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Rainforest Ecosystem

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1. Ecosystems and How They Work - Sustainable Development
In this assignment, you will investigate the biotic and abiotic structure and function of an ecosystem.
Choose one of the following ecosystems: * Tropical rainforest * Grassland * Coral Reef * Estuary * Desert
You will write a two to three page APA-style research paper about your choice of ecosystem including: * Where might this type of ecosystem be located? Give one specific example. * Describe the structure of the ecosystem: List both the abiotic components and biotic components * Describe the function of the ecosystem: How do the abiotic and biotic components interact in biogeochemical cycles? Describe both the carbon and nitrogen cycles * Describe disturbance and recovery: Describe one natural and one human caused disturbance to the ecosystem. Explain the damage to the ecosystem, including how the abiotic and biotic characteristics of the ecosystem changed. * Explain how ecosystems recover naturally ...
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Ecosystem
Definition
noun, plural: ecosystems
A system that includes all living organisms (biotic factors) in an area as well as its physical environment (abiotic factors) functioning together as a unit.

Supplement
An ecosystem is made up of plants, animals, microorganisms, soil, rocks, minerals, water sources and the local atmosphere interacting with one another.

Word origin: coined in 1930 by Roy Clapham, to denote the physical and biological components of an environment considered in relation to each other as a unit.
Related phrases: ecosystem model, ecosystem ecology, ecosystem diversity.
See also: biotic factor, abiotic factor, ecology.

Please contribute to this project, if you have more noun, plural: biotic factors
A factor created by a living thing or any living component within an environment in which the action of the organism affects the life of another organism, for example a predator consuming its prey.

Supplement
Biotic factors are factors resulting from the activities of a living thing or any living component in an environment, such as the actions of an organism affecting the life of anothers organism.
For instance, in a quail’s environment, the biotic factors are the living elements of the environment such as the quail’s prey like insects, seeds, etc. and the quail’s predators like coyotes

Word origin: biotic: Gk biōtikós of, pertaining to life; factor: late ME facto(u)r < L factor maker, perpetrator.
Compare:abiotic factor.

Definition noun, plural: abiotic factors
A non-living chemical or physical factor in the environment, such as soil, pH, forest fire, etc.

Supplement
Abiotic factors may be grouped into the following main categories: * climatic factors - include sunlight, humidity, temperature, atmosphere, etc. * edaphic factors - include the nature and type of the soil, geology of the land, etc. * social factors - include land use, water resources, etc.
Abiotic factors are further investigated in the freshwater ecology tutorial.

Word origin: a- meaning “not,” “without” + biotic: Gk biōtikós of, pertaining to life; factor: late ME facto(u)r < L factor maker, perpetrator.
Compare: biotic factor.

Please contribute to this project, if you have more information about this term feel free to edit this page

Tropical rain forest ecosystemsMembers of the Biosphere group have been working on two related issues in tropical forests, with particular interest in the Amazonian rain forest. Firstly, how much carbon dioxide is absorbed by tropical forest, and secondly, how is this likely to change as the climate alters in the coming decades?Researchers from Edinburgh made the first measurements of carbon dioxide exchange in tropical forests, using eddy covariance technology, also developed within our group. There are now several sites across Amazonia, measuring carbon dioxide and water exchange as part of the LBA (Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia). These sites suggest that the Amazon basin is a large sink of carbon dioxide, although the magnitude of the estimated sink is still a matter of debate. Climate models produced by the Hadley Centre (at the met office) suggest that the Amazon region will experience drier climates in the next 50 - 100 years as El Nino events become more common. In 2001, we established an artificial droughting experiment at Caxiuana, in Eastern Amazonia, the region most at risk from this climatic shift. Plastic panels intercept the water 2 m above the ground, and channel it away from the plot. A network of soil water sensors, tree water use sensors and an array of other ecophysiological measurements allow us to observe the effects of drought on the forest, and test our ideas about how rain forest ecosystems react to drought, using mechanistic models of tree water transport and gas exchange. More recently, we have started a new project looking at how drought stress affects the fate of carbon in the forest ecosystem. We also have links with the RAINFOR project, a network of long-term observations of forest growth, which are being used to observe the patterns of growth of tropical forest, and to test if forests are growing more in response to atmosphreic carbon dioxide fertilisation. Reserchers linked to our group have recently begun a new NERC project comparing the growth rates of forests in Brasil and Peru, to determine why Peruvian forests grow at a much faster rate than Eastern Amazonian forests. People Involved. Patrick Meir, Mat Williams, Dan Metcalfe, John Grace, David Galbraith. Collaborating Institutes Universidade Federal do Para and Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem, Para, Brasil. University of Oxford and University of Leeds, UK. Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Lisbon, Portugal. University of Goettingen, Germany. Links
Climate Kaleidoscope An educational web site about our work in the rain forest.
Back to carbon and water fluxes | © School of GeoSciences |

Function of Ecosystem
By definition, ecosystems use energy and cycle matter, and these processes also define the basic ecosystem functions. Energetic processes in ecosystems are usually described in terms of trophic levels, which define the role of organisms based on their level of feeding relative to the original energy captured by primary producers. As always, energy does not cycle, so ecosystems require a continuous flow of high-quality energy to maintain their structure and function. For this reason, all ecosystems are "open systems" requiring a net flow of energy to persist over time—without the sun, the biosphere would soon run out of energy
Citation
Ellis, Erle (Lead Author); J. Emmett Duffy (Topic Editor). 2008. "Ecosystem." In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). [First published in the Encyclopedia of Earth July 7, 2008; Last revised October 7, 2008; Retrieved May 12, 2009]. http://www.eoearth.org/article/Ecosystem Biogeochemical cycles and nitrogen cycles

Energy input to ecosystems drives the flow of matter between organisms and the environment in a process known as biogeochemical cycling. The biosphere provides a good example of this, as it interacts with and exchanges matter with the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere, driving the global biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and other elements. Ecosystem processes are dynamic, undergoing strong seasonal cycles in response to changes in solar irradiation, causing fluctuations in primary productivity and varying the influx of energy from photosynthesis and the fixation of carbon dioxide into organic materials over the year, driving remarkable annual variability in the carbon cycle—the largest of the global biogeochemical cycles. Fixed organic carbon in plants then becomes food for consumers and decomposers, who degrade the carbon to forms with lower energy, and ultimately releasing the carbon fixed by photosynthesis back into carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, producing the global carbon cycle. The biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen also uses energy, as bacteria fix nitrogen gas from the atmosphere into reactive forms useful for living organisms using energy obtained from organic materials and ultimately from plants and the sun. Ecosystems also cycle phosphorus, sulfur and other elements. As biogeochemical cycles are defined by the exchange of matter between organisms and their environment, they are classic examples of ecosystem-level proceses.
Ecosystem Research Disturbance
4 1

When a wildfire sweeps through a stretch of forest, our first instinct is to put the blaze out. Fires are scary, destructive and dangerous, especially when a fire gets too close to people’s homes.
However, fire is also a natural part of ecosystems. Forests and grasslands have actually evolved to deal with an occasional fire in a historic cycle of growth, dieback and growth. Fire is one of the many natural disturbances that effect ecosystems every year.

What is a Natural Disturbance?
A disturbance is any event that causes a disruption to the current state of an ecosystem. Disturbances can be localized – only impacting a small patch of land – or they can affect an entire forest or wetland. The results of a disturbance can be short-lived or long-term. Sometimes it takes a few months for an ecosystem to bounce back and other times it can take decades.
Natural disturbances are caused by forces of nature, including weather, geology and biological fluctuations.

Types of Natural Disturbances * Fire * Flood * Wind * Disease * Severe Storms * Insect Swarms * Volcanic Activity * Drought * Long term Freezing * Earthquake

What Happens to an Ecosystem After a Natural Disturbance?
After a fire or a flood impacts an ecosystem, there can be devastation. Plants die, animals are displaced from their former homes and tracts of land may have no wildlife at all. But these situations are temporary. If you had a time-lapse camera to watch the long-term aftermath of a disturbance, you would see a lot of positives come from a seemingly negative event.
Healthy ecosystems have an amazing ability to bounce back from a disturbance. Sometimes the ecosystem will go back to its former structure, with the same plant and animal species. Other times, the disturbance will create something new by allowing new species to move in. Only time will determine the effects of each disturbance. It could take days or decades, but eventually, the ecosystem will recover.
For example, imagine a new disease spreading among a particular mouse species. The disease could greatly reduce the mouse population or even cause it to go extinct in that area. The consequences of this disturbance are felt throughout the ecosystem, because all the predators and prey of the mouse must adapt to the new conditions. The hawk and snake predators must find new sources of food, while the grasses the mice fed on will spread to new areas. Even if the mouse population never rebounds, the ecosystem will eventually adjust to the new conditions.

Natural Disturbances are Healthy for Ecosystems
Natural disturbances are not a new thing. They have been around since the beginning of time, shaping ecosystems and species. Disturbances are bound to happen, and ecosystems are adapted to an occasional disturbance.
Some ecosystems depend on disturbances. The threatened longleaf pine ecosystems of the Southeast depend on fire to control the growth of understory plants. Without fire, young longleaf seedlings are outcompeted by other plants and have difficulty reaching maturity. Similarly, silver maple trees can spread and grow after a flood, because they are flood-tolerant. When other trees die, silver maple can grow.

Human Disturbance
Not all disturbances are natural. Human actions have contributed to a lot of the disturbances we see in ecosystems today. While natural disturbances happen on occasion, human disturbances are putting constant pressure on ecosystems and dramatically impacting species.
Human disturbances, including clear-cutting, habitat fragmentation, and pollution, are continuously affecting ecosystems. The moment the ecosystem begins adjusting to one stress, another appears. Many ecosystems that we depend on are not given enough time to adapt to the new conditions. The natural cycle of disturbances – growth, dieback and growth – cannot properly function, because too many disturbances are putting pressure on the ecosystem at once.
National Wildlife Magazine Articles:
Natural Acts

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