From Environmental Technology


1. Offer a possible reason why the tundra has such a low species richness.

  • Tundra has a low primary productivity. In this specific region the tundra only gets 12 cm of rain annually which could contribute to why there isn't many plant species. The ground has permafrost below the first layer of the soil, which keeps the roots of plants from imbedding and growing like they are suppose to. Certain animals require certain diets. If the tundra can not produce the plants the certain animals could not survive. That's why the tundra doesn't have a diversity in species. The tundra can provide an ecosystem for only certain species that can adapt and sustain life in the environment.

3. In which biome do you live? If your biome does not match the description given in this book, how do you explain the descrepancy?

  • I live in temperate grasslands. It says that very few trees grow except near rivers and streams which is not true for here. We have forests and trees that grow in yards that are not near a water supply. So we have a little of deciduous forests mixed in with the grassland. The temperate deciduous forests starts in Illinios by the Kentucky state line. So I think that some of the forest trees have migrated north a little into the Illinois grasslands.

4. Which biomes are best suited for agriculture? Explain why each of the biomes you did not specify is less suitable for agriculture.

  • Temperate grasslands and boreal forests are best suited for agriculture.
    • Tundra is not because it has a layer if permafrost which is permanently frozen ground. You wouldn't be able to grow any kind of plants on tundra.
    • Taiga has little precipitation and the soil is acidic and mineral-poor, this is not suitable.
    • Temperate rain & deciduous forests have too many trees to grow crops. The rain forest has nutrient-poor soil even though the organic content is high. The cool temperatures slow down the activity of bacteria andfungi which help decompose the litter [pine needles] take a really long time to decompose and release nutrients into the soil which it needs to help grow crops. This process wouldn't be fast enough to grow agriculture here.
    • Deserts are dry areas, they receive less than 10in of rain per year. The soil is low in organic material but is high in mineral contents [mainly salts, sodium chloride, calcium carbonate, & calcium sulfate] these minerals can cause the soil to become toxic which plants can not grow on. This is not a good biome for agriculture.
    • Savanna has low rainfall with prolonged dry periods. The soil is low in essential nutrient minerals. The soil is rich in aluminum that reaches levels that are toxic to plants. This is not suitable for agriculture.
    • Tropical rain forest there is too much precipitation. It rains daily. The soil is mineral-poor. There is little organic material that accumulates in soil because bacteria, fungi, and detritus feeding ants and termites decompose organic material rapidly. This is not a suitable biome for agriculture.

5. What human activities are harmful to deserts, to grasslands? to forests?

    • Deserts- People who drive across the desert in a 4-wheel drive vehicles inflict environmental damage. When the top layer of soil is disturbed, erosion occures more rapidly, and less vegetation grows to support native animals. People who poach the desert have caused certain cacti and desert tortoises to become rare. When houses, factories, and farms are built they have to have vast quantities of water impoirted. Increased ground water consumption by many desert cities have caused groundwater levels to drop which is critical.
    • Grasslands- People thought that the grasslands are well suited for agriculture. So they plowed 90% of tall grass prairies and the remaining prairie is so spread out that almost nowhere can you see what Europeans seen when they migrated to the midwest. Today tall grass prairies are considered North Americas rarest biome.
    • Forests- are used for lumber, pulpwood for paper products, animal furs, and other forest products. Theboreal forest is the worlds primary source of industrial wood and wood fiber, and extensive logging of certain boreal forsets have occured. Minning, drilling for gas and oil and farming have contributed to the loss of boreal forests.

6. Which biome do you think is in greatest immediate danger from human activities? Why?

  • Forests because people waste a lot of products that are made from the forest materials. A lot of things that people want instead of need like animal furs are being over used. The animals that are killed for thier furs are a part of the ecosystem of the forest. People do not care about the environment, they think as long as there are more forests the more materials there will be like logs,wood, animal furs, and paper products. Eventually if people keep cutting them down there will be no more forests.

8. Explain the role of freshwater wetlands in water purification.

  • Freshwater wetlands help cleanse the water by trapping and holding the pollutants in the flooded soil. This environment function is called ecosystem services.

10. Which aquatic ecosystem is often compared to a tropical rain forest? Why?

  • The number of relationships and interactions that occur at coral reefs are comparable only to the tropical rain forest because competition is intense, mostly for light and space to grow. Example of relationship is when tiny fish swim inside bigger fishes mouths to remove harmful parasites. The fish actually wait in line for their turn to be cleaned.
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