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Life processes – Biodiversity

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Often referred to as “Ecosystems”, Biomes are environments that differ depending on certain factors such as plant life, human presence (which will increase or decrease the pollution levels depending on the advancement of the civilization) and weather/climate. Biomes are easier to define in the worlds of biology, ecology, and biogeography than areas of the planet that have been sectioned and defined by the presence of humans.

There are 6 basic terrestrial and aquatic biomes, these can be categorised into Freshwater, Marine, Desert, Forest, Grassland and Tundra. Every different type of ecosystem is unique unto itself, with forms of plant life and animal species that are found only within them. The animals collect in these environment and they rely on the plants for food or shelter or both. Other major factors within a biome are the existence of clean water and suitable weather conditions that these animals can live comfortably in, without these factors, the ecosystem would fail.

Biodiversity exists within a biome, this is used to categorise the different types of life within them.

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Sub definitions are food-chains, placing predatory animals that feed on lesser able animals higher up. Below is an example of a food chain in the rainforest. (1) A food web is a more detailed way of connecting food chains. A food chain diagram, like the one located to the left can only depict a simple staged diagram, whereas a food chain can show how many different types of wildlife can survive on different.

Many animals eat more than one thing, a way of showing this is to illustrate it in a food web. An example of one can be seen below. (3) Animals multiply and thrive in some places better than others, for example, varieties of insects that rely on certain types of abiotic climates such as the warm and humid types found in rainforests, would not be able to survive in a desert environment as the conditions there would not provide them with the adequate plant life they need in order to survive both for food and shelter.

Using the diagram located to the left it is possible to view some of the more widely known wildlife in this particular ecosystem, however if one were to compare this particular environment to one on the opposite end of the scale, for example, the desert, the wildlife, plant life and factors of human interference would be dramatically different. Rainforests have long been affected by the presence of man and as a result have diminished in size dramatically; this has a direct result on the ecosystems found within them.

Our continuing harvesting of wood from trees and the use of land for grazing purposes for farms and such has reached a deadly climax for many species and has forced the wildlife and animal life to adapt to the changes and although they continue to live within these ever changing environments, some species have not. According to sources between 30-100 species of animals, including birds, mammals, fish and insects are being wiped out every single day due to human interference in their habitats (2)

The question of which biome has the highest and lowest biodiversity is one that is in constant competition within scientists. Some believe it to be the marine biome as some say there are more variations of plant and marine life and it is the largest, covering two thirds of the earth’s surface. Another point directly relating to this particular decision is the affect of humans on the biome. Humans pollute the seas daily, this is not in contention, however the sheer volume of area within which these species survive is not as affected as the land as humans cannot affect as much of it as they cannot access it all.

Another argument is that the neotropical climate of climate of Costa Rica puts it at the top, it has over 500,000 different types of species, approximately 300,000 of these are insects. An example of adapting within biomes is that of squirrels. Traditionally found in Britain are the Red and Grey squirrel, the latter of which was introduced to Britain around 130 years ago. The community of the red squirrel is under threat due to the grey squirrel, they raid the food hordes of the red’s and as a result their numbers are dwindling.

The red squirrel is unable to digest acorns unlike their foreign cousins form across the seas, as a result, the red squirrel is unable to survive in many of the oak laden wooded areas around Britain, over time the red squirrel has found its niche and now, although greatly outnumbered, approx 2. 5 million greys to 160,000 red, the population have survived in man made habitats such as the one on the Isle of Wight and in North East England, Scotland & Wales.

Being born and raised in Blean, Canterbury, a regular family outing would be to take regular treks through Blean woods. This is a perfect example of a local ecosystem and evidence of biodiversity. Blean woods spans over 3,000 hectares and within its boundaries thrive many different types of wildlife. Nature reserves have been set up including an RSPB base and guided walks are available on most days, taking nature lovers deep into its terrain to understand, view and record the process of nature that dwells within.

The woods themselves are a popular attraction with tourists that travel from far and wide, many of which are people who have come to discover Canterbury and wish to find out more about the surrounding areas. The area itself is maintained by charitable organisations and funded by donations and it is important to understand the financial benefit that these woods have on the area and how much people depend on them. The Conifer tree is the breed of tree that is found the least in these particular woods but there are sanctuaries within it that breed these trees.

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