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Explain the importance of the ecosystem to a named river ecosystem and discuss how humans are impacting on it.

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Introduction

Geography essay 2004 The aim of this essay is to explain the importance of the ecosystem to a named river ecosystem and to discuss how humans are impacting on it. For my named river ecosystem I have chosen the everglades national park, Florida. Its location is shown below. I will split the essay task into two parts to answer them as best I can in an informative and clear way. The first will be on the importance of the ecosystem and the second will be on how humans are affecting it. An ecosystem is a self regulating biological community in which living things interact with the environment. They can range greatly in size from the inside of a tree trunk to an entire rainforest. The Florida everglades is a low, flat plain shaped by water and weather action. In the summer wet season it is a wide, grassy river. In the dry, winter season the edge of the slough is dry grassland. Though Everglades National Park is often characterized as a water marsh, there are several very distinct habitats that exist within its boundaries. These are shown in the picture below. Marine/Estuarine Florida Bay, the largest body of water within Everglades National Park, contains over 800 square miles of marine bottom, much of which is covered by sea grass. ...read more.

Middle

Acids from decaying plants dissolve the limestone around each tree island, creating a natural moat that protects the hammock plants from fire. Shaded from the sun by the tall trees, ferns and air plants thrive in the moisture-laden air inside the hammock. This is a good example of a smaller, mini ecosystem where the ferns and air plants rely on the wet air to survive. Should this be refused them then this unique ecosystem will collapse. Pinelands The slash pine is the dominant plant in this dry, rugged terrain that sits on top of a limestone ridge. The pines root in any crack or crevice where soil collects in the jagged bedrock. Fire is an essential condition for survival of the pine community, clearing out the faster-growing hardwoods that would block light to the pine seedlings. Pine bark is multi-layered, so only the outer bark is scorched during fires. The pinelands are the most diverse habitat in the Everglades, consisting of slash pine forest, saw palmettos, and over 200 varieties of tropical plants. In this case fire is essential for this mini ecosystem to remain, if the balance of natural fires is changed and more artificial ones created then other systems that are vulnerable to fire will suffer. This shows the basic sections of the everglades and some of the mini ecosystems that exist in them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also linked to water supplies are the key factors in water management that will affect the area. The first is water quality. The water runoff from nearby farms brings excess nitrates and phosphates into the park. Excess nutrients reduce the number of beneficial algae and promote unnatural growth of marsh vegetation. The second factor is water distribution. When too little water enters the area, large parts of the park cannot produce the small aquatic organisms that support the food web. For 100 years the area of everglades inundated has been drastically reduced. The third and fourth factors go together: Quantity and timing. Many animals are specifically adapted to the alternating wet and dry seasons. When human manipulations of the water supply are badly timed with natural patterns, disasters can result. An example of this is Alligators, who build their nests at the high-water level. If more water is released into the park, their nests are flooded and eggs destroyed. Another case is that Wading birds cannot find concentrated food sources for feeding their young. These reasons continue to threaten the Everglades and for many of the problems, no obvious answer is available. The situation will only get worse until someone can think of some effective solutions to these ever increasing problems. Until then, it is a case of hoping not much more of this unique area will be lost through our own doing. Tom Hager 12K ...read more.

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