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Alexis Chavez

APES Period #3
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Ripple Effects on Ecosystems
The way ecosystems work is through interdependence between living and nonliving
things. If one factor in an ecosystem were to be altered, even in the slightest way, it has the
potential of causing rupture and decline of the entire and rest of the system. Even if it were to
result in an almost immeasurable change and the feedback from that change is equal to or less
than the tiny change itself, it still alters the system in a way. There are, however, ecosystems
today that we see this ripple effect happen, most of which is anthropogenic. The ecosystem I am
referring to is the oceanic/marine ecosystem. One prime example of a lynchpin species being
affected in the ocean are coral reefs. Altering coral reefs, which are at the base of the food chain
can and will cause ripple effects, if affected.
Although marine life being affected automatically triggers a change in the food chain, a
deeper analysis is needed. It ultimately boils down to the idea that ripple effects are rooted on
anthropogenic aftermaths. It may not seem interconnected at first, but when analyzing the
internal links, it makes sense. A well-known fact is that global warming is real, happening now
and anthropogenic, this change in the global scale is what causes the oceanic ripple effects the
National Resources Defense Council explains that Current rates of sea-level rise are expected to
increase as a result both of thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of most mountain
glaciers and partial melting of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice caps. Getting at a deeper
level, one sees that as stated, warming melts ice caps, which means higher sea levels, these
higher sea levels are a result of a positive feedback loop in the sense that as melting increases, so
does the sea level. Another report tells us that If sea level rise is fast enough, shallow carbonate
environments that need to be in the photic zone (things like coral reefs), can be drowned, and this can
result in a temporary or long-term decline in the abundance and diversity of animals like corals.(Sato)
This report explains that when we have altered the sea levels, it can harm the most basic components
and key players to the food chain, this change eventually climbs up the ladder and affects biodiversity of
marine species.
Which brings me to my third point, that the decline of biodiversity in an ecosystems also
casus humans to become extinct At some point, the number of species could decline to the point
at which the ecosystem fails, and then humans also would become extinct. No one knows how
many [*171] species the world needs to support human life, and to find out -- by allowing certain
species to become extinct -- would not be sound policy (Diner). The effects of altering one
thing in an ecosystem, in this instance being sea levels, causes a domino effect on a whole
ecosystem causing not only puncture and extinction of that entire ecosystem, but also causes
irreparable damage to the ecosystem at a global scale. The ripple effects are massive; the chain
reaction that occurs was all caused by one thing we take for granted, ice melting.

Works Cited

Natural Resources Defense Council, The Consequences of Global Warming On Glaciers and
Sea Levels, No date; web.

Sato, Rebecca, Can Changes in Sea Level Cause Periods of Mass Extinction?A Galaxy
Exclusive, The Daily Galaxy, June 19, web,

Maj. Diner, David the army and the endangered species act: whos endangering whom? April
1993, web.