Ecosystem Literature Review

1872 words - 7 pages

Ecosystem Literature Review

The aquatic ecosystems are home to some of the most diverse life forms on the planet. From plankton and plants to fish and even to large mammals, the aquatic ecosystem provides shelter to such a diverse range of life that few other ecosystems can ever compare to this large scope. In the aquatic ecosystem, there are many factors that allow for biotic life to flourish. Some of these factors include biodiversity, energy flow, and nutrient cycling. Not only do these factors allow for the prosperity of the aquatic ecosystem function, but also allow for the proper function of the other factors.
Ecosystem function can be seen as the "collective metabolic activities of organisms within a habitat consume energy and move matter between organic and inorganic pools". Biodiversity helps ecosystem maintain these actives in a stable manner. (Shahid 2002). Biodiversity, which is both genetic and ecological diversity in an ecosystem, allows for an ecosystem to react and survive under changing conditions (Hooper/ et all 2005). Biodiversity's role in the aquatic ecosystem can be described as the "security blanket" because biodiversity helps promote the resilience of an ecosystem, which comes into place through the interactions between biota and their environment (Cropp and Gabric 2002). As biodiversity increases, the ability of an ecosystem to overcome not only physical challenges, but also its ability to combat invasive species also increases. This ability to combat "local invasions" occurs because the native species use the limited resources that are present in an area. So, if an invasive species tries to colonize an area with high biodiversity, it will have a lot of trouble due to the limited amount of "free" resources available. This is a result of the local biota's ability to "provide more consistent utilization of space". But with a lack of biodiversity in an ecosystem, a foreign species will have an easier time of integrating into the ecosystem, therefore changing the chemical and biological properties of it . These alterations in ecosystems can make it more challenging for the native species to live and survive. This could potentially ruin the health and stability of an ecosystem (Stachowicz/ et all 2002). Furthermore, if biodiversity is sustained in an ecosystem, plant function within an ecosystem also increases. As plant function, also known as primary productivity, increases, many other important ecosystem-level processes (including nutrient cycling and energy flow) also increase. (Srivastava and Vellend 2005). Thus, biodiversity affects the health of an ecosystem, and points to the importance of energy flow within an ecosystem.
Energy flow, "the transfer of energy from one part of the ecosystem to another" is the battery that fuels all biotic species within an ecosystem. Like batteries, energy is depleted over time, so it must be "recharged". This source of energy comes from the sun, which is considered the...

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