Ecology is a branch of biology that deals with the study of living things and how they relate among themselves and to the environment. An ecosystem is a natural unit that consists of biotic and abiotic factors. Biotic factors refer to biological aspects of the environment while abiotic factors refer to the physical environmental factors. This paper seeks to discuss the tropical rain forest.
The content of the paper will include: biodiversity, food chain and endangered species in the tropical rain forest and the various levels of the food chain. The content will also include the threats facing the tropical rain forest, the impacts of the threats to the ecosystem and the possible solutions to the threats and the impacts of these solutions.
The tropical rain forest is among the types of ecosystems exhibited in ecology. Other types of ecosystems include: “aquatic, arid, deciduous forests, grasslands and tundra ecosystems” (COTF 1).
The tropical rain forest is a hot and moist ecosystem that is found along the equator. This ecosystem is found in parts of Africa, South America and parts of Asia. Rainfall in this ecosystem is continuous throughout the year and ranges from 60 to 160 inches of rain gauge measurements.
The environment which consists of hot and moist conditions is supportive to a large number of plants and animals. The conditions form an optimum environment for bacteria inhabitation. The soil of the ecosystem is however not very fertile because nutrients are drained away by the rain water (COTF 1).
According to Waring and Running, tropical rainforest is inhabited by a variety of plants and animals. It has been estimated that the ecosystem is inhabited by a record of more than four hundred and seventy species of plants per hectare around the equator. There is also a variety of invertebrate species as well as micro organisms.
Also present in the tropical rainforest are the herbivores which are mainly known to feed on plant leaves and grass (Waring and Running 184). The ecosystem is also inhabited by a number of insects and birds, some of which can fly while others just climb trees. Other birds like the parrots can climb as well as fly (Darwin 1).
Food chain is a map representation showing what given species of an ecosystem feed on. It is a representation of energy flow among the biotic factors in the system.
Every element in the ecosystem is therefore significant as the energy flow passes through it. This implies that given species of plants and animals derive food from other species. The energy flow could mean death of members of a given species or just a mere consumption of a part of a member of the given species. The energy flow however aids the survival of some species in the ecosystem.
At the top of the food chain are the primary producers. This level consists of green plants which utilizes sunlight to synthesize their food. Bellow the green plants are the class of primary consumers which consists of herbivores. The herbivores feed on the plants’ leaves. After the primary consumers there is the level known as secondary consumers. This level consists of carnivores which feed on the herbivores.
The secondary consumers are food providers to the tertiary consumers. The last level of the food chain is the class of decomposers which degenerate decaying matter to the form that can be absorbed by plants as nutrients. This completes the chain cycle which then begin again with the plants (Aloian and Kalman 8)
A species is said to be endangered if its existence is threatened by either human actions or by a natural cause. The study of food chain reveals that members of the ecosystem feed on one another in a given direction. This has the effect of relatively reducing the number of the species. Feldhamer claimed that almost 45 percent of the global tropical rain forest has been destroyed over time. This includes alarming destructions of up to 85% in Ivory Coast.
Forest destruction occurs due to a number of reasons. The major reason for the deforestation in tropical rainforests in Africa and parts of America is the expansion of agricultural land. The process often include clearing and burning of the vegetation which as a result kills the soil microorganisms whose role of decomposing matter provides nutrients for plants. There are however many other species which are endangered as their habitat is either destroyed or disturbed.
The extent to which the species are endangered will vary from one rainforest to another as well as from one point to another within a rainforest depending on the factors that affects the lives of the different species in the tropical ecosystems. The forest itself, being a sole primary producer for the ecosystem and its susceptibility to destruction by human, makes it a critically endangered.
Human activities together with the global climate change have resulted in drastic reduction of the forest cover and even extinction of some plants species (Feldhamer, 531; Endangered 1). It has been argued that only 14% out of the original tropical forest is currently in existence. It can therefore be concluded that the forest is in itself the most endangered as it is faced with both natural and adverse human destruction (Species 1).
Threats facing the tropical rain forests include the clearance of the forests by humans to create agricultural land and to use trees as industrial raw materials. Another threat is the change in climate. Deforestation has a great impact on the ecosystem as it destroys part of the organisms in the system thus causing chain gaps in the food webs (Marietta n.d.).
Lindsey explained that deforestation can be a source of conflict between the people living in or depending on the forest and the ones causing deforestation. In attempting to solve such conflicts government agencies have established policies to create a balance among all the dependants of the forests. Environmental impacts of deforestation are the effects on biodiversity and climate change.
Again policies are put in place to preserve the habitats and the environment in general. An example is reduced agricultural productivity due to low rainfall and degraded soil. A possible solution would be to restore the forests (Lindsey, 2007).
The tropical rainforest is the richest ecosystem in terms of number of species. There is interdependence among the species with some feeding on others. This together with human activities has endangered some species.
The greatest threat is seen to be on plants. Plants being the primary producers in the ecosystem are likely to bring down the whole ecosystem if they are tampered with. More action is still needed to preserve the tropical rainforest and other ecosystems.
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Feldhamer, Armen. Mammalogy: adaptation, diversity, ecology. New York, NY: JHU Press, 2007. Print.
Lindsey, Ryan. Tropical deforestation. Earth Observatory, 2007. Web. 04 March, 2011.
Marietta. The Tropical Rain Forest. Marrieta, n.d. Web. 04 March, 2011.
Waring, Richard and Running, Sirm. Forest ecosystems: analysis at multiple scales. London, UK :Elsevier, 2007. Print.