Ecosystem test

A system in which organisms interact with each other and the environment.
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A major habitat category, based on distinct plant assemblages which depend on particular temperature and rainfall patterns.
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the animals of a particular region, habitat or geological period.
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the plants of a particular region, habitat or geological period.
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Aquatic ecosystems can be divided into:
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Aquatic Ecosystems
The aquatic ecosystem is the ecosystem found in a body of water. It encompasses aquatic flora, fauna and water properties, as well. There are two main types of aquatic ecosystem - Marine and Freshwater.
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The Marine Ecosystem
Marine ecosystems are the biggest ecosystems, which cover around 71% of Earth's surface and contain 97% of our planet's water. Water in Marine ecosystems features in high amounts minerals and salts dissolved in them.
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The different divisions of the marine ecosystem are:
Oceanic: A relatively shallow part of oceans which lies on the continental shelf.
Profundal: deep or bottom water.
Benthic Bottom substrates.
Inter-tidal: The place between low and high tides.
Coral reefs
Salt marshes
Hydrothermal vents wh
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Many kinds of organisms live in marine ecosystems:
the brown algae, corals, cephalopods, echinoderms, dinoflagellates and sharks.
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The Freshwater Ecosystem
In contrast to the Marine ecosystems, the freshwater ecosystem covers only 0.8% of Earth's surface and contains 0.009% of the total water.
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Three basic kinds of freshwater ecosystems exist:
Lentic: Slow-moving or still water like pools, lakes or ponds.
Lotic: Fast-moving water such as streams and rivers.
Wetlands: Places in which the soil is inundated or saturated for some lengthy period of time.
The ecosystems are habitats to reptiles, amp
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TERRESTRIAL ecosystems
These can be divided into:

With various subgroups in each main ecosystem e.g. tropical evergreen forest, temperate deciduous forest, taiga.
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The Forest Ecosystems
They are the ecosystems in which an abundance of flora, or plants, is seen so they have a big number of organisms which live in relatively small space. Therefore, in forest ecosystems the density of living organisms is quite high. A small change in this e
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Tropical evergreen forest
These are tropical forests that receive a mean rainfall of 80 for every 400 inches annually. The forests are characterised by dense vegetation which comprises tall trees at different heights. Each level is shelter to different types of animals.
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Tropical deciduous forest
There, shrubs and dense bushes rule along with a broad selection of trees. The type of forest is found in quite a few parts of the world while a large variety of fauna and flora are found there.
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Temperate evergreen forest
Those have quite a few number of trees as mosses and ferns make up for them. Trees have developed spiked leaves in order to minimize transpiration.
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Temperate deciduous forest
The forest is located in the moist temperate places that have sufficient rainfall. Summers and winters are clearly defined and the trees shed the leaves during the winter months.
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Situated just before the arctic regions, the taiga is defined by evergreen conifers. As the temperature is below zero for almost half a year, the remainder of the months, it buzzes with migratory birds and insects.
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The Desert Ecosystem
Desert ecosystems are found in areas with less than 25 inches of yearly rainfall.They occupy over 17% of the total land area of our planet. Fauna and flora are rare and poorly developed due to the harsh heat, limited water supply, and intense sunlight.Shr
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The Desert Ecosystem
The stems and leaves of the plants have been changed to save as much water as possible. Succulents, such as spiny-leaved cactus, are the most well-known desert plants. Insects, birds, camels, and reptiles are among the animal creatures that have adapted t
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The Grassland Ecosystem
Grasslands are located in both the tropical and temperate regions of the world though the ecosystems vary slightly. The area mainly comprises grasses with a little number of trees and shrubs. The main vegetation includes grasses, plants and legumes that b
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The two main kinds of grasslands ecosystems are:
Savanna: The tropical grasslands are dry seasonally and have few individual trees. They support a large number of predators and grazers.

Prairies: It is temperate grassland, completely devoid of large shrubs and trees. Prairies could be categorized as mi
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The Mountain Ecosystem
Mountain land provides a scattered and diverse array of habitats where a large number of animals and plants can be found. At the higher altitudes, the harsh environmental conditions normally prevail, and only the treeless alpine vegetation can survive. Th
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Where are they found?
Climate, topography and soil determine the changing character of plant and animal life, as well as ecosystem functioning. Although no two locations contain exactly the same assemblage of species, we can group communities and ecosystems into categories bas
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Where are they found?
A biome, therefore is a large geographical area of distinctive plant and animal groups; a global-scale ecosystem. Each biome gets its name from the dominant vegetation and climate found there. Each biome consists of many ecosystems whose communities have
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Where are they found?
The major world biomes are based upon the underlying properties of temperature and soil moisture regimes; these are largely determined by latitude, climate, topography and the native vegetation that is adapted to these local conditions.
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The relationship between temperature and precipitation and the distribution of biomes.
Robert Whittaker, an American ecologist, plotted rainfall vs. temperature for points all over the globe on a single graph. He then looked at what biomes had developed at those sites, and was able to group the different biomes according to mean annual temp
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Ecosystem Services
The benefits that people obtain from ecosystems
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Ecosystem Services
An ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit. Humans are an integral part of ecosystems.
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the variation of life forms within a given ecosystem or biome. Biodiversity is often used as a measure of the health of biological systems.
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What are the benefits of ecosystem services?
The benefits that people obtain from ecosystems. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) was commissioned by the UN in 2000. It analysed 24 ecosystem services and found that 15 were being degraded or used unsustainably. The decline in services affects t
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The MEA grouped ecosystem services into four categories:
Provisioning services, such as the supply of food and water
Regulating services, which help to stabilise ecosystem processes such as climate and water storage and purification
Supporting services, including soil formation and nutrient cycling
Cultural ser
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Ecosystems and Human Well-being
Human well-being is an important factor in many aspects of human development, but it can also be affected by changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services. Many people have benefited over the last century from the conversion of natural ecosystems and the
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Anthropogenic Drivers of Change
Biodiversity and ecosystem services experience change due to natural causes. However, there are also 5 indirect anthropogenic drivers of change. These are:
Cultural and religious
Scientific and technological
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originating in human activity
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The U.K. National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) 2011
‘The natural world is vital to our existence, providing us with essentials such as food, water and clean air - but also cultural and health benefits not always fully appreciated because we get them for free.’
Caroline Spelman, environment secretary
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The U.K. National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) 2011
In 2011, a major UK government-sponsored report, the NEA attempted to put a value on the UK’s ecosystems. The conclusion was that the parks, lakes, forests and wildlife are worth billions of pounds to the economy. It concluded that the health benefits of
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The report concluded that:
‘Humans rely on the way ecosystem services control our climate - pollution, water quality, pollination - and we’re finding out that many of these regulating services are degrading.

About 30% of the key ecosystem services that the UK rely on are degrading
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The economic benefits of nature are seen most clearly in food production, which depends on organisms such as soil microbes, earthworms and pollinating insects. If their health declines - as is currently happening in the UK with bees - either farmers produ
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Coral Reefs
An example of where ecosystems provide commodity goods for humanity would be a coral reef. This is an ecosystem in which fish and coral formations, rock and seawater interact together. Some 500 million people worldwide use coral reefs for tourism, fishing
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Components of an ecosystem
ABIOTIC = non-living
BIOTIC = living organisms
EDAPHIC = relating to soil
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Components of an ecosystem
An ecosystem is a community of living and non-living things that work together.

They have no particular size; they can be as large as a rainforest of a lake or as small as a tree or a puddle.
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Components of an ecosystem
The water, water temperature, plants, animals, air, light and soil all work together consuming and emitting energy as they feed, reproduce and die.

Because the flow of energy in an ecosystem is uni-directional (in one direction only), they can be conside
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Abiotic Components
Abiotic factors are all of the non-living things in an ecosystem.

They influence the structure, distribution, behaviour and inter-relationships of all the organisms in that ecosystem.
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Abiotic Components
Abiotic factors vary among different ecosystems.
For example, abiotic factors found in aquatic ecosystems may be things like water depth, pH, sunlight, turbidity (amount of water cloudiness), salinity (salt concentration), available nutrients (nitrogen, p
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Climatic Factors
Precipitation, temperature, sunlight, wind, humidity etc.
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Climatic Factors
Precipitation varies by latitude (high latitude ecosystems will have more snow), continentality (whether the ecosystem is in the middle of a large landmass or on the coast), topographical position (for example, rain shadow if the ecosystem is by a mountai
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Climatic Factors
Some places have year-round precipitation while others have seasonal drought or very little precipitation at all (think about the work you have done on biomes).
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Climatic Factors
Temperature varies by latitude: locations near the equator are warmer then locations near the poles or the temperate zones.
Humidity influences the amount of water and moisture in the air and soil, which, in turn, affects rainfall.
Wind can bring precipit
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Topography and Altitude
Topography is the layout of the land in terms of elevation, gradient and aspect. For example, south-facing slopes in the northern hemisphere will receive more sunlight (energy) than those facing north.
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Topography and Altitude
Altitude is the height above sea level. The characteristic life forms in mountains depend on elevation because of the changes in climate with altitude (the temperature drops by 1oC for every 100m in altitude). Winters can be severe. Mountains force air to
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Topography and Altitude
In the lee of the mountains there is a rain shadow (an area of little rainfall as it is sheltered by the mountain). Wind speed increases with height. Stronger winds cause physical damage; they discourage tree growth above certain elevations (the tree line
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ALTITUDINAL ZONATION in mountain regions
the development of bands of similar ecosystems at similar altitudes.
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in mountainous regions describes the natural layering of ecosystems that occurs at distinct altitudes due to varying environmental conditions. Temperature, humidity, soil composition, and solar radiation are important factors in determining altitudinal zo
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Soils are rich ecosystems in themselves. They are composed of both living and non-living matter. The study of plant-soil interactions is a rapidly growing area in terrestrial ecology. Recent research combining above-ground and below-ground approaches has
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Soils serve several functions:
-medium for plant growth (they provide nutrients)
-regulator of water supplies (they can store water)
-recycler of raw materials (store carbon as material decomposes)
-habitat for soil organisms (e.g. earthworms)
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Biotic Components
The living organisms including plants, animals and micro-organisms (bacteria and fungi) that are present in an ecosystem.
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Biotic Components
Biotic components can be classified into three groups - producers (or autotrophs), consumers (or heterotrophs) and decomposers (or saprotrophs).
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Energy Flows
An ecosystem is an open system (a system is an assemblage of interrelated parts that work together by some way of a driving processes - here it is the transfer of energy - an open system is a system that transfers both matter and energy can cross its boun
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Energy flow and heat loss
All the energy used by living things comes ultimately from the sun. Energy enters living systems as a result of photosynthesis by plants and some bacteria. Often, less than 2% of the incoming sunlight is captured; of this more than half of the energy capt
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Energy flow and heat loss
There are two types of organisms that have direct access to the energy in plant tissues:
-Herbivores feed on the plant while it is alive.
-Saprotrophs feed on the plant after it is dead.
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-(this is not the same as breathing!): A chemical process in which energy is released from food substances, such as glucose (a sugar).
-Aerobic respiration requires oxygen to work.
-Most of the energy is used for MAINTENANCE, the rest goes to BIOMASS (e.g
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Biomass is a term in ECOLOGY for the mass of living organisms in a given ecosystem. The mass of all living species in a given ecosystem (community biomass)
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Biomass can refer to:
-The mass of one species within an ecosystem
-The mass of decaying material. This includes leaf litter and decaying organic material on a forest floor. It can be a substantial component of, for example, a forest ecosystem.
-Biomass can be expressed as the
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Much of the energy in herbivore biomass is taken by:
-Carnivores (and omnivores): these meat eaters survive mainly by eating herbivores.
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In most ecosystems, the majority of the energy goes to the saprotrophs. For example, in an area of grassland only 10% of the energy in plants is taken by grazing animals (such as antelope). Herbivores then use almost all of their energy intake on respirat
That is more properly called ventilation. Instead, respiration is a chemical process in which energy is released from food substances, such as glucose - a sugar
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Aerobic respiration needs oxygen to work. The equation for aerobic respiration is:
glucose + oxygen → carbon dioxide + water (+ energy)) and maintaining their bodies (maintenance); the rest goes to herbivore biomass (the flesh and blood of the animal).
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Nutrient Cycling
Nutrients are the chemical elements and compounds needed for organisms to grow and function. Energy flow and nutrient cycling are interdependent. The rate of nutrient cycling may affect the rate that energy can be trapped. For example, plants cannot make
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Nutrients are stored in three main compartments within an ecosystem:
Soil: A mixture of weathered rock, air, water and decomposed organic matter on the surface of the Earth.
Litter: The amount of dead organic matter on top of soil.
Biomass: The total of plant and animal life in an ecosystem. These nutrients are cycled from
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Nutrients can be transferred between nutrient sinks and may also be cycled via environmental inputs and outputs
-Nutrients can be transferred from biomass to litter (fallout), litter to soil (decay) or soil to biomass (uptake)
-Litter can additionally gain nutrients via precipitation (rainfall) and lose nutrients in surface runoff
-Soil can gain nutrients from the
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Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles
Chemicals are an important part of an ecosystem, as they are needed to produce organic material that is moved around the ecosystem and continually recycled.Examples include both carbon and nitrogen, which are absorbed by plants as gases and salts.The gase
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Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles Cont.
At the basic level in each cycle plants take up chemical nutrients, utilize them and then forward them to herbivores and then carnivores.
As organisms die, they decompose and nutrients are returned to the system.
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How can biodiversity be measured?
SPECIES RICHNESS = describes the number of different species present in an area (more species = greater richness).
SPECIES EVENNESS = describes the relative abundance of the different species in an area (similar abundance = more evenness).
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How can biodiversity be measured?
Biodiversity is a measure that combines richness and evenness across species. It is often measured because high biodiversity is perceived a synonymous with ecosystem health. In general diverse communities are believed to have increased stability, increas
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Ecosystem (habitat) diversity
This is the diversity of habitats or ecosystems within an area. A region possessing a wide variety of habitats is preferable, and will include a much greater diversity of species, than one in which there are few different habitats.
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Ecosystem (habitat) diversity
More specifically a countryside which has ponds, river, woodland, hedgerows, wet meadowland and set-aside grassland will be more species rich and more diverse than countryside with ploughed fields, land drained and without wet areas and devoid of woods an
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Genetic diversity
This is the genetic variability of a species. Genetic diversity can be measured directly by genetic fingerprinting or indirectly by observing differences in the physical features of the organisms within the population (e.g. the different colour and bandin
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Genetic diversity cont.
Lack of genetic diversity would be seen as problematic. It would indicate that the species may not have sufficient adaptability and may not be able to survive an environmental hazard. The Irish potato blight of 1846, which killed a million people and forc
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Indicator Species - useful for conservation & planning
An indicator species is an organism used to assess a specific environmental condition.
Indicators species are sensitive to specific environmental conditions and consequently have a limited range of tolerance.
Their population growth or reduction indicates
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Indicator Species - useful for conservation & planning
Indicator species may be sensitive to a number of different environmental conditions:
Lichen, along with mosses, are susceptible to air-borne pollutants dissolved in water (e.g. sulfur dioxide)
Tubifex worms are sensitive to concentrations of heavy metals
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Indicator Species - useful for conservation & planning
Measuring biodiversity is commonly used to provide evidence for the need for conservation or for planning generally. Often indicator species are used as a way of measuring biodiversity. For example, stoneflies are found in clean, fast-moving streams with
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Biodiversity in the UK
The UK is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is committed to the biodiversity goals and targets (‘the Aichi targets’) agreed in 2010. The UK is also committed to developing and using a set of indicators to report on progress t
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Biodiversity in the UK
DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) produces a UK Biodiversity Indicators report (most recent is for 2019) that aims to measure progress towards halting biodiversity loss. It is worth noting that biodiversity policy is devolved in th
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Global Trends in Biodiversity
The global Living Planet Index (LPI), shows a decline of 58% between 1970 and 2012. This means that the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish across the globe is, on average, less than half the size it was 45 years ago.
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Global Trends in Biodiversity
The Freshwater LPI shows a sharper decline of 81% between 1970-2012.
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Global Trends in Biodiversity
When life as we know it started about 550 million years ago (mya). In that time there have been five episodes of what scientists call mass extinctions (where at least half of all species are wiped out - for example, the end of the dinosaurs about 65 mya).
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Global Trends in Biodiversity
The LPI monitors more than 14,152 populations of over 3,706 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish around the globe. The change in the size of these populations, relative to 1970 (1970 = 1.0) is plotted over time. A stable Living Planet
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Global Trends in Biodiversity
Biodiversity is declining in both grassland and tropical regions, but the decline is greater in the tropics. The tropical LPI showed a 41% decline between 1970 and 2009. Grassland LPI declined by 18% between 1970 and 2012. These areas have come under a hi
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Global Trends in Biodiversity
Biodiversity is declining in both grassland and tropical regions, but the decline is greater in the tropics. The tropical LPI showed a 41% decline between 1970 and 2009. Grassland LPI declined by 18% between 1970 and 2012. These areas have come under a hi
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Global Trends in Biodiversity
Marine species declined 39% between 1970 and 2010. The period from 1970 through to mid-1980s experienced the steepest decline, after which there was some stability, before another recent period of decline. The steepest declines can be seen in the tropics
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Global Trends in Biodiversity - Many species have completely disappeared from areas dominated by human influences.
Even in protected areas, native species are often out-competed or consumed by organisms introduced from elsewhere. Extinction is a natural process, but it is occurring at an unnaturally rapid rate as a consequence of human activities. Already we have caus
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Threats to Biodiversity - DIRECT DRIVERS have an indisputable impact on ecosystem processes.
-Habitat loss and degradation
-Climate change
-Excessive nutrient load and other forms of pollution
-Over-exploitation and unsustainable use
-Invasive alien species
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Threats to Biodiversity - INDIRECT DRIVERS operate by altering the level or rate of change of one or more direct drivers
-Demographic change
-Economic activity
-Levels of international trade
-Per capita consumption patterns, linked to individual wealth
-Cultural and religious factors
-Scientific and technological change
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Indirect drivers primarily act on biodiversity by influencing the quantity of resources used by human societies.
So for example population increase, combined with higher per capita consumption, will tend to increase demand for energy, water and food - each of which will contribute to direct pressures such as habitat conversion, over-exploitation of resources, nutrie
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IPBES - Who???????
Their website says that ‘The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body, established by member States in 2012. The objective of IPBES is to strengthen the science-polic
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IPBES - Who???????
The IPBES are in the process of publishing a global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
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Some ideas on biodiversity conservation
Conservation is the management and protection of life on Earth from loss and harm, in order to safeguard habitats, species and their interconnections for the future. It is about PROTECTION. Conservation can focus on species protection (mainly ex-situ i.e.
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Some ideas on biodiversity conservation
Conservation can be achieved through policy and international law e.g. CITES and the IUCN’s Red list which gives guidance on which species needs protection through research and data. A combination of both approaches can lead to REINTRODUCTION of endangere
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Ex-Situ Biodiversity Conservation Methods (Species Protection)
Chester Zoo, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Conservation itself is made up of many actions, from sustainable development and resource use, through to intense protection for specific habitats and species.

There are two main ty
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In-Situ Conservation Methods (Habitat & Species Protection)
Complete protection of ecosystems is rarely necessary or advisable in a terrestrial context. Species have evolved alongside the influence of human cultures and in many cases require the disturbance provided by humans to provide the necessary conditions fo
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In-Situ Conservation Methods (Habitat & Species Protection)
In many cases the livelihood of local people depend on the natural resources available to them (particularly in LICs). Prohibiting the use of resources = expensive enforcement measures. Better to involve people in conservation and find ways for them to ma
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Wildlife or Conservation Corridors
The main goal of corridors is to facilitate movement of individuals, through both dispersal and migration, so that gene flow and diversity are maintained between local populations. By linking populations throughout the landscape, there is a lower chance f
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Wildlife or Conservation Corridors
Corridors work by increasing connectivity between patches that are isolated by human habitat fragmentation, caused primarily by urbanisation, agriculture, and forestry. Plants and animals can use corridors for both dispersal and migration, two key movemen
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Wildlife or Conservation Corridors
The human-dominated habitats surrounding more natural areas present barriers that plants and animals are unable or highly reluctant to move through. These inhospitable places may have higher abundances of predators, lower resource availability, or reduced
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Wildlife or Conservation Corridors
When a corridor is present, however, it provides an unbroken path of suitable habitat that can provide safe passage for animals or plants without being hindered as they travel through agricultural or urban landscapes. This connectivity is key to populatio
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Wildlife or Conservation Corridors - Marine corridors also exist, such as the Verde Island Passage Marine Corridor
From just over a thousand hectares of marine protected areas (MPA) in 2008, MPAs in the Verde Island Passage now encompasses more than 17,000 hectares of critical habitats, including at least 3,000 hectares of no-take zones, more than 14,000 hectares of f
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Wildlife or Conservation Corridors
MPA site selection and establishment were guided by results of biological and social research and represent the areas that have the most potential for delivering conservation benefits.
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Wildlife or Conservation Corridors
Local communities are beginning to feel the positive effects of marine conservation, and ecosystems are showing signs of recovery.
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Wildlife or Conservation Corridors
In certain areas of the VIP, communities have been observing instances of increasing fish catch, improved reef fish abundance, species recovery, enhanced ecotourism income and other benefits that prove the value of marine biodiversity conservation.
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Surtsey Island, Iceland
-Born 1963-1967
-Protected since its birth, the island has developed completely free from human interference
-The only human activity allowed is scientific study
-It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List
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Conservation Issues - what to conserve?
Conservation International (CI) has been protecting nature for the benefit of all. They do this through science, policy, and partnerships with countries, communities and companies. Over the years, CI has helped support 1,200 protected areas and interventi
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The IUCN Red List
Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species.
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The IUCN Red List
It is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity.It provides information about range, population size, habitat and ecology, use and/or trade, threats, and conservation actions that will help inform necessary conservation decisions.
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The IUCN Red List
The IUCN Red List is used by government agencies, wildlife departments, conservation-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs), natural resource planners, educational organizations, students, and the business community.
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The IUCN Red List
The IUCN Red List is produced by the Red List Partnership: BirdLife International; Botanic Gardens Conservation International; Conservation International; International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); NatureServe; Microsoft; Royal Botanic Gardens
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The IUCN Red List
To date, many species groups including mammals, amphibians, birds, reef building corals and conifers have been comprehensively assessed. As well as assessing newly recognized species, the IUCN Red List also re-assesses the status of some existing species,
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The IUCN Red List
For example, good news such as the downlisting (i.e. improvement) of a number of species on the IUCN Red List categories scale, due to conservation efforts. The bad news, however, is that biodiversity is declining.
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The IUCN Red List
Currently there are more than 79,800 species on The IUCN Red List, and more than 23,000 are threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 34% of conifers, 33% of reef building corals, 25% of mammals and 13% of birds.
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The IUCN Red List
Despite these figures, we are working to reverse, or at least halt, the decline in biodiversity. Increased assessments will help to build The IUCN Red List into a more complete ‘Barometer of Life’.
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The IUCN Red List
To do this we need to increase the number of species assessed to at least 160,000 by 2020. This will improve the global taxonomic coverage and thus provide a stronger base to enable better conservation and policy decisions.
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International funding e.g. the UN is funded by its member countries, this money then gets divided up, some of which goes to UNESCO who fund conservation projects.
IUCN gets funding from many Governments as well as NGOs and corporate sponsors. They then pr
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NGOs such as the Global Conservation Fund.

Governments e.g. National Parks are funded from central government - Snowdonia got £4.5 million 2013-14.

Zoos, reserves, National Parks - fund raising, entrance fees, education etc.
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Conservation International has played a key role in creating 17 endowments for protected areas. Endowments support more than 50 million hectares (124 million acres) of critical ecosystems. Since 2001, the GCF has supported the protection of 81 million hec
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Funding - GCF
Made possible by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the GCF has catalyzed more than US$ 200 million for conservation and has developed significant partnerships with corporations and other donors. After 15 years as a leader in conservation
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the series of community changes which occurs on an entirely new habitat which has never been colonised before. For example, Surtsey Island, Iceland or on a smaller scale a recent lava flow.
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the series of community changes which takes place on a previously colonised but disturbed or damaged habitat. For example, after felling trees in a woodland, land clearance or fire or on land where farming has stopped.
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A succession that starts on newly exposed bare rocky surface, e.g. newly erupted volcanic lava or rock exposed as an ice sheet retreats.
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A succession that starts on bare sand, e.g. coastal sand dunes.
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A succession that starts in fresh water, e.g. a pond.
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A succession that starts in salt water conditions, e.g. a salt marsh
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So what is succession all about?????
Succession is the term used to signify the changes in the composition of a community of plants and animals over time. These changes result in an increase in the complexity of the structure and species composition (species diversity) of such a community. P
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Primary succession or prisere develops by the gradual colonisation of a lifeless abiotic surface; the entire sequence of stages is called a sere and the stages are referred to as seral stages. As succession occurs each new stage:
-Is structurally more complex that the one it replaces
-Contains more biomass
-Has more species
-Has greater NPP
-Has greater flows of nutrients and energy.

The species living in a particular place gradually change over time but so does the physical and
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Seral Stages
Bare surface = this is initially colonised by bacteria and single-celled photosynthesisers that are able to survive on few nutrients and get most of their energy from the sun.
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Stage 1 = PIONEERS.
The first plant species to colonise an area are called pioneers. These are adapted to be able to survive in the harshest conditions. As they die they add dead organic matter to the surface, which leads to the creation of simple soil, this in turn improves
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As the soil develops further other plants grow and invertebrates live in the soil. All of this increases the organic content which enables the soil to hold more water.
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Larger plants begin to grow. They use up a lot of available water and shade the ground. Some of the earlier colonisers are unable to compete and die out. Herbivores become established and predators begin to move in.
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Fewer new species colonise. Complex food webs develop. Top predators and larger, fast-growing trees are found at this stage.
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This is the final seral stage. It represents the maximum possible development that a community can reach under the prevailing climatic (temperature, light and rainfall) conditions. This is called a CLIMATIC CLIMAX community.
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A convenient concept to describe the end product of succession is the idea of a climatic climax community. This is the final stage in succession. It is an association of plants and animals which has obtained a state of equilibrium within a given area.
Many ecologist believe however that the time required to achieve this state is unrealistically long.
In most cases, external disturbances and environmental change occur so frequently that the realisation of a climax community is unlikely and therefore it
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Hydrosere - Pond Succession
Hydrosere is the primary succession sequence which develops in aquatic environments such as lakes and ponds. It represents a conversion of water body and its community into a land community. Over time, an area of open freshwater will naturally dry out. Ul
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Hydroseral Stages
The overall changes taking place during hydrosere succession are:
-Shallowing of water
-Addition of humus and minerals
-Soil building and aeration of soil.

As the water body fills in with sediment, the area of open water decreases and the vegetation typ
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Sub-Climax Communities (due to natural causes)
At any point in the development of an ecosystem, succession can be halted by an arresting factor. This can occur suddenly or gradually and can have a permanent of temporary effect. The result is a sub-climax community where the climatic climax has not bee
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A change in topography. This could be a landslide, a volcanic eruption (lava or ash) or deposition of mud following a river flood.
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A change in drainage. This could be caused by a raised water table following increased precipitation.
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Biotic climax
The introduction of an alien species to an area. For example, rabbits are the most significant known factor in species loss in Australia.
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Edaphic climax
A change in the structure or composition of soil. For example, leaching of calcium from the soil can cause it to become more acidic.
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Plagioclimax Communities
Plagioclimax communities are determined by planned or unplanned human activity. The process of succession has either been halted before reaching climatic climax or it has been deflected to a different climax. This could be caused by:
-Cutting down existin
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Plagioclimax Communities
The plagioclimax will remain as long as the human activity continues. If this activity stops then the succession will revert to its original path unless there has been a permanent change to other environmental conditions.
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Secondary Succession
Secondary succession is the series of community changes which takes place on a previously colonised but disturbed or damaged habitat.
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Secondary succession is usually much quicker than primary succession for the following reasons:
There is already an existing seed bank of suitable plants in the soil.
Root systems undisturbed in the soil, stumps and other plant parts from previously existing plants can rapidly regenerate.
The fertility and structure of the soil has also already been
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Examples of secondary succession include:
The renewal of a forest after a fire: The fire itself destroys a majority of different types of trees and plant life. Because seeds and roots and other plant and tree parts remain in and on the soil, gradually the plants and trees begin to grow again and
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Examples of secondary succession include:
A forest renews after logging: A large amount of trees were chopped down by loggers in order to create building materials. Over time, trees grow in and the area returns to its previous state.
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Examples of secondary succession include:
A volcanic eruption: In an area where a volcano erupts, lava may cause some damage to the plant and tree life. Over a span of years, however, if there was land that had been affected by the eruption but not necessarily covered in new volcanic rock, the se
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The Arctic Tundra Biome/Sustainable use of the Arctic Tundra Biome
Tundra is the youngest biome on Earth, dating back 10,000 years.
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Characteristics of the Arctic Tundra Biome - Location
Tundra covers 20% of the earth, most of which is in the northern hemisphere from Greenland and coastal zones of the Arctic to parts of Alaska, northern Canada, and northern Russia, it extends northwards from the coniferous forests of the taiga. These area
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Characteristics of the Arctic Tundra Biome - Climate
The tundra is the coldest of all the biomes. Summers may have lengthy periods of continuous daylight but, with the angle of the sun so low in the sky, temperatures struggle to rise above freezing-point. Growing season is exceptionally short. Nearer the po
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Characteristics of the Arctic Tundra Biome - Climate
Although winters are long, dark and severe, and the sea freezes, on the coast e.g. Barrow, Alaska, the water has a moderating effect on temperatures keeping them slightly higher than inland places further south e.g. Siberia. Precipitation, which falls as
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Characteristics of the Arctic Tundra Biome - Climate
The growing season ranges from 50 to 60 days. The average winter temperature is -34° C, but the average summer temperature is 3-12° C which enables this biome to sustain life. Rainfall may vary in different regions of the arctic. Yearly precipitation, in
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Characteristics of the Arctic Tundra Biome - Climate
The tundra is also very windy - wind speeds can reach 30-60 mph.
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Characteristics of the Arctic Tundra Biome - Climate
Another characteristic of the Arctic tundra is the limited amount of sunlight it receives due to the position of the Sun in the sky. Depending on the latitude, the Sun can remain below the horizon for up to 2 months, leaving the Arctic tundra in darkness.
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Why is it so cold and dry in the Arctic tundra?
Tundra is located far from the equator and therefore the sunlight is less intense.
The tundra is dry because cold air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air - it is literally too cold for precipitation to fall.
Cold, dense air drops and creates high pre
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Why is it so cold and dry in the Arctic tundra?
The tundra’s location at the poles is important because in these locations far from the equator, the sunlight is less intense and causes the temperatures to plummet.
Less sun means less heat and shorter summer seasons. In fact, during the winter, the sun
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Why is it so cold and dry in the Arctic tundra?
Days get shorter and shorter as winter wears on until our planet revolves further along its circular path around the sun. Summer in the tundra begins when the Earth is angled so the Sun’s rays reach closer to the poles.
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Why is it so cold and dry in the Arctic tundra?
In cold air, the molecules are more closely packed together than in warm air, so cold air is more dense than warm air. This causes it to sink.
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Why is it so cold and dry in the Arctic tundra?
Air pressure is also important in creating wind. Wind moves from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. Wind often moves from areas where it's colder to areas where it's warmer.
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Why is it so cold and dry in the Arctic tundra?
The greater the difference between the high and low pressure or the shorter the distance between the high and low pressure areas, the faster the wind will blow.
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Why is it so cold and dry in the Arctic tundra?
Wind also blows faster if there's nothing in its way, so winds are usually stronger over oceans or flat ground. Because of the lack of gust-buffering forests, Arctic tundra is a commonly windswept landscape.
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Why is it so cold and dry in the Arctic tundra?
Air chilled by traveling over mostly snowbound highlands and mountain masses in the subarctic and polar latitudes is tugged by gravity down into adjoining tundra lowlands in the form of katabatic winds.These can be quite powerful, as can prevailing winds
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Plants of the Arctic Tundra
Denali National Park, Alaska
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Plants of the Arctic Tundra
The tundra ecosystem is one with very low organic productivity. The NPP of only 140 g/m2/yr is the second-lowest of the major land biomes (only desert is lower). There are fewer species of plants in the tundra than in any other biome (80,000 in tropical r
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Plants of the Arctic Tundra
The five main dominants are lichens, mosses, grasses, cushion plants and low shrubs. Most of these have small leaves to limit transpiration (transpiration is the process by which moisture is carried through plants from roots to small pores on the undersid
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Plants of the Arctic Tundra
Any ground remaining at or below 0 C for two or more years is permafrost, it can be from less than one metre to up to 1,000 metres thick). The growing season is short, only 50-60 days a year.
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Arctic Tundra in the Winter
In Finnish, tundra means ‘a barren or treeless land’, which accurately describes its winter appearance. All plants in the Arctic tundra are very slow-and low-growing, compact and rounded to gain protection against the wind (plants as well as humans are af
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Arctic Tundra in Summer
- In Russian, tundra means ‘marshy plain’, which it is in summer.
Any vegetation must have a high degree of tolerance of extreme cold and of moisture-deficient conditions - the latter because water is unavailable for most of the year when it is stored as ice or snow. Much of the Arctic tundra is waterlogged in summer du
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-Ground that is seasonally frozen in winter and thaws in summer.
-Permanently frozen soil, sediment or rock. The ground must remain at or below 0oC for at least two years in order to be considered permafrost.
-Unfrozen ground that lies below the permafros
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Permafrost - (The active layer is ground that is seasonally frozen, typically lying above the perennially frozen permafrost layer. Talik is unfrozen ground that lies below the permafrost and between the active layer and permafrost.)
Permafrost is permanently frozen soil, sediment, or rock. Its classification is solely based on temperature, not moisture or ground cover. The ground must remain at or below 0°C for at least two years in order to be considered permafrost. Although new per
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Herbivores, Carnivores and Birds
A reindeer/caribou, arctic fox and ptarmigan.

The Arctic tundra has a longer food chain than might be expected. Herbivores such as reindeer and musk-ox survive because plants like reindeer moss have a high sugar content. However, these animals have to mi
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Impacts of Climate Change on the Arctic Tundra Biome
-Short summers and cold winters = tundra too cold for trees to grow tall.
- Landscape dominated by grasses, flowering plants and low shrubs.
-In winter, the tundra has a high ALBEDO, reflecting 90% of incoming radiation back out to space
-Average surface-
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It is the Arctic’s permafrost that is the foundation for much of the region’s unique ecosystem, and it is the permafrost that is deteriorating with the warmer global climate.
-In the tundra the cycle is one of the active soil layer freezing in the autumn and melting in the spring.
-With climate change, the autumn freeze comes later and the spring thaw earlier.
-More of the permafrost is melting and shrubs and spruce (conifers)
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Average global surface-air temperatures has risen by approx. 0.9oC since 1900, in the Arctic this is approx 3.5 oC over the same period.
Many parts of the region have experienced several consecutive years of record-breaking winter warmth since the late 20th Century. E.g. Norway’s Svalbard archipelago in 2016 the three-month winter mean temperatures were 8-11oC higher than the 1961-90 avera
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Impacts of Climate Change on the Arctic Tundra Biome
Due to recent warming, shrubs in some parts of the Arctic tundra are getting taller and more dense. Taller shrubs means that snow does not lay in a smooth blanket, losing the insulating effect in winter and reducing the albedo (the amount of sunlight/heat
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Impacts of Climate Change on the Arctic Tundra Biome
Fresh snow reflects 90% of incoming radiation back out to space rather than absorbing it and warming the surface beneath. Snow on ice has a much higher albedo than a dark surface such as woody, green trees. So as these grow and absorb more warmth it suppo
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Impacts of Climate Change on the Arctic Tundra Biome - Arctic tundra is a CARBON SINK it captures huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere as part of photosynthesis, storing it underground as undecayed organic matter frozen in the permafrost.
About ⅓ of the world’s soil-bound carbon is in tundra permafrost. As this frozen soil thaws, its organic contents begin to decay, releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). As this happens the tundra changes from a carbon sink and becomes a CARBON
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Impacts of Climate Change on the Arctic Tundra Biome - Another consequence of climate change is the rapid melting of sea ice. Some climate models predict that sometime during the first half of the 21st Century, summer sea ice will vanish from the Arctic
Absence of summer sea ice would amplify the existing warming trend in Arctic tundra regions as well as regions beyond the tundra, because sea ice has a higher albedo than open ocean, so with less ice more warmth is absorbed by the ocean rather than heat b
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Impacts of Climate Change on the Arctic Tundra Biome - Another consequence of climate change is the rapid melting of sea ice. Some climate models predict that sometime during the first half of the 21st Century, summer sea ice will vanish from the Arctic
Other impacts of retreating sea ice = improved access to high northern latitudes for recreational and industrial activities leading to additional stress on tundra plants and animals and compromised resilience of the tundra ecosystem.
Caribou, Polar Bears
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Impacts of Climate Change on the Arctic Tundra Biome
Increase in tundra fires due to:
-Drying of vegetation as temperatures rise
-Increased amount of vegetation
-Increased number of thunderstorms

NB - Tundra fires release CO2 into the atmosphere.
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Impacts of Climate Change on the Arctic Tundra Biome - Other impacts of climate change on the Arctic tundra biome:
Animals that are typically found further south, like the red fox, are moving onto the tundra. The red fox is now competing with the Arctic fox for food and territory.

Warmer weather could also result in the drying of the tundra ponds and changes in speci
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Impacts of Climate Change on the Arctic Tundra Biome - Other impacts of climate change on the Arctic tundra biome: NB - greater plant productivity resulting from a longer, warmer growing season could compensate for some of the carbon emissions from permaf
Many tundra species dig through the snow to get to food during the winter, a possible increase in snow thickness due to warmer temperatures could bring famine to caribou populations.

Thinner snow covers could be detrimental to other tundra species, since
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A major habitat category, based on distinct plant assemblages which depend on particular temperature and rainfall patterns.

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Aquatic ecosystems can be divided into:


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