P. 1
LSM2251 10 Ecosystems

LSM2251 10 Ecosystems

|Views: 21|Likes:
Published by Abraham Kang

More info:

Published by: Abraham Kang on Dec 29, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

08/24/2013

pdf

text

original

LSM 2251

Lecture 11 Ecosystem Ecology

Richard Corlett PhD (A.N.U.), MA BA (Cantab) Professor, Department of Biological Sciences Previously: University of Hong Kong (1988-2008) NUS (1982-87) Chiang Mai University, Thailand (1980-1982) Interests: Terrestrial ecology of the tropics Conservation biology, climate change Plants, birds, mammals, insects….. etc.

My new books

Reading for today’s lecture: Molles - Chapter 18 & 19 Smith & Smith – Chapters 20, 21 (similar info in different words)

And for interest: Corlett (2009) The Ecology of Tropical East Asia – Chapter 6 (but the extra information in this will not be examined)

Fig. 17.3a

Food webs like this are one way of looking at an ecological community, but food webs with even a few species are very complex. This one has only 10 fish species and their foods.

Tropical rainforest at Lambir, Sarawak

52 hectares (= 0.53 km2) of this forest contains 1175 species of trees, and many thousand species of animals.

Fig. 18.17

An alternative approach……

Plants or Primary Production

Plants or Primary Production

Above-ground Primary Production Below-ground Primary Production

Ecosystem ecology

An ecosystem is a community plus its physical environment. Molles. Best definition!
The biotic community and its abiotic environment, functioning as a system. Smith & Smith A natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms (biotic factors) in an area functioning together with all of the non-living physical (abiotic) factors of the environment. Wikipedia

Ecosystem ecology

Ecosystems ecology focuses on the flow of energy and nutrients through both the living and non-living components of the system.
Note1: ecosystem ecologists are more careful when choosing boundaries than community ecologists are, because measuring flows across arbitrary boundaries is very difficult.

Ecosystem ecology

Gross Primary Production (GPP) is the total amount of biomass/carbon/energy fixed by plants in some period (usually a year)
Net Primary Production (NPP) is GPP minus the amount respired by the plants themselves, i.e. the amount of biomass/carbon/energy available to consumers – herbivores and detritivores. Note: carbon is the main constituent of biomass, and carbon and energy are fixed at the same time in photosynthesis and lost by respiration at the same time, so it does not really matter which is measured.

Ecosystem ecology

Gross Secondary Production (GSP) is the total amount of biomass/carbon/energy assimilated by herbivores in some period (usually a year)
Net Secondary Production (NSP) is GSP minus the amount respired by the herbivores themselves, i.e. the amount of biomass/carbon/energy available to secondary consumers – carnivores. But these are less commonly measured than GPP and NPP.

Ecosystem ecology

A trophic level is a position in the food web:
Primary producers – plants – form the first trophic level “Primary consumers” – herbivores & detritivores – form the second trophic level

“Secondary consumers”- carnivores – form the third…
“Tertiary consumers” – animals that eat carnivores - form the fourth etc.
e.g., the crested serpent eagle eats snakes etc.

Ecosystem ecology

A trophic level is a position in the food web:
Note1: many animals feed on several trophic levels (e.g. civets), but most feed mostly on one.

Note2: food chains are generally longer when dominated by ectotherms – fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates – than endotherms – mammals and birds. Why?
Ectotherm food webs can have < 7-9 trophic levels. [Like an animal that ate animals that ate animals that ate animals that ate animals that ate animals that ate tigers!]

Ecosystem ecology

What controls NPP on land?
On a global scale, it is mainly limited by temperature and/or moisture, so it is highest in the lowland tropical rainforest and lowest in very dry and/or cold places. Locally, however, soil nutrient availability can have a large impact on NPP. .

NPP estimate from satellite June Red>yellow > green> blue>black> grey

December

From NASA
- data from MODIS satellite

Annual NPP – also from NASA. Darker green is higher. Range = 0-1 kgC m-2

Evapotranspiration = Evaporation + transpiration [Depends on rainfall and temperature]

Note the scatter of points around the line, which indicates measurement errors or that other factors that are involved, e.g. temperature or nutrients

Data from Borneo rainforests showing how two major components of NPP (the yearly increase in biomass and the yearly litter fall) increase with soil P content.

In aquatic ecosystems, nutrients are more important than Fig. 18.9 temperature

The global pattern of marine NPP reflects nutrient enrichment by coastal runoff and upwelling of nutrient-rich deep waters.

Temperate lakes

Consumers can also influence NPP. This is in the Serengeti grasslands of East Africa.

Grazing at intermediate intensities produces compensatory growth, which increases NPP

Note: carbon follows exactly the same route as energy through the living components of the ecosystem. CO2 is the most important „greenhouse gas‟, so this view of ecosystems as „carbontransformers‟ is very important. Intact tropical forests are a major sink for human carbon emissions and tropical deforestation is a major source, so we need to understand this!

CO2
Fig. 18.17

CO2

Living organism consist mostly of water 95% of the rest is carbon compounds However, at least 14 additional inorganic nutrients are essential to plant growth: “macronutrients”: C, H, O, N, K, Ca, Mg, P, S “micronutrients”: Cl, Fe, B, Mn, Zn, Cu, Co, Mo Animals also need Na

Living organism consist mostly of water 95% of the rest is carbon compounds However, at least 14 additional inorganic nutrients are essential to plant growth: “macronutrients”: C, H, O, N, K, Ca, Mg, P, S “micronutrients”: Cl, Fe, B, Mn, Zn, Cu, Co, Mo If other environmental factors are OK (climate, water supply etc. ), plant growth is limited by the nutrient with the least favorable supply – the limiting nutrient. Usually N or P in terrestrial ecosystems (but can be Fe or Si in marine systems)

Remember this!!!! ENERGY cannot be recycled – life on Earth depends on the daily new supply from the sun NUTRIENTS must be recycled, because there is no new supply.

ENERGY cannot be recycled – life on Earth depends on the daily new supply from the sun NUTRIENTS must be recycled, because there is no new supply.

Without recycling, plants would grow exponentially until the supply of nutrients (or, rather, the limiting nutrient) was exhausted and life on Earth would then cease.
For most nutrients, this recycling depends on the decomposer system.

Nutrient cycling within an ecosystem:

“Grazer System” (herbivores, carnivores)

“Decomposer System” (detritivores, carnivores)

Primary Production

Dead Organic Matter

etc.

carnivores “Decomposer System” (detritivores, carnivores)

herbivores

Primary Production

Dead Organic Matter

Nutrient cycling within an ecosystem:

“Grazer System” (herbivores, carnivores)

“Decomposer System” (detritivores, carnivores)

Primary Production

Dead Organic Matter

Note: there are two different food chains in most ecosystems

forest

Nutrient cycling within an ecosystem:

“Grazer System” (herbivores, carnivores)

“Decomposer System” (detritivores, carnivores)

Primary Production

Dead Organic Matter

Note the key role that decomposition plays in nutrient cycles, controlling the rate of supply of nutrients to plants. Decomposition rates are influenced by temperature, moisture and leaf chemistry, with the highest decomposition rates for soft, nutrient-rich leaves in the tropical rainforest.

Fig. 19.6

X-axis is ratio of toughness to % N content

Nutrient cycling within an ecosystem:

Grazer System

Decomposer System

Primary Production

Dead Organic Matter

But cycling is never perfect and all cycles leak to a greater or lesser extent:

Grazer System

Decomposer System

Primary Production

Dead Organic Matter

At one extreme, carbon flows through the system (with energy), with little* or no recycling:
Grazer System (herbivores, carnivores)

Decomposer System

Primary Production

Dead Organic Matter

* In

forests, a small proportion of carbon dioxide from soil respiration (the decomposer system) is re-used in photosynthesis by forest understorey plants.

At the other extreme, P is tightly cycled within terrestrial ecosystems, with very small losses:
Grazer System (herbivores, carnivores)

Decomposer System

Primary Production

Dead Organic Matter

Losses are largely in solution for most nutrients, with K particularly “leaky”, since it is in the plant cytoplasm

N and S (like C) are also lost to the atmosphere as gases
Losses to the atmosphere are greatly increased in fires

If the ecosystem is in equilibrium, these outputs must be compensated by inputs of nutrients to the system For most nutrients, the main source is weathering of minerals in the soil, but soil minerals contain no C or N, which come from the atmosphere. Inputs in the rain or dust may also be important

The key role played by growing plants in minimizing nutrient losses has been demonstrated by studies of the inputs and outputs to whole small water catchments, such as the famous one at Hubbard Brook, in temperate deciduous forest in the northern USA.

They used 6 small catchments and measured nutrient:
Inputs in rain, snow and dust Outputs in the stream Cycling within the ecosystem For most nutrients, both inputs and outputs were small compared with the amounts in the biomass and the amount recycled within the system.

They then cleared the forest from one catchment (and used herbicide to suppress regrowth):

cut

Read about this in Molles, Chapter 19/Smith2 Chapter 22

Inputs/outputs of terrestrial nutrient cycles link them with nutrient flows at a much larger scale – here for P

Read about this in Molles, Chapter 19/Smith2 Chapter 22

And N. Nitrogen cycles are now very strongly influenced by inputs from industry and agriculture.

In Hawaii, an invasive nitrogen-fixing tree, Morella (= Myrica) faya, has massively changed nitrogen cycles.

Fig. 19.21

Why is all this important? 1. An ecosystem approach helps explain many of the patterns we see in nature. 2. Human activities are massively changing ecosystem processes and we need to understand the consequences, e.g.   rising global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rising regional nitrogen deposition from industrial and agricultural sources

Human carbon dioxide emissions

Natural cycle – because is more forest in northern hemisphere than southern

China

Europe

USA

Total nitrogen deposition from the atmosphere for 1860 and 2000 (Bobbink et al. 2010). Major anthropogenic (human) sources include biomass burning (forest fires etc.), fossil fuels, and intensive agriculture.

Summary of Lecture 11:
1. An ecosystem consists of a community and its physical environment. 2. Ecosystem ecologists mostly study energy and nutrient flows. 3. Energy cannot be recycled, nutrients must be. 4. Trophic levels are relative positions in the food web. The number of trophic levels is higher in ectotherm food webs, since less energy is lost at each stage. 5. On a global scale, terrestrial Net Primary Production is controlled by temperature and rainfall. Nutrients are locally important. Marine NPP is largely controlled by nutrients. Consumers can have a positive or negative influence. 6. Carbon follows the same pathway as energy through ecosystems. Carbon is recycled globally but not locally.

Summary of Lecture 11:
7. Plant growth is limited by the nutrient with the least favorable supply, i.e. lowest availability relative to needs. Thought to be usually N or P in terrestrial systems, but can be a micronutrient, such as Mo. 8. Decomposition has a key role in the supply of nutrients for plant growth, so factors that slow decomposition (drought, cold, tough or chemically defended plant materials) reduce the rate of supply of nutrients. 9. P is tightly cycled, K less so. N lost as oxides in fires. Leakage is mostly replaced by weathering of soil minerals, except C & N. 10. Small catchment studies show the key role of plant uptake in minimizing nutrient losses. 11. Human activities have a huge impact on C, N and other cycles.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->