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Saturday, March 2, 2013

THE IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENT AND BALANCE OF NATURE

ENVIRONMENT AND BALANCE OF NATURE 
This Earth serves not only as our one and only habitat in this universe but it is also our natural heritage as it is passed on from one generation to the next.
The next generation of human beings shall inherit this earth in the condition that we leave it. What our future children will have will depend directly on this generation of ours and hence it is our responsibility and duty to care for the environment today.
Many people do not realise the importance of looking after this fragile environment of ours. They take many things for granted and never think of conserving some of the natural resources we have today. They also think that the resources we have will never run out and we can continuously draw resources from the earth to make our lives easier and more comfortable.

Environmental problems such as depletion of natural resources, water pollution and global warming have all resulted mainly from human activities. However, not all is lost, as we can still do our part for the earth through environmental conservation.
Environmental conservation is the careful use of natural resources to ensure that there is enough for the future and ensuring that damage done to the environment will be minimum.

Why Is Our Environment Important?

The simplest explanation about why the environment matters is that, as humans, the environment-the Earth-is our home. It is where we live, breathe, eat, raise our children, etc. Our entire life support system is dependent on the well-being of all of the species living on earth. This is commonly referred to as the biosphere, a term created by Vladimir Vernadsky, a Russian scientist in the 1920s.The biosphere refers to one global ecological system in which all living things are interdependent.

Food Chain

The food chain is an example of this. The sun provides light and heat for plants. The plants are consumed by animals who are in turn consumed by other animals who may in turn, be consumed by humans. Or perhaps they are used for material, clothing, etc. Even insects like mosquitoes play a role and of course bees pollinate plants.

Ecosystem


Within the overall biosphere, or ecosystem, there are smaller ecosystems like the rainforests, marine ecosystems, the desert and the tundra. When any of these systems are off kilter, it impacts the entire planet. All of the environmental problems that exist have far-reaching implications for the health of our planet and its inhabitants.
For example, global warming causes a rise in sea levels which effects marine life. The rising sea levels also cause land erosion which harms the habitats of animals living by the coast. Global warming also melts polar caps and leads to arctic shrinking. This endangers the polar bears and other arctic wildlife. Since the icecaps are made of fresh water, they will throw off the saline levels in the ocean which will affect ocean currents. Furthermore, the ice caps reflect light. As they disappear the Earth will get darker and absorb more heat increasing the Earth's temperature.
 BALANCE OF NATURE AND FOOD WEB/CHAIN
Maintaining the Balance
Predators can often maintain the balance of nature.  If the prey species grows rapidly, the predators would have more food, and would decrease the population of the prey.  Also, the predators only attack the weak prey so the strong ones can breed and keep the species strong.


Parasites and diseases can reduce a population as well.  A bad thing, thparasiteough, is that most animals adapt to living with these pathogens (diseases and parasites). Stress can happen by being very crowded and can get animals to be very aggressive and fight with each other.  Not as many of the species breed and ones that do breed produce minimal litters.  Pathogens also spread quicker throughout crowded animals.

Upsetting the Balance
Kaibab Plateau Besides natural factors, human factors also can upset the balance of nature. Humans upset the balance through deforestation, pollution, overhunting, and livestock grazing.

In the early 1900’s, a stable population of deer lived on the Kaibab Plateau in Arizona.  Hunters came in and killed all the predators of the deer, and the deer grew at an astounding rate.  There was not enough food and many starved.  Balance did not return for a long time.

Another story that occurred in 1998 was that the population of kelp in the northern Pacific Ocean dropped massively because orcas were raiding sea otters in the kelp beds.  This made a boom in the population of sea urchins, the otters, favorite food

FOOD CHAIN


In the absence of predators, a species quickly increases in numbers. Eventually, a shortage of resources forces the population to level out. If a predator is introduced, the numbers of it's prey fall. Both populations soon decrease, but in nature, the prey rarely dies out altogether.
A food chain is a food pathway that links different species in a community. In a food chain, energy and nutrients are passed from one organism to another. Food Chains rarely contain more than six species because amount of energy passed on diminishes at each stage, or trophic level. The longest chains usually involve aquatic animals.
In a food chain, an animal passes on only about 10 percent of the energy it receives. The rest is used up in maintaining it's body, or in movement, or it escapes as heat. The amount of available energy decreases at every trophic level, and each level supports fewer individuals than the one before. This results in a pyramid of numbers with many organisms at the bottom and few at the top.

FOOD WEB-

A community of living things may contain hundreds or even thousands of different species. Each species is usually involved in several different food chains. Therefore different food chains often interconnect to form a large network, called a food web. Even in a small ecosystem, such as a pond, food webs can be extremely complicated.

TROPHIC LEVEL-

In a food chain, each species occupies a certain position in the chain. This position is called a trophic level. For example, owls eat mice, so if a food chain contains an owl and a mouse, the owls will be at a higher level. The number of trophic levels is the same as the number of species in the food chain. The same species may occupy different trophic levels in different food chains.

PRODUCER-

A producer is an autotroph, which means that it can make its own food. Producers form the first trophic level of a food chain, because they make the food that supports the other species in the chain. Green plants, and some kinds of bacteria, are the most important producers. They harness the Sun's energy to make food by photosynthesis. A few species of bacteria make food by chemosynthesis, which uses the energy in chemicals.

CONSUMERS-

Consumers are hetrotrophs, or living things that cannot make food for themselves. They survive by taking in good that has been made by other living things. A food chain contains several kinds of consumers, each of which occupies a different trophic level.

* Primary consumers eat producers
* Secondary consumers eat primary consumers
* Terciary consumers eat secondary consumers
* and so on...........

DECOMPOSER-

Decomposers, or saprotrophs, are a vital part of food webs. During the process of decay, they break down the organic compounds in dead remains and release their raw materials, such as carbon dioxide, back into the environment. Bacteria and fungi are the most important decomposers.

PREDATOR/PREY-

A predator is carnivorous. This means that it lives by eating other animals, which are known as it's prey. The term predator usually refers to animals that catch and kill. Most predators are larger that their prey; they have special adaptations to help them find and catch their food. These include good vision, a keen sense of smell, or strong legs for rapid movement. Prey also have special adaptations to help them survive the attack of their predators. Camouflage helps them blend in with their environment and hide, sharp senses warn them of attack, and speed allows them to escape.



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