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Ecosystem, Structure, Function, and Change

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Ecosystem Structure, Function, and Change
Doris Winters
SCI/256
September 7, 2015
University of Phoenix

Ecosystem Structure, Function, and Change
Of all the wonders we have in these United States, I have chosen The Great Lakes as my topic to discuss the changes these wonderful bodies of water are currently experiencing. I have narrowed my view to Lake Michigan, as it is the largest of the lakes. From the EPA: On November 15, 1990, in response to mounting evidence that air pollution contributes to water pollution, Congress amended the Clean Air Act and included provisions that established research and reporting requirements related to the deposition of hazardous air pollutants to the "Great Waters." The water bodies designated by these provisions are the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, Chesapeake Bay, and certain other coastal waters (identified by their designation as sites in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System or the National Estuary Program). (EPA, 2015)
Lake Michigan currently functions with the dynamic, being it has exceptional fishing, irrigation and provides clean drinking water to the communities surrouding the lake. Its structural dynamic as an ecosystem currently offers for research and developmet all human threats. An example is the introduction of invasive species, such as zebra mussels and those HABs (Harmful Algal Blooms), that expand because of the nutrients in certain fertalizers. The scientific community is also doing research yearly, to investigate the weather factors that may increase the HABs growth and spreading issues.
Being human and always in need has affected the ecosystem that is Lake Michigan drastically. Because we need the space near the lake for agriculture, roads and harvesting of wood, we have caused an increase in the runoff from rain, increased the risk of flooding and caused an increase in the erosion of soil around the lake. The effects of human need has also impacted biogeochemical carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles. The carbon cycle is very necessary to life in anything. It is also a key component of “natures thermostat”. The human impact of burning wood and being the producers of global warming has caused this cycle to be disrupted. The nitrogen cycle is equal to approx. 78% of our earths atmosphere. Humans have removed nitrogen from soil, added nitric oxide to the atmosphere, and by the use of many different forms of fertilizers being applied to soil, the ‘greenhouse effect’ has increased. The phosphorous cycle is a necessary element that unfortunately exists in small amounts in the soil. This element can be replenished through the marine animals eating sediments, and when those sea animals are eaten by sea birds, the feces from those birds drops onto the soil and becomes a natural fertilizer. The human impact on the phosphorus cycle by removing trees and mining causes the phosphorus to be washed away. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (2015) website: Brownfield properties are those in which the redevelopment or reuse of the property may be complicated by the presence or perception of contamination. Revitalizing and redeveloping these properties protects the environment, reuses existing infrastructure, minimizes urban sprawl and creates economic opportunities. The Remediation and Redevelopment Division provides financial and technical assistance including grants, loans, tax increment financing and free site assessments to facilitate the redevelopment of brownfield properties (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, 2015). Without the intervention of government agencies like the EPA and Michigans DEQ, the public that does not care about our environment could run rampant. The Great Lakes would become a cess pool filled to the brim with by-products that can threaten our health. The lakes would contain various hazardous waste materials, old tires and tons of medical waste. The introduction of zebra mussels and other HABs, is causing great harm to the ecosystem that is Lake Michigan. With the proper education, boaters and those industries that contribute to the problems the lakes are experiencing, in time those issues will diminish. The Office of Waste Management and Radiological Protection (OWMRP), provide guidance to their staff so that enforcement is carried out in a professional manner. They also run programs like pollution prevention and ways to minimize waste. Below is a diagram of how the process works to protect The Great Lakes: The Compliance and Enforcement Process Diagram, from Michigan DEQ. References
Evironmental Protection Agency. (2015, July 1). Great Lakes. Retrieved from United States Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. (2015, August 31). Michigan Department of Evironmental Quality. Retrieved from Michigan DEQ: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3311---,00.html

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