Environmental Science and Biomes
I visited three types of ecosystems. The first was a coastal salt marsh. Microalgae, phytoplankton, and Spartina (cordgrass) were the primary producers in this system. Snails, periwinkle, and shrimp were some of the detritivores. Bacteria and fungi seemed to be the decomposers. Consumers included fish, small crab, and terrapin.
The second ecosystem that I visited was a small farm pond. Various species of water plants and algae were the primary producers. Decomposers included bacteria and worms. Consumers included fish, frogs, and water insects.
The third ecosystem I visited was a grassland. The primary producer was, obviously, grass. Main detritivores seemed to be worms and fungi. Some of the main consumers were birds, deer, and rodents.
a) If carbon nutrient cycle were to be disrupted by, for instance, the sudden inability of plants to undergo photosynthesis, the consequences to us would be sudden and lethal. The decay of organic matter, the burning of fossil fuels, and of course our own respiration would continue to produce CO2, but without the plants using CO2 as part of the photosynthesis process, carbon levels in the atmosphere would quickly skyrocket and become toxic.
b) The nitrogen nutrient cycle is being disrupted by agricultural practices at this very moment, and the consequences could affect us on a global level. Current fertilizing practices are increasing the amount of fixed nitrogen in the atmosphere, but the organisms that can balance this through denitrification remain limited. The resulting excess of fixed nitrogen diminishes stratospheric ozone, contaminates water, and creates acid rain.
c) If, for some reason, phosphate were no longer able to be dissolved in water and thus digested by plants and (through the plants) by animals, our bodies themselves would cease to be able to function. Cell membranes, RNA, and even our DNA have phosphate as one of their primary components, and its absence would be crippling not only to ourselves but to all organic matter.
d) If the water cycle were to be interrupted because, for instance, the weather became so hot as to allow for evaporation but not condensation or precipitation, we would have a limited time for survival. As water levels depleted, plant life would disappear first followed very quickly by animal life, including our own.
Bulverde is located in the South Texas Brush Country. Though it is still a very biodiverse region, development in the past 50 years has disrupted the habitats of many of its species. The ocelot, for instance, used to be plentiful in this region, but is now endangered because of the destruction of its native habitat from urban development.
Because of human habitation, the naturally occurring wildfires which used to keep the brushlands in balance have been prevented. In addition the introduction of non-native species of grain for agriculture has permanently altered and in some cases eliminated the habitats of native plant species.
The teenager’s lifestyle, while not often directly influencing the biome, can often indirectly influence it. For instance, by meat from companies that plant non-native species and do not use fires as part of their land management would be a way that a teenager would indirectly contribute to the dissolution of the biome. Even simple acts like littering or being careless with chemicals and other toxic materials could have a large impact on the survival of the brushlands. On a positive note, teenagers can do much to spread the word about the need to conserve the unique biome and to save the species that are currently threatened by the region’s overdevelopment.