Geography - Ecosystems

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  • Geography - Ecosystems
    • Biomes
      • Ecosystems can be small-scale, covering a small area (such as a pond) or large-scale covering a large area (such as a tropical rainforest).The world is divided up into ten major ecosystems. These large-scale ecosystems are called biomes.
        • An Ecosystem is a community of animals, plants and microorganisms, together with the habitat where they live.
        • A biome is a large-scale ecosystem.
      • Rainforests
        • found near the equator in Central and South America, parts of Africa and Asia. They are hot and humid and contain a huge variety of plants and animals - around half of all the world's species. The trees are mostly hardwood. The climate is called equatorial.
      • Diciduous Forests
        • contain trees that lose their leaves and are found across Europe and USA. The weather is mild and wet. The climate is called temperate maritime.
      • Coniferous Forests
        • containing evergreen trees, are found in Scandinavia, Russia and Canada. They have a cool climate with moderate rainfall called cool temperate.
      • Desert
        • is the driest and hottest of areas. The world's largest desert is the Sahara in North Africa. Areas of scrub land that border the desert are called desert scrub.
          • Desert Scrub
      • Desert Scrub
      • Grassland
        • grasslands are dominated by grass and trees and large bushes are scarce. They have a temperate continental climate - the weather is mild with moderate rainfall. Grasslands include the Puszta in Hungary, the Veldt in South Africa, the Pampas in Argentina and the Prairies in the USA.
      • Savvanah
        • tropical grasslands are hot and dry, dominated by grass, scruband occasional trees. They have two distinct seasons - a dry season when much of the vegetation dies back, and a rainy season when it grows rapidly. They are found in central Africa (Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania), northern Australia and central South America (Venezuela and Brazil).
      • Tundra
        • surrounds the North and South poles. They have an extremely cold climate, with limited numbers of plants and animals able to survive there.
      • Mountains
        • areas can be very cold at night and during winter. The growing season is short and at higher levels trees will not grow.
      • Meditteranian
        • climates are not too hot or cold. They are found around the Mediterranean Sea, near Cape Town in South Africa and Melbourne in Australia.
    • Human Uses of:
      • Rainforests
        • The Amazon - Case Study
          • The short term benefits of clearing the rain-forest is:
            • land for agriculture, houses and roads
            • jobs for local workers in road building, logging, agriculture, mining and construction
            • the generation of income (often in valuable foreign currency) for the LEDC when wood, minerals, and other resources are sold
            • scientific investigation into rainforest plants may provide new food sources and medicines
          • These benefits, however, come at a cost. Clearing rainforest threatens the survival of many plant and animal species and can lead to serious environmental degradation.
            • The short term benefits of clearing the rain-forest is:
              • land for agriculture, houses and roads
              • jobs for local workers in road building, logging, agriculture, mining and construction
              • the generation of income (often in valuable foreign currency) for the LEDC when wood, minerals, and other resources are sold
              • scientific investigation into rainforest plants may provide new food sources and medicines
          • Widespread deforestation damages the whole biosphere (the balance of living and non-living things) with serious long-term consequences.
          • Positive impacts of human intervention
            • Improved transportation - new roads and airports. Better transportation means easier access to raw materials like minerals and timber. Rainforest resources can be transported away and sold.
            • Infrastructure, hospitals and education can be improved from the money gained from selling natural resources.
            • Profits from selling resources can be used to improve a country's infrastructure. For example, profits from the sale of rainforest resources can be used to build schools and hospitals.
            • Raw materials, eg tropical hardwoods such as ebony and mahogany, can be sold for a good price abroad.
            • Mineral deposits in the Amazon include bauxite (the main constituent of aluminium), iron ore, manganese, gold, silver and diamonds. Minerals can be sold for high profits.
            • Large-scale farming brings money into the country and provides food and jobs for the country's growing population.
            • Small-scale farming provides food for rainforest communities and the landless poor of Brazil.
          • Problems of human intervention
            • New roads divide up parts of the rain-forest and can cut off connections between different biotic and abiotic systems.
            • Land clearance for farming, transportation and mining can lead to deforestation.
            • Fertile soils that make farming possible are quickly washed away when the forest is cleared. If soil ends up in rivers, this can lead to flooding.
            • Loss of animal habitat occurs when trees are cut down. Hence, deforestation can result in endangering animals and plant life, or even causing them to become extinct.
            • Profits from large-scale farming and selling resources often go back to MEDCsor large companies and don't benefit the rainforest communities.

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