problem solving involves an ecological
imagination in order to envision the hidden relations binding all
creatures to one another in the places they are inhabiting.
Consider recent findings:
James A. Estes, et. al. "Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth" Science, 15 July 2011.
"Until recently, large apex consumers were ubiquitous across the globe and had been for millions of years. The loss of these animals may be humankind’s most pervasive influence on nature. Although such losses are widely viewed as an ethical and aesthetic problem, recent research reveals extensive cascading effects of their disappearance in marine, terrestrial, and freshwater ecosystems worldwide. This empirical work supports long-standing theory about the role of top-down forcing in ecosystems but also highlights the unanticipated impacts of trophic cascades on processes as diverse as the dynamics of disease, wildfire, carbon sequestration, invasive species, and biogeochemical cycles. These findings emphasize the urgent need for interdisciplinary research to forecast the effects of trophic downgrading on process, function, and resilience in global ecosystems.
Science, 15 July 2011:
Vol. 333 no. 6040 pp. 301-306
- large apex consumers– top level predators: such as polar bears, cougars, lions, etc.
- ubiquitous– everywhere.
- cascading effects– when one thing is dependent on the other; failure of both ensues.
- trophic cascades– the food chain nourishes fewer creatures, specialists die-off.
- trophic downgrading– controls exhibited by large consumers at the top of the chain are gone.
- process– the conversion of energy and nutrients into food, shelter, and dependencies.
- function– the role of population control that predators exhibit on grazers or prey numbers.
- resilience– the assimilative and carrying capacity of places to recover from damage.
- ecological terminology & ecology index.
- laws of ecology.
Problems | Natural power source's | Cycles | Forestry | Biodiversity | Climate | Ecological
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"There is no evidence humanity,...has evolved an ecological sense.
"People began altering nature almost a million years ago."
L. B. Slobodkin
An older case study of Estes & Slobodkin's points:
what biologist, Norman Myers says about tropical forests,
trees, fungi, soil
and most complex ecosystems on earth,...as well as the oldest, of them
looking back, I feel that the forest represented a more striking spectacle
than any other I have come across during my travels in almost one hundred
countries....a dipterocarp forest is in a class of its own. ¶
will not be the same for you again after setting eyes on something that
exceeds all your previous experience.
An above average dipterocarp,...can measure 5 meters (15 feet) around
more important, it was the entire community of dipterocarps that impressed
me, so many of these giants towering in one area.
trees per hectare [2.47 acres] these huge plants extending across Borneo
for 1,000 kilometers, a greater quantity of impressive trees than anywhere
else. Moreover, as a tree is more than just wood, so a forest is more
than just trees. ¶ 5
typical dipterocarp soars 50 meters, making it as tall as a twenty story
building -- 50 to 100 ton trees! (Giant Sequoia is 1,000 tons) dipterocarp
forests of southeast Asia cover an area of a million square kilometers.
are an expression of plant life in a league of their own. 100-600
years old ¶ 8
tropical rain forest amounts to a veritable dynamo for generating wood
meters [cu. m.] / hectare to 600 cu. m. / hectare up to 750 cu. m. / hectare
1 cubic meter ~ one ton (carbon, nitrogen and sulfur fixation)
a hectare there were 20 species of trees ¶ 10
= any thing with a trunk of 4 or 10 centimeters ¶ 10
from ¶ 11s data:
plants ¶ 12
including 1/4 of all the world's orchids are in Southeast Asia ¶ 13
of sunlight for thick undergrowth ¶ 14
"So diverse is the world of the forest canopy that it can be considered
the last great frontier of biology ¶ 15
ignorance of the biology of the forest canopy recent advances in
frontier biology ¶ 16
so great that only a few representatives in a whole hectare.
disappearance in the wild of the Malay begonia found only
in 1940s ¶ 17
NP, Costa Rica, 8 species of Heliconius butterflies ¶ 18
square kilometers of the Amazon region ¶ 18
dipterocarp species in Borneo & only 15 in New Guinea; 1700 km eastward
or Kalimantan as the Indonesians call it, has a greater diversity of dipterocarp
species than does New Guinea, a very diverse island.
eight phytogeographic zones, or plant areas, each with a
distinctive assembly of plants and animals. This diversity [ecological]
of formations in tropical forests is in contrast to the pattern of forests
elsewhere. In Alaska, for example, we find a type of forest that is
virtually identical to the one in northeastern Canada -- 4,500 kilometers
away. ¶ 19
what makes a forest tick? ¶ 20
temperate strategies for timbering, parks and preservation must all be
different ¶ 20
I believe that using the term forest
a bunch of trees in the tropics and a bunch of trees elsewhere is misleading.
receives 5 meters of rainfall... throughout the year. [ 180 inches/ year.
of the rain storm on the forest & 1/4 reaches the ground ¶21
insulation of the forest interior, I surmised, must help to maintain the
equable climate, with its stable warmth and moisture levels throughout
the day and night. ¶ 22
the thunderstorm, the forest released a smell of earthly fertility. A
musty odor, like that in a greenhouse, it was strangely satisfying even
though it spoke of decomposition" [mixed
forest is home to hosts of decomposers, notably organisms of the topsoil,
such as mites, nematodes, ants, and termites. In one square meter of leaf
litter... found 800 ants belonging to 50 species, while similar square
meter may contain as many as 2,000 termites. ¶ 23
4 and 7 grams of soil fauna per square meter, an amount twice the like
weight of all mammals and birds in the region put together. 1/3 to 1/2
half the biomass (living matter) of the 4 million wildebeest, zebra and
gazelles of the Serengeti is made up of termites!
the topsoil contains multitudes of fungi, especially
mycorrhizal fungi, ¶24
other words the smell of the fungi and other decomposers is the smell
of life. ¶ 24
fact, leaf litter can decompose within six weeks compared to leaf
litter decay rates one year in a temperate and 7 years in a boreal conifer
forest. ¶ 25
the danger / safety of the forest and the citys streets ¶ 26
still know next to nothing about what makes a forest continue on its quiet,
complex way. ¶ 27
do not have a precise idea of just how much tropical forest still exists.
"sensing I had picked up more basic biology in this patch of forest
than possible during a day in any other ecological zone. ¶
the few ways that really matter, through first-hand experience.... and
through a process of imaginative osmosis that I find stirs
within me whenever I am confronted with a major phenomenon of nature.
it is recreation in the sense of re-creation. ¶ 28
Natural Capital | Accounting for natural assets | Worth of ecosystem services
to forests worldwide also come from:
system (ecosystem) model
Walker, Reading the Environment, "Nature's
Powerhouse," pages 202 - 210.
ecologist, Dr. Jack Putz of U of Florida, says now this dipterocarp
forest has largely disappeared due to logging of older trees.
Personal Communication, 2004.
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