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Ecosystems at Risk

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‘Compare the nature and rate of change that affect the functioning of TWO different ecosystems at risk. ’ An ecosystem is the dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment as a functional unit.

Ecosystems are systems through which incoming solar energy is captured and channelled through a hierarchy of life forms. Each ecosystem has its own characteristic plant and animal community. Nature of change refers to the natural or human induced change towards an ecosystem.Humans play a role in maintaining or disturbing the dynamic equilibrium of any ecosystem.

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They have the ability to minimise natural resources ecosystems in order to grow food, build habitats, and remove or extract specific resources. They also can remove unwanted species, both plants and animals and other species are provided with a favourable, more suitable environment for their survival by human intervention. Ecosystems are constantly changing and developing in response to stress induced changes.In nature, change usually takes a long time to occur.

The biome eventually adapts as animals and plants that have characteristics that aren’t suited to the occurring change eventually die out and those more suited to the change, remain alive and breed and pass their characteristics along to future generations. This is known as natural selection. Unexpected natural disasters have also caused whole species to die out almost instantly due to not having enough time to adapt.The damming of a river, the draining of a wetland or the cleaning of vast tracts of natural vegetation for agriculture are sudden and drastic changes that may result in loss of habitat and devastation of a species.

Catastrophic rates of change impact environments and ecosystems instantly and cause disturbances in these ecosystems. Drought, floods, fires, earthquakes and landslide are all examples of catastrophic changes affecting ecosystems. Gradual changes affecting ecosystems affecting ecosystems over time but don’t bring the same catastrophic effects to the ecosystems.Climate change, immigration of new species, evolution and ecological succession are all classified as gradual changes affecting ecosystems.

The Great Barrier Reef is a huge, complex ecosystem located off the east coast of northern Queensland and is considered as an ecosystem at risk. It stretches approximately 2300km from Papua New Guinea’s Fly River in the north (8?S) to Fraser Island in the south (24?S) and has become the largest World Heritage site in the world. It has 1500 of the worlds 13 000 fish pecies in it area, 200 bird species, 5oo species of seaweed, 600 species of echinoderm, 125 species of shark and ray and around 360 species of hard coral. The Great Barrier Reef is a highly active ecosystem.

Tropical cyclones are a major source of damage to this reef system. These storms create great waves that damage corals. They bring large amounts of fresh water onto the reef though forceful rain. The fresh water alters salinity levels, placing stress on the corals and other animals.

Human’s impacts have affected the Reef for thousands of years.Climate change, oil spills, tourism, overfishing, land clearing, sewage and waste disposal, coral harvesting and dredging and sand mining have all been major human impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. The impacts of climate change have affected the climate of northern Australia. The increase in sea surface temperature, the increase in average sea level, the change in rainfall patterns, changes to ocean currents and circulation, increased in extreme weather events and increase levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean, to a changed chemical structure.

Another ecosystem at risk is coastal dunes.Coastal dunes are defined as large accumulations of sand located immediately behind the active beach zone. Coastal dunes are created when sand is deposited onto the shore by wave action, dries out and is blown to the back of the beach. This process is known as accretion.

Coastal dunes are found on all the world’s land masses, they form wherever sand is available for their structure. Coastal dunes are characterised by constant change caused by natural and human-related forces and the changes it makes in response to various environmental stresses.

Cite this Ecosystems at Risk

Ecosystems at Risk. (2017, May 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/ecosystems-at-risk/

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