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Kinds of Ecosystems Chapter 4

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1 Kinds of Ecosystems Chapter 4
“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Aristotle, Greek Philosopher

2 Biomes of the World Earth is covered by hundreds of types of ecosystems which are grouped into a few biomes Biomes have distinctive climates, plants and organisms; they are named for their plant life but the main determinant is the climate (temperature, precipitation, humidity, winds)

3 4.1 Forests Tropical Rainforests
Occur in a belt around the Earth near the equator Always humid and warm; get about 250 cm (100 in) of rain per year Get strong sunlight year-round; maintains a climate with little seasonal variation in temperature. Ideal climate for growing plants; nourishes more plant species than any other biome (1 hectare temperate forest contains 10 species of trees/ same area of tropical rainforest contain over 100 species) Soil is not rich, usually thin and poor; rapid decay of plants and animals return nutrients to soil---used up by plants or washed away by rainfall Trees form aboveground roots—growing sideways from the trees, providing extra support

4 Rainforest: Plant Adaptations
Plants grow in layers; trees more than 30 m (100 ft) tall form a dense canopy-absorbs at least 95% of the sunlight Little light reaches below the canopy (understory); only trees and shrubs adapted to shade can grow (ex: herbs with large flat leaves) When trees fall, tree seedlings adapted to grow quickly outcompete other seedlings Orchids and monkey ladder vines use the tall tree trunks for support high in the canopy

5 Rainforest: Animal Adaptations
Incredible diversity of vegetation may have led to the evolution of the greatest diversity of animals anywhere on Earth Little competition; most animals are specialists and are adapted for a specific purpose ex: antwrens – variety of species that eat insects at different layers; flowering plants that can be pollinated by only one species of insect, bat or bird Some animals have developed elaborate methods for escaping predators; others have equally evolved methods of capturing their prey ex: insects (butterfly) that looks like a leaf or twig; frogs that blend perfectly with plants; poisons on their skin with bright colors to warn predators

6 Threats to Rainforests
Used to cover 20% of Earth’s surface; today, only about 7% Every year tropical rainforests are stripped by logging operations or cleared for farming or cattle grazing (the size of North and South Carolina combined) As they disappear, so do the habitats, plants and animals become extinct Traditions and cultures are lost as native people are displaced Help save the rainforests by looking for rain-forest friendly products and support organizations that preserve tropical forests

7 Temperate Rain Forest Found in North and South America, Australia and New Zealand Pacific Northwest is home of the only North American temperate rainforest 300 ft tall evergreen trees (Sitka spruce, Douglas fir) dominate the forest; mosses, lichens and ferns are abundant Moisture pervades everything; cool, humid forest Located at 48° north latitude; rarely freezes (Pacific Ocean moderates the temperature)

8 Temperate Deciduous Forests
Occur between 30° and 50° north latitude; seasonal variations can be extreme and growing season is from 4 to 6 months Trees drop their leaves in the fall; summer temperatures can soar to 35° C ( 95° F); winter temperatures plummet below freezing Deciduous forests are moist receiving cm ( in) of precipitation Rain and snow help decompose dead organic matter (leaves) contributing to the deep, rich soil

9 Deciduous Forests: Plant Adaptations
Plants grow in layers; forest canopy is dominated by tall trees (maple, oak, birch) Small trees, shrubs, bushes grow in the understory Forest floor gets more light than the rain forest floor, thus more ferns, herbs and mosses grow there Plants are adapted to survive seasonal changes; seeds, bulbs and rhizomes become dormant in the ground, trees lose their leaves In spring, as sunlight increases and temperatures increase, leaves re-emerge on trees, seeds germinate and rhizomes and roots put forth new shoots

10 Deciduous Forests: Animal Adaptations
Animals are adapted to forage the forest plants for food and shelter Squirrels eat nuts, seeds and fruits; bears eat leaves and berries, deer eat leaves from trees and shrubs; birds nest in the tops of trees Birds are migratory—fly south in the winter to avoid the harsh weather; return in spring Animals that stay use various strategies for survival—bears and squirrels become inactive; insects enter a state of very low metabolic activity

11 Taiga Aka: boreal forest; has rough terrain and the forest floor is sparsely vegetated Trees seem barren until you look up to see the green tops Located across the northern hemisphere just below the Arctic Circle; winters are 6 to 10 months and extremely cold with subfreezing temperatures that plummet to -20°C (-4°F). The frost-free growing season may be as short as 50 days depending on the latitude; enhanced only by constant daylight during the summer months

12 Taiga: Plant Adaptations
Trees whose seeds develop cones (conifers, such as, pine, hemlock, fir, spruce) do not shed their needle-shaped leaves; narrow shape leaves and waxy coating retain water when moisture in the ground in frozen The shape (pointed) of the tree helps it shed snow; otherwise the snow would crush the tree Conifer needles (contain acidic substances), acidify the soil when they fall, preventing other plants from growing; blueberries, a few ferns and mosses can survive the acidic soil Climate and acidity hinder decomposition which results in slow soil formation

13 Taiga: Animal Adaptations
This biome is dotted with lakes and swamps in the summer, attracting birds that feed on insects, fish or other wetland organisms Birds migrate south in the winter; shrews and voles burrow underground; moose and arctic hare eat whatever vegetation they can find; lynx, wolves and foxes eat the hare and shed their brown summer fur and re-grow a thick white fur in the winter

14 4.2: Grasslands, Chaparral, Deserts and Tundra
Climates with less rainfall: forests  savannas, grasslands, chaparrals  deserts As precipitation decreases, so does the diversity of species present Number of different species is smaller, individuals of each species is even smaller Another type of “desert” is present far to the north. It is called the tundra. Very little precipitation occurs here and temperatures stay very cold year round

15 Savannas West African plains contain the greatest collection of grazing animals on Earth and the predators that hunt them Found near the tropics, near the equator Not many trees, too little rainfall (only at certain times of the year) Grass fires may sweep across savannas in the dry season

16 Savannas: Animal Adaptations
Migratory lifestyle of the large, grazing herbivores. Animals follow the rains to newly sprouted grasses Predatory animals follow their mobile food source Give birth during rainy season when food is more abundant and survival is greatest Avoid competition by eating vegetation at different heights

17 Savannas: Plant Adaptations
Savanna trees and grasses have large underground root systems that survive fires so plants regrow quickly after fires and survive long dry seasons Course savanna grasses have vertical leaves Trees and shrubs have thorns or razor sharp leaves – deter herbivores

18 Temperate Grasslands: Prairies, Steppes and Pampas
Grasslands have the most fertile soil of any biome Many grasslands have been replaced with crops of corn, soybean and wheat Grasslands at one time covered 42% of the total land surface on Earth; today, they cover only about 12% Found on interiors of continents where there is too little rainfall for trees to grow Mountains play a crucial role in maintaining grasslands by blocking rain clouds thus maintaining low rainfalls Sizzling summer temperatures make grasslands a tinderbox; fire is common in grasslands

19 Temperate Grasslands: Plant Adaptations
Prairie grasses are perennials, surviving from year to year Root systems form dense mats the survive drought and fire and hold the soil in place Rainfall determines what type of grasses will grow in an area Few trees will survive on the grasslands because of drought, fire and constant battering of winds

20 Temperate Grasslands: Animal Adaptations
Grazing animals (pronghorn antelope and American Buffalo) have large, flat back teeth for chewing coarse prairie grasses Grazers cope with severe winters by growing thick coats of fur which they shed in spring Badgers, prairie dogs, owls live in protected underground burrows; these burrows shield them from fire, the elements and predators

21 Threats to Temperate Grasslands
Cultivation and overgrazing have changed the grasslands Grain crops have replaced native grasses and cannot hold the soil in place as well because their roots are shallow, resulting in soil erosion Overgrazed animals are constantly chewing down the grasses hindering them from regenerating or holding the soil, thus furthering soil erosion

22 Chaparral Occurs in the mid-latitudes (30 degrees north and south of the equator) Lies primarily in coastal areas that have Mediterranean climates Known for their hot, dry summers; mild, wet winters; and slight variations in seasonal temperatures

23 Chaparral: Plant Adaptations
Mostly low-lying evergreen shrubs and small trees ex: chamise, manzanita, shrub oak, olive trees and cooking herbs like sage and bay Plants have small, leathery leaves that resist water loss; they contain oils that promote burning Natural fires destroy trees allowing light and space for smaller plants Plants are well adapted and can regrow from small bits of surviving tissue

24 Chaparral: Animal Adaptations
Common adaptation is camouflage – shape or coloring that allows them to blend with their environment Quail, lizards, chipmunks and mule deer have brownish gray coats that allows them to move through the brush Animals have adapted to seasonal differences for food ex: scrub jay (bird) has a beak adapted for a varied diet (insects, seeds, other birds’ eggs and baby birds)

25 Threats to the Chaparral
Biggest threat worldwide is human development This biome has lots of sun, access to oceans and mild year-round climates which is inviting to humans

26 Deserts They are the driest places on Earth, receiving less than 25 cm (10 in) of precipitation a year Hot deserts occur closer to the equator than cold deserts Often occur in the rain shadow of mountains (leeward side of the mountain)

27 Deserts: Plant Adaptations
Plants in the desert have adaptations for obtaining and conserving water Succulents and cacti have thick, fleshy stems and leaves that store water; have waxy coating to prevent water loss Spines deter thirsty animals from eating plant’s juicy flesh Roots are shallow and spread out widely Plants are adapted to drought, will die when it is too dry, drop their seeds which lie dormant until the next rainfall when they germinate, grow and bloom before the soil becomes dry again (drought-resistance)

28 Deserts: Animal Adaptations
Reptiles (gila monsters, rattlesnakes) have thick, scaly skins that prevent water loss Amphibians (spadefoot toad) survive scorching desert summers by burying themselves in the ground and sleeping through the dry season (estivating) Insects and spiders are covered with body armor to help them retain water Most animals are activate at night or at dusk, when the air is cooler

29 Threats to the Desert In the American West, residential development encroaches upon the desert areas Off-road and all-terrain vehicles kill desert vegetation, destroying habitats of endangered animals (desert tortoise) Humans removing desert plants endanger plant populations

30 Tundra Lies north of the Arctic Circle; has no tall trees
Frozen soil supports mostly tough grasses and shrubs Summers are short; only a few inches of the soil thaws; becomes dotted with bogs and swamps during the thaw periods; makes an ideal breeding ground for huge numbers of swarming insects (mosquitoes, blackflies) and birds that feed on them Under soil lies the permafrost (permanently frozen soil)

31 Tundra: Plant Adaptations
Mosses and lichens cover acres of rocks (don’t need soil to grow) Where soil (thin) exists, plants have shallow, wide roots which anchor them against arctic winds Flowering plants (moss campion, gentian) are tiny and hug the ground for warmth and to stay out of the wind Woody plants and perennials (willow, junipers) have evolved dwarf forms and grow flat or trailing Plants grow and flower quickly (short summers)

32 Tundra: Animal Adaptations
Millions of migratory birds breed during the short summer because of the abundant food supply (plants, mollusks, worms, insects) Caribou and reindeer migrate; wolves prey on the caribou, deer, moose, lemmings, mice and rabbits. Rodents burrow underground during winter Year-round residents (arctic fox) have white fur in winter; coats are extremely well insulated (musk ox)

33 Threats to the Tundra One of the most fragile biomes on Earth
Food chains are relatively simple and can be disrupted easily Conditions are so extreme, land is easily damaged and slow to recover. Oil extraction and transport across land has brought humans to the area, which has disturbed the delicate balance of the biome

34 4.3 Freshwater Ecosystems
Includes sluggish waters of lakes and ponds, moving waters of rivers and streams and areas where land and water come together Contains relatively little dissolved salt Plant and animal life depends on depth of water; how fast water moves; amount of sunlight, mineral nutrients, oxygen

35 Lakes and Ponds Littoral zone – where aquatic life close to shore is diverse and abundant; nutrient-rich area Further out, where there is still sunlight for photosynthesis, live the phytoplankton (plants) and zooplankton (tiny animals) Deep lakes and ponds (too little light) contain a few fish adapted to cooler water and bacteria (decompose the dead plants and animals) Benthic Zone – bottom of a body of water; inhabited by decomposers, insect larvae, clams Lakes with large amounts of plant matter are eutrophic (plants and algae grow in large quantities; bacteria break down dead matter using up oxygen; diversity of species decline).

36 Lakes and Ponds: Plant and Animal Adaptations
Along the shore (cattail, reeds) are rooted in the bottom mud, leaves emerge above water Deep water contain floating plants (pond lilies) Water beetles use hairs under their bodies to trap surface air to breathe during dives for food Catfish sense with whiskers Fish are adapted to certain temperature ranges: lake trout (cold water); bass (warmer waters) Amphibians will burrow in mud in lakes that partially freeze

37 Wetlands Areas that are covered by water for at least part of the year
Two main types: Marshes: contain non-woody plants Swamps: contain woody plants or shrubs Perform several important environmental functions: serve as spawning and feeding grounds for game fish; providing homes for native and migratory wildlife (including endangered and threatened species); vegetation traps carbon which would otherwise be released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide; removes pollutants from water; controls flooding; produces products such as cranberries, blueberries, peat moss

38 Wetlands: Marshes Shallow waters contain reeds, rushes and cattails; deep waters (benthic) contain plants, decomposers and scavengers Grebe and ducks (waterfowl) have beaks adapted for eating marsh vegetation Herons have spear like beaks to catch small fish and frogs Attract nesting birds (blackbirds) Kinds of marshes: (determined by salinity) Brackish: slight salinity Tidal: saltier water Florida Everglades is largest freshwater marsh in U.S.

39 Wetlands: Swamps Occur on flat, poorly drained land, near streams
Dominated by shrubs or water-tolerant trees (red maple, cedar, oak, cypress – depending on latitude and climate) Mangrove swamps occur in warm climates near ocean (more saline water) Ideal habitat for amphibians (green frog, salamanders) and attract birds (wood ducks) that nest in hollow trees

40 Threats to Wetlands Used to be considered wastelands (breeding grounds for pesky insects) so people “improve” them by draining and clearing them for farms, residential or commercial development However, we now view them as purifiers (wastewater and absorbers of hazardous flood waters) Vital habitats for wildlife for breeding (herons, storks, other birds) Home to many amphibians and reptiles (alligators, crocodiles) Federal government now prohibits the destruction of wetland areas

41 Rivers Originate from snowmelt in mountains
Headwaters-water is usually very cold and highly oxygenated; runs swiftly; shallow As it moves down the mountain, it broadens; water is warmer, loses oxygen and flows more slowly Characteristics vary depending on land and climate Runoff wash nutrients and sediment from surrounding land into a river, thus affecting growth and health of organisms in the river

42 Rivers: Plant and Animal Adaptations
Near headwaters, mosses anchor themselves to the rocks Mayflies use hooks on their legs to cling to any stable surface Trout (streamlined bodies, powerful swimmers) and minnows are adapted to live in the cold, highly oxygenated water Downstream – catfish, carp (adapted to glide over river bottom) prefer warmer, calmer water Freshwater aquatic plants (crowfoot) set roots in soil; many have arrowhead shaped leaves depending on the speed of the water

43 Threats to Rivers Industries use river water in manufacturing processes and as a receptacle for waste People have used rivers to dump sewage and garbage These practices have polluted the rivers with toxins; killing river organisms and making the fish inedible Runoff from the land is putting pesticides and other poisons into the rivers and coats the riverbeds with toxic sediments Dams alter river flows and destroy fish habitats

44 4.4 Marine Ecosystems The oceans of the world contain a wide variety of plants and animal communities The types of organisms present in marine ecosystems depend on temperature and the amount of sunlight and nutrients are available.

45 Estuaries An ecosystem where fresh water from rivers mixes with the salt water from the ocean; mineral rich soil; a nutrient trap; in shallow areas, marsh grass grows One week each spring, huge snowshoe crab crawl out of the ocean onto the beaches of the Delaware Bay to mate and lay their eggs. Shorebirds wait for them and millions of migrating birds will stop there to gorge on the eggs

46 Estuaries: Plant and Animal Adaptations
Among the most productive ecosystems; contain plenty of light, nutrients for plants Rivers supply nutrients washed from the land; water is shallow; sunlight reaches the bottom Can support large amounts of plants, phytoplankton and zooplankton which provide food for larger animals (fish, dolphins, manatees, seals, other mammals) Oysters, barnacles, clams live anchored to marsh grass or on the bottom and filter algae and debris out of the water Organisms can tolerate variations in salinity

47 Threats to Estuaries Many of the world’s major ports are built on estuaries; seven of the ten largest urban areas (Tokyo, New York, Shanghai, Calcutta, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Bombay) Were used as dumping grounds, especially in California; now, plans are to restore them to estuary wetlands Industrial waste, agricultural runoff, pesticides, fertilizers damage estuaries Most of the pollutants will break down over time, but estuaries cannot cope with the large amounts produced by humans

48 Coral Reefs Limestone islands in the sea that are built by coral animals called polyps (very slow growing); thousands of species of plants and animals live in the cracks and crevices; among the most diverse ecosystems on Earth Corals live in only warm salt water; a lot of light for photosynthesis; shallow, tropical seas Only outer layer of coral is living

49 Coral Reefs: Animal Adaptations
Coral Polyps are predators that never chase their prey; use stinging tentacles to capture small animals that float or swim too close Provide habitats for a variety of tropical fish, snails, clams, sponges Parrotfish have teeth fused into their beaks which they use to scrape algae and corals off the reefs to eat

50 Threats to Coral Reefs If they get too hot or too cold, or fresh water drains into the water surrounding the reef, corals cannot produce limestone. If it is too muddy, too polluted, too high in nutrients, algae will die or grow out of control and smother the corals Oil spills, sewage, pesticides, silt runoff are linked to coral-reef destruction Overfishing can devastate fish populations, upsetting the balance Reef cannot repair itself after being destroyed by careless divers, shipwrecks, anchors, people breaking off pieces

51 The Ocean Covers nearly ¾ of Earth’s surface
Plants only grow where there are nutrients and light; most life is in shallow water around the edges of continents; abundant with plants and animals in these areas Open ocean, phytoplankton grows near the surface (sunlight) if there are nutrients; one of the least productive of all ecosystems The depths of the ocean are dark and most of the food consists of dead organisms (falling from the surface)

52 Ocean: Plant Adaptations
No flowering plants except around the edges Food for herbivores in the open ocean are phytoplankton (floating by being buoyant or having long spines; whip-like flagella; oil droplets) When they die, they sink to the bottom

53 Ocean: Animal Adaptations
Smallest herbivores are the zooplankton (jellyfish, tiny shrimp, fish larvae) which live near the surface; others (oysters, lobsters) live at the bottom Dozens of fish, as well as seals and whales (mammals) feed on plankton Evolved sleek, tapered shapes for moving through dense water; silvery color (protective camouflage); buoyancy devices to stay at one level (sharks –oily livers; bony fish – gas-filled swim bladders; mammals – lungs Sunlight penetrates about 100 m (330 ft) into the sea; no light below that (decomposers, filter feeders and organisms that eat them live here) Poor visibility at these depths so organisms use “light” to communicate (luminous) or sound (whales – “songs”; dolphins – clicks and calls

54 Threats to the Ocean Pollution – comes from the land; same as the pollutants on the land (fertilizers causing toxic algal blooms; industrial waste; sewage discharged into rivers, particularly from nuclear power plants) Overfishing and some fishing methods have destroyed fishing grounds, nets entangling every living thing bigger than the holes (most of the catch are not used and are thrown back, dead); marine mammals drown; fishing lines are discarded in the ocean and strangle fish, seal All of these things are reducing reproduction thus endangering many species

55 Polar Ecosystems Ice covered North and South Pole are considered marine ecosystems because most of the food supply is phytoplankton South Pole lies on the continent of Antarctica and is covered with a permanent icecap (melts only around the edges); North Pole is not on land at all; lies in the Arctic Ocean, frozen into a huge iceberg throughout the year with little icebergs floating around it

56 The Arctic Relatively shallow; rich in nutrients; supports large populations of plankton This provides food for a diversity of fish, whales, ocean birds (who prey on the fish), seals The birds and seal bear their young on the ice; they provide food for the few humans that live there and for the polar bear

57 The Antarctic Only continent never colonized by humans
Used mainly for research on the unusual animals that live there Only a few plants live there Plankton forms basis of the food chain; feeds fish, whales, penguins

58 Threats to Polar Ecosystems
Contains reserves of minerals (oil) whose extraction would disrupt this large untouched ecosystem Conservationists want it made into a world wildlife refuge Main threat is tourism (garbage left behind, does not decay because it is so cold) They are working to solve that problem

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