Environmental Enlightenment #220
By Ami Adini -
January 7, 2015

This is a SHORT, LIGHT and SIMPLE newsletter. Its purpose is to rekindle in the initiated terminology they have once learned, and enlighten the uninitiated on terms they may have heard but never knew the meaning of.

Ecosystems

Acknowledgement: The essence of the material in this issue is taken from Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem and reformatted, abbreviated and paraphrased to facilitate quick assimilation.

A system is a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole.

For example, a system of transport would be a set of connected trucks, trains, roads, railroads, loading and offloading docks, and depots forming a complex whole.

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Copyright: unkas / 123RF Stock Photo

 

The word Eco- concerns living things in relation to their environment. It derives from Greek oikos, household, house, or family.

An ecosystem is a community of living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) in conjunction with nonliving components (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system.

A coral reef is one example.


Copyright (c) 2004 Richard Ling; Licensed under Gnu Free Documentation License

 

The tadpole pond is another example

https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8003/7238143382_e8e96bc372_z.jpg
Black Toad Tadpoles in Freshwater Pond – Photo by Donna L. Long. donnallong.com (used with permission)

 

Ecosystems can be of any size but usually encompass specific, limited spaces (although some scientists say that the entire planet is an ecosystem).



Abiotic is a thing that is physical rather than biological: it contains no life.
All matter is abiotic. Rocks, sand, volcanos, waterfalls and ponds are examples of abiotic environments.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3e/Ulaan-Tsutgalan-waterfall.jpg
Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

 

Energy, water, nitrogen and soil minerals are essential abiotic components of an ecosystem.

The energy that flows through ecosystems is obtained primarily from the sun.

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Copyright: globalphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

 

By feeding on plants and on one another, animals play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through the system.

http://assets.inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2011/05/bee-pollinating.jpg
Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

 

Decomposers are organisms that break down dead or decaying organisms, and in doing so carry out the natural process of decomposition.

Decomposers use dead organisms and non-living organic compounds as their food source.

Examples of decomposers are bacteria, fungi and worms.

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Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont; Licensed under Gnu Free Documentation License

 

Within the ecosystem, decomposers break down dead organic matter and release carbon back to the atmosphere.

Decomposers facilitate nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead organic matter back to a form that can be readily used by plants and other microbes.

Ecosystems are controlled both by external and internal factors.

 

External factors, such as climate and the material which forms the soil and topography, control the overall structure of an ecosystem and the way things work within it, but are not themselves influenced by the ecosystem.

Ecosystems are dynamic entities—invariably, they are subject to periodic disturbances and are in the process of recovering from some past disturbance.

These pictures were taken one and two years after a wildfire in a pine forest.

Two photographs of the same section of a pine forest;  both show blackened bark at least halfway up the trees. The  first picture is noticeably lacking in surface vegetation,  while the second shows small, green grasses on the forest  floor.Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

 

Ecosystems in similar environments that are located in different parts of the world can have very different characteristics simply because they contain different species.

The introduction of non-native species can cause substantial shifts in ecosystem function.

Invasive bamboo is one example:


Photo by Balaram Mahalder; Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

 

Although humans exist and operate within ecosystems, their cumulative effects are large enough to influence external factors like climate.

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/images/scientists-clues-print.jpg
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/scientists/clues.html

 

The need to consider long-term ecosystem health and its role in enabling human habitation and economic activity is urgent.


With 2015 in fresh start, my wish for you is to love as the elephants do and
expand as the oak does.

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Copyright: aiisha5 / 123RF Stock Photo

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Copyright: daveallenphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

 

HAPPY 2015

 

You can find past issues of "Environmental Enlightenment" at www.amiadini.com Wealth of information about environmental site assessments in the real estate transactions and issues concerning assessment and cleanup of contamination in the subsurface soil and groundwater.

Call me if you have any questions. There are no obligations.

Ami Adini
Ami Adini & Associates, Inc.
Environmental Consultants
Underground Storage Tank Experts
818-824-8102; 818-824-8112 fax
mail@amiadini.com
www.amiadini.com

Ami Adini is a mechanical engineer, California Registered Environmental Assessor, Level II (Exp.), and president of AMI ADINI & ASSOCIATES, INC. (AA&A), an environmental consulting firm specializing in all phases of environmental site assessments and rehabilitation of contaminated sites. AA&A specializes in practical solutions to environmental concerns using the highest standards of ethics and integrity while providing its clients with maximum return on their investments.