Comparison of the species diversity of the vegetation of upland and lowland ecosystems.

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A Level Biology



Comparison of the species diversity of the vegetation of upland and lowland ecosystems.


When studying a particular organism in its ecosystem physical features that may affect it such as rainfall, temperature, soil pH etc. are considered.  The physical features or abiotic features determine the range, type and number of species in the ecosystem.

Species diversity is measured in relation to a given area.  It can be assessed in terms of the number of species or the range of different types of species an area consists of.  The species diversity is determined by the abiotic factors existing in the ecosystem.

For both animals and plant temperature is an extremely important factor that determines they can survive or not.  The environmental temperature affects an organism, therefore affecting the rate of chemical reactions in the organism.  So, if the temperatures are not suitable for organisms to live in they will not be able to survive. There is a slight decrease in temperatures as the level of ground gets higher.  In general, populations tend to grow faster when situated in warmer regions.

Light is an important to consider for all types of vegetation as light is essential for the energy required for plants to photosynthesise.  However, light intensity does not seem to affect species diversity of vegetation in shaded regions because; plants have evolved to cope in low levels of light.  Plants can simply reproduce early to avoid the shade.  Other plants have evolved so that it is possible for them to photosynthesise and to reproduce effectively in low land areas.

The soil in ecosystems determines whether certain types of species are successful in surviving.  Soil types affect the plants directly because plants rely on soil to provide them with water and nutrients.  Soil can be acidic, alkaline or neutral.  Alkaline soils are alkaline because they are on limestone (calcarious).  Acidic soils are acidic due to peat, which is mainly on moor soils.  Vegetation that is lime hating can only exist in acidic and not alkaline soils.  Vegetation which is lime loving can only survives in alkaline and not acidic soils.  If a soil has quite high nitrate levels the soil will consist of many nutrients making conditions better for plants to survive in.

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There are three main categories for soils.  They are:-

  • Sandy soils.

Light in weight, heat up quickly, allows water to drain quickly, coarse particles, well separated and is easily eroded by water.

  • Clay soils.

Cold, heavy, often waterlogged, very fine particles which are closed together and form clumps when wet.

  • Silty soils.

Cold, heavy, medium sized particles which are quite close together and cam possible become waterlogged.

  • Loam.

Dark in colour, good crumb structure having a mixture of particles of different sizes and retains water to grow most plants but, at the same time ...

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