Ecosystems at Risk

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‘Compare the nature and rate of change that affect the functioning of TWO different ecosystems at risk.’ An ecosystem is the dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment as a functional unit. Ecosystems are systems through which incoming solar energy is captured and channelled through a hierarchy of life forms. Each ecosystem has its own characteristic plant and animal community. Nature of change refers to the natural or human induced change towards an ecosystem. Humans play a role in maintaining or disturbing the dynamic equilibrium of any ecosystem. They have the ability to minimise natural resources ecosystems in order to grow food, build habitats, and remove or extract specific resources. They also can remove unwanted species, both plants and animals and other species are provided with a favourable, more suitable environment for their survival by human intervention. Ecosystems are constantly changing and developing in response to stress induced changes. In nature, change usually takes a long time to occur. The biome eventually adapts as animals and plants that have characteristics that aren’t suited to the occurring change eventually die out and those more suited to the change, remain alive and breed and pass their characteristics along to future generations. This is known as natural selection. Unexpected natural disasters have also caused whole species to die out almost instantly due to not having enough time to adapt. The damming of a river, the draining of a wetland or the cleaning of vast tracts of natural vegetation for agriculture are sudden and drastic changes that may result in loss of habitat and devastation of a species. Catastrophic rates of change impact environments and ecosystems instantly and cause disturbances in these ecosystems. Drought, floods, fires, earthquakes and landslide are all examples of catastrophic changes affecting ecosystems. Gradual changes affecting ecosystems affecting...
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