Our Topic: Canadian Ecosystems
In this unit, we were asked the question, "Do humans affect ecosystems". So to answer that question, we looked at Canada and very concentrated parts of it to connect it and further understand our learning. We chose Canada because we live here and if we know anything about how our ecosystem works, maybe we can help our Canadian ecosystem as a whole grow. We strive to be able to understand where we are living so we can be more aware in the future as Canadians.
What is an ecosystem?
An ecosystem is a living community in which organisms interact with their physical surroundings and vise versa. Ecosystems exist everywhere. Examples of an ecosystem could be a rainforest community, or even your own neighborhood.
Another example of an ecosystem are the Tundra ecosystems. Tundra ecosystems, located in polar regions or on the tops of very high mountains, are frozen and covered with snow for the majority of the year. Life is tough in this cold place but during the summer, snow may melt, enough to expose small wildflowers and attract migrating birds.
Photosynthesis and cellular respiration
An ecosystem consists of producers, consumers and decomposers. A producer is an organism that creates its own nutrients it requires to survive. Producers are always plants, never animals. This is because plants can undergo photosynthesis to create the nutrients they need. Photosynthesis is the process of plants making food for themselves in the presence of sunlight, carbon dioxide, chemical energy and water. Consumers are organisms that acquire the nutrients it needs by feeding off of other organisms already containing the nutrients. Consumers are normally animals. Since animals cannot undergo photosynthesis, they have eat plants and other animals who already have the nutrients to gain the nutrients for themselves. Instead, they would undergo cellular respiration, which is creation of energy in the presence of oxygen and nutrients, in this case their prey. Both producers and consumers undergo cellular respiration to acquire the energy they need to keep functioning. Decomposers are organisms that break down organic matter, substances created by organisms, into inorganic matter, substances that are not created by organisms. The most well known decomposer is fungi. An example of their action would be processing the nutrients in decaying bodies of organisms and transforming them into nutrients that the soil could reuse to stay healthy.
Although most ecosystems have what they need, ecosystems have requirements for its own survival. In an ecosystem, a balance is required for an ecosystem in the long run. If there is a tip in the balance, then populations in that ecosystem could change causing all the food chains and webs to be somewhat disrupted. For example, look at Lake Ontario. If there were more calanoids than normally existing, then the producers would get eaten up very rapidly, hence limiting other consumers food. If the ecosystem were to grow, every organism population should grow.
What is Biosphere?
The biosphere is our global ecological system which is connected to and their relationships also with their connection with the elements of the lithosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere.
Hydrosphere: Covering 70% of Earth's surface, the hydrosphere is all the water on earth in any form. Rivers, lakes, oceans, ice caps, these are all a part of the hydrosphere
Atmosphere: The thick membrane surrounding Earth, consisting of all the gases in the world (ie. oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide)
Geosphere: Also known as the lithosphere, covers 30% of Earth's surface. The geosphere is literally the rocky portion of Earth's surface.
Our biosphere is changing and not for the better. A major economic success in Canada is our oil sales in trade markets. It indeed is very successful, however, it is causing a major problem, not just in Canada, but also the world itself. We use oil and gas as essentials in our daily lives. When we use them, they pollute our air. This air pollution is causing a major problem: Climate change. When the climate changes so suddenly as it is now, this causes animals who cannot handle the sudden change to get sick or worse. Like stated before, if one population dies out, it can throw its ecosystem off balance. Ultimately, it would not be long before the ecosystem fails to survive.
In Canada, we are already starting to take precautions when we use oil or gas. One example would be the use of ethanol. Ethanol is a recycled bio fuel made by using biomass (corn and sugarcane's usually). This same bio fuel is also the same substance put in alcoholic drinks people drink. This fuel does not affect the air negatively and is being perfected in Canada today.
Soil and water quality
In any ecosystem, there are two important abiotic factors, the non living parts of ecosystems, that are essential to all biotic factors, the living parts of ecosystems, in an ecosystem. These two factors are soil and water. Soil composition and water quality is important in the lifespan of all organisms. The reason why soil composition is important is because soil is needed to grow plants. If the soil is harmed in any way, it would affect the way plants would grow, and plants are the starting point in any food chain. As for water quality, we need clean water to keep ourselves hydrated and for other daily needs. For ecosystems, the purity of water allows animals to drink from it, water to get into the roots of plants, and to form rain.
SOIL AND WATER QUALITY
However, unfortunately, we affect both soil and water quality negatively. An example would be the usage of oils. Whenever we burn oils, it releases harmful chemicals into the air. If this harmful chemical was to mix in with water vapor, that would cause clouds to be affected. When the clouds get infected, the vapor inside becomes acidic. This acidic vapor would cause acid rain later. Acid rain is very dangerous to both animals and plants. In fact, both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems could be damaged. Water quality would change when acid rain mixes in with the water bodies, causing a change in the lifestyle of ecosystems, as some organisms cannot survive under acid rain. As for terrestrial ecosystems, when the acid rain hits the ground, or soil, the acid rain slowly seeps into the ground and mixes in with the water that is supposed to be used by plants in the roots. This acidic water is not good for plants as it will make them sick. If plants die out, then they cannot provide nutrients for the consumers. Thus, destroying the ecosystem.