatures as a result of global warming are expected to raise sea level, and change precipitation and other local climate conditions. Changing regional climate could alter forests, crop yields, and water supplies. It could also affect human health, animals, and many types of ecosystems. The likely impacts of this onto the UK (by 2020) are; - Temperature increase at a rate of about 0.2oC per decade - with higher rates in the south east. This could prove beneficial to the region's economy (due to higher temperatures and less rain), but will cause a lot of changes to the environment. It will likely cause an increase in animal species, especially insects (as they migrate northwards, from Europe), but a decrease in plant diversity due to the loss of northern and mountain types. ...read more.

Middle

- Drought may cause the loss of broadleaved woodland - Species confined and dependent on particular areas of Britain may die out - Salt marsh vegetation may decline Specifically, global warming is likely to have an adverse effect on freshwater ecosystems. The problem is one of scale: Many of the most significant impacts on freshwater ecosystems will result from hydrological changes at the scales of small catchments and drainage basins. Water levels in lakes and reservoirs are highly sensitive to weather conditions; small lakes and reservoirs may fluctuate rapidly in response to changes in precipitation and evapotranspiration. Where water levels are likely to decline, inshore areas will change significantly. In shallow lakes and reservoirs in particular, inshore aquatic vegetation and surrounding wetlands would decrease in area. This decrease may result in changed habitats for aquatic biota, reduction of productivity, and even extinction of fish and invertebrate species that are dependent on these types of biomes. Where lakes have extensive bordering wetlands, declining water levels would reduce productivity and impact negatively on populations of fish and invertebrates that are dependent on these types of wetlands for their survival. ...read more.

Conclusion

The key problem is soil erosion. Soil, the thin layer of top-soil on which our survival depends, is a non-renewable resource. For nature to form a layer of top-soil thick enough to support plant life takes thousands of years. Through human misuse, the layer can be destroyed in a few decades, or in a few years. Once eroded, its loss is permanent. That is desertification. The encroachment of cultivation on these vulnerable lands has led to loss of biodiversity and accelerated soil erosion, making the people even more vulnerable to future droughts. The reduced capacity for food production as a result of vegetation loss has brought a population of over 200 million people to the verge of calamity. Some have died of starvation, and among the survivors, especially the children and young people, many will suffer impaired health for the rest of their lives. Overall, the main human impacts on plant communities are global warming, trampling, and desertification. This is, in general leading to a decrease in biodiversity, and a complete change in the makeup of plant communities. The ironic thing is, that in some areas (such as Africa) this human impact, is actually causing more problems in the long run than it had caused solutions in the short run. ...read more.

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