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Sources and Sinks

Nature (the ecosystem) is the source of all we consume.

The ecosystem also serves as a sink for all wastes.
Energy from
the sun "


ANIMALS resources and producing waste to SOLID WASTE

produce, consumer, and dispose
PLANTS of materials.
With Sources and Sinks
Fossil Fuels Air
Fossil Fuels Pollution
Fertilizers Machinery
Runoff Suppliers
River Loss of
Pesticides River
Irrigation Truck Fossil Fuels
Loss of
Machinery Producer Irrigation
Biodiversity Cropland
Air Fossil Fuels
Pollution Hydropower Truck Fossil Fuels Air
Forests Hydroelectric dam Machinery
Processing Plant Forests
Loss of Hydropower Food waste
Biodiversity Fossil Fuels
Truck Fossil Fuels
Built-up Land Freezer
Distribution Center Animal Feed Grazing Land
Hydroflourocarbons Truck Fossil Fuels
To Ozone

Freezer Solid
Grocery Store Packaging Waste

Forests Built-up Land Built-up Land


Loss of

Machinery Supplier Air


Pollution Fossil Fuels
Truck Fossil Fuels
Compost Hydroelectric dam
Producer Hydropower

Cover Air
Crops Truck Fossil Fuels Pollution

Market Forests

Redefining Progress's Ecological Footprint

Analysis measures the amount of renewable
and non-renewable ecologically productive
LAND AREA required to support the resource
demands and absorb the wastes of a given
population or specific activities.

The Ecological Footprint is an indicator that

measures sustainability. Footprints may be
measured on individual levels as well as
national levels. The index tracks the
consumption and waste patterns of individuals,
communities, businesses and nations, and has
shown that we overuse our planet's natural
capital by up to 25%.

Footprint results are expressed in global acres (or global hectares in metric
measurement) of biologically productive land.

1 Hectare = 2.5 Acres

Ecological Footprint accounts track people’s use of six primary land or water resources:

Distribution of Global Footprint

Nuclear +

Fossil Fuels Forests


? Cropland provides crops for food, animal feed, fiber, and oil
? Grasslands and pasture support grazing animals for meat, hides, wool, and milk
? Forests provide timber, wood fiber, and fuelwood
Forest sinks sequester carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emitted from
the burning of fossil fuels
? Marine and inland waters supply fish and other products
? Built-up land accommodates infrastruc ture for housing, transportation, industry,
and for capturing renewable energy.

Because people use resources from all over the world and pollute far away places with
their waste, Footprints sum up all these areas, wherever they may be located on the

Non-renewable resources, like fossil fuels and metals, exist in

finite amounts and thus cannot be replenished.

Renewable resources, like solar energy and trees, are

materials that can be replaced through natural processes.

Since non-renewable resources are limited, we must turn to alternative

sources rather than deplete the entire supply for future generations.
However, renewable resources can be depleted if drawn down more rapidly
than nature can build them back up. If we harvest more timber than can re-
grow, the forest dies. If we catch more fish than are spawned, the stocks die
out. If we dump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than nature can
reabsorb, the atmosphere is no longer hospitable to life. In order to lessen
our global ecological footprint, we must take steps to ensure that we are
using our renewable resources in a sustainable fashion, or within their
regenerative capacity (biocapacity).

Overshoot, or ecological deficit, is defined as taking more

than nature can renew in terms of both sources and sinks.
• Overshoot for sources: Taking more resources than the earth
can provide, or using them faster than they regenerate.
Ex: Harvesting forests faster than they can grow back.

• Overshoot for sinks: Putting more wastes into the ecosystem

than the earth can absorb.
Ex: Putting more carbon into the atmosphere than the
ecosystem can absorb.

Overshoot means drawing down natural capital rather than living off
the interest- the 'flow' of resources and services, such as the growth
in forests, the cleansing of water, and the absorption of air pollution.

Footprints of Nations
There are 1.89 hectares 5

(4.5 acres) of ecologically

productive land available
for each person on earth. Hectares per
capita 1.89
Current average usage is 2
about 2.2 hectares (5.5 1 0.5
acres), resulting in 20%
total overshoot.
United Kingdom World Average

Amount Available Bangladesh

14 © Redefining Progress, 2005. All rights reserved.

www redefiningprogress org

Sustainability is a new, broad concept with variable definitions. The United

Nations offers a leading role in defining and creating sustainable conditions
for the world.

“To meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs”
- United Nations World Commission On Environment and Development
(The Brundtland Commission), Our Common Future, 1987

“Living within the carrying capacity of the Earth’s life support systems.”
- United Nations Environment Program

Sustainability is the solution to overshoot. By monitoring

our current rates of resource depletion and renewal, we can
ensure that we live within the earth’s carrying capacity. The
Ecological Footprint is a tool for measuring sustainability.
Individuals can help decrease ecological footprints by
adopting sustainable practices, and nations may contribute
by enforcing policies that encourage sustainable
Egocentric Worldview
„ Egocentric Worldview:
is a belief based on the view that oneself should do
everything what supports one`s own interests and
„ According to Egocentric worldviews:

„ Only oneself has intrinsic value.

„ Other human & nature have instrumental value.

„ Any action is based on one´s personal wealth.

Anthropocentric Worldview
„ Anthropocentric Worldview:
is a belief based on the view that some tree, a wild
species or the biosphere has value only because
of its usefulness to us.
„ According to Anthropocentric worldviews:

„ Humans have intrinsic value.

„ The rest of nature has instrumental value.

„ We are in charge of the earth and can act as

masters or caretakers to other species.
Basic beliefs of Human-centered Worldviews
„ We are the planet’s most important species and
also in charge of the rest of nature.
„ The earth has an unlimited supply of resources.
Even if there are shortages, we can find substitutes.
„ We can solve environmental problems with our
„ Our success on earth depends upon how well we
can understand, control and manage earth’s life-
supporting systems.
„ The potential for economic growth is limitless and
more economic growth is always good.
Life-centered and earth-centered
environmental worldviews

„ Main Beliefs:
„ These viewpoints see an intrinsic value in
all forms of life, irrespective of their
potential or actual uses to humans.
„ Nature exists not only for humans but for all
of the earth’s species
Major life and earth-centered
environmental worldviews
„ 1) Life-centered (biocentric) school:
believes that humans have an ethical
responsibility to not cause premature
extinction of any species
„ Every organism has an inherent right to
survive as well as having a potential
economic good for human use.
„ The nonliving environment has instrumental
or utilitarian value .
Life and earth-centered environmental
„ 2) Earth-centered (ecocentric) school: is
devoted to preserving the totality of earth’s
biodiversity, nonliving environment and
the functioning of its life-supporting
„ Main beliefs: We are part of the
community of life and the ecological
processes that sustain life.
„ The environment receives moral
consideration of its own, that is not
associated with human interests.
Ecological Systems

„ Ecology – the branch of biology that studies the

relationships between organisms and their
Ecosystem Components
„ The physical (abiotic) component of the forest
consists of the atmosphere, climate, soil, and

„ The living (biotic) component includes the many

different organisms that inhabit the forest – plants,
animals, microbes.
Ecosystem Hierarchy
Organism – Autecology

Population: A group of individuals of the same species that

occupy a given area - Demecology

Community - All populations of different species living

and interacting within an ecosystem - Synecology

Ecosystem - all of the interacting organisms in an area and

their interactions with their abiotic surroundings -
Synecology River community with
Functional Feeding Groups

Caridina freshwater shrimp Caridina population River ecosystem

Ecosystem Hierarchy
What is Ecosystem Function?
„ The way in which the different aspects of the
ecosystem work together
„ Examples
„ Energy flow
„ Food chain
„ Nutrient cycling- carbon, nitrogen
Energy Flow

„ First law of thermodynamics – energy is neither

created or destroyed

„ Second law of thermodynamics – when energy is

transferred or transformed, part of the energy
assumes a form that cannot pass on any further --
The Path of Energy in Ecosystems
„ Energy flows into the biological world from the sun
„ Producers capture sunlight and transform it into
chemical energy by photosynthesis
„ Also called autotrophs
SunE + lowE inorg.
inorg. matter > highE org. matter

„ Consumers obtain their energy from consuming plants or

other animals
„ Also called heterotrophs
HighE org. matter > E + lowE org./inorg
org./inorg.. matter + HighE org. matter

„ Decomposers obtain their energy by biodegradation of

excretions and dead organisms
Org./inorg.. matter > lowE inorg.
inorg. matter
„ A trophic, or feeding,
level consists of all
organisms feeding at the
same energy level

„ Food chain
„ Passage of food
energy through
trophic levels in
a linear path
„ Producers
„ Green plants and algae
„ Use solar energy to build
energy-rich carbohydrates

Agricultural systems

Forests Wetlands
„ Consumers:Herbivores
„ Animals that eat plants
„ The primary consumers of


Phytophagous beetles
Humming bird
„ Carnivores
„ Secondary consumers are animals that eat herbivors
„ Tertiary consumers are animals that eat other carnivores

Zaocys snake

Philippine Crocodile
Flower mantis

„ Omnivores
„ Animals that eat both
plants and animals

Monitor lizard


Puntius barbe
„ Detritivores
„ Organisms
that eat dead

Scavenger water beetle

Hydropsychid caddisfly Ovitamon freshwater crab

„ Decomposers
„ Organisms that
break down
Bacteria & micro fungi
Cortinarius croceus
Lindeman’s Efficiency
„ Respiration/Metabolism is NOT efficient
„ Only a certain amount of the biomass that is eaten
by an organism is able to be used as energy /
biomass construction
„ Most energy is lost as heat into the environment
(approximately 90%): catabolism
„ Each additional trophic level on a pyramid means
that only 10% of the energy is stored (from the
original amount of biomass eaten): anabolism
„ Food chains generally
consist of only 3 or 4
„ About one order of
magnitude of available
energy is lost from one
trophic level to the next
„ The amount of energy and
space needed to feed animals
on higher trophic levels
would be larger than the
amount of energy expended
to forage for it
„ Top predators are sensitive
to changes in the energy
flow of an ecosystem
Ecological Pyramids
„ A plant fixes about 1% of the sun’s energy that
falls on its green parts

„ Successive members of a food chain incorporate ~

10% of energy available in organisms they
„ There are far more individuals at the lower tropic levels
Fairly large Ecological pyramids

Found in larger numbers, but

still contain 90% less energy

Inverted pyramid
„ Because animals eat
at different trophic
levels, most
ecosystems have
interwoven paths of
„ A complicated
path of energy
flow is called a
food web
Other effects of Lindeman’s Efficiency

„ Omnivores (i.e., bears, humans, etc.) can

switch trophic levels depending on the food
sources that are available
„ Eating at lower trophic levels can support
more members of a population in an
Energy Flow and Eating Habits
„ Meat eating (higher on the trophic pyramid)
uses more energy than eating veggies
„ Remember, 70% of the grain that we grow is
used to feed livestock
„ 100 kg of grain can feed:
„ 10 kg of cow and 1 kg of steak eating people
„ 10 kg of grain eating people (10x more)
Land Ecosystems
„ More than 90% of described species occur on land
„ Primary climatic factors that determine type of organisms
in area:
„ Precipitation
„ Temperature

„ A biome is a terrestrial ecosystem that occurs over a broad

„ Characterized by a particular climate and a defined group of
Biomes of the World

Succession: Natural development of an ecosystem and its organism communities

towards a stable state. Its final stage (climax) is defined by the biome.

Succession: Natural development of an ecosystem and its organism communities

towards a stable state. Its final stage (climax) is defined by the biome.
Geochemical cycles (Matter cycles)
Carbon cycle
Geochemical cycles (Matter cycles)
Nitrogen cycle

Amino acids in proteins

Geochemical cycles (Matter cycles)
Nitrogen is essential for many processes; it is crucial for any life on Earth. It is in all
amino acids, is incorporated into proteins, and is present in the bases that make up
nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA. In plants, much of the nitrogen is used in
chlorophyll molecules, which are essential for photosynthesis and further growth.
Although earth’s atmosphere is an abundant source of nitrogen, most is relatively
unusable by plants.
Chemical processing, or natural fixation (through processes such as bacterial
conversion, are necessary to convert gaseous nitrogen into forms usable by living
organisms. This makes nitrogen a crucial part of food production. The abundance or
scarcity of this "fixed" form of nitrogen, (also known as reactive nitrogen), dictates how
much food can be grown on a piece of land.

Increased use of nitrogen fertilizers is causing dramatic environmental changes,

including surface and groundwater pollution, ocean dead zones and boosting global
Ammonia is highly toxic to fish and the water discharge level of ammonia from
wastewater treatment plants must often be closely monitored. To prevent loss of fish,
nitrification prior to discharge is often desirable.
Geochemical cycles (Matter cycles)
Nitrogen fixation
Atmospheric nitrogen must be processed, or "fixed", in order to be used by plants. Some fixation occurs in lightning
strikes, but most fixation is done by free-living or symbiotic bacteria. These bacteria have the nitrogenase enzyme that
combines gaseous nitrogen with hydrogen to produce ammonia, which is then further converted by the bacteria to
make their own organic compounds. Some nitrogen fixing bacteria, such as Rhizobium, live in the root nodules of
legumes (such as peas or beans). Here they form a mutualistic relationship with the plant, producing ammonia in
exchange for carbohydrates. Nutrient-poor soils can be planted with legumes to enrich them with nitrogen. A few other
plants can form such symbioses. Today, a very considerable portion of nitrogen is fixated in ammonia chemical plants.
There are four ways to convert N2 (atmospheric nitrogen gas) into more chemically
reactive forms:
1. Biological fixation: some symbiotic bacteria Rhizobium, most often mutualisticly
associated with leguminous plants and some free-living bacteria (Azotobacter) are
able to fix nitrogen as organic nitrogen.
2. Industrial N-fixation: In the Haber-Bosch process, under great pressure, at a
temperature of 600 C, and with the use of a catalyst N2 is converted together with
hydrogen gas (H2) into ammonia (NH3), which is used to make fertilizer and
3. Combustion of fossil fuels : automobile engines and thermal power plants, which
release various nitrogen oxides (NOx).
4. Other processes : The formation of NO from N2 and O2 due to photons and
especially lightning, are important for atmospheric chemistry, but not for terrestrial or
aquatic nitrogen turnover.
Geochemical cycles (Matter cycles)
When a plant dies, an animal dies, or an animal expels waste, the initial form of nitrogen is organic. Bacteria, or in
some cases, fungi, convert the organic nitrogen within the remains back into ammonium (NH4+), a process called
ammonification or mineralization.

The conversion of ammonia to nitrates is performed primarily by soil-living bacteria and other nitrifying bacteria. The
primary stage of nitrification, the oxidation of ammonia (NH3) is performed by bacteria such as the Nitrosomonas
species, which converts ammonia to nitrites (NO2-). Other bacterial species, such as the Nitrobacter, are responsible
for the oxidation of the nitrites into nitrates (NO3-).It is important for the nitrites to be converted to nitrates because
accumulated nitrites are toxic to plant life.
Due to their very high solubility, nitrates can enter groundwater. Elevated nitrate in groundwater is a concern for
drinking water use because nitrate can interfere with blood-oxygen levels in infants and cause methemoglobinemia or
blue-baby syndrome. Where groundwater recharges stream flow, nitrate-enriched groundwater can contribute to
eutrophication, a process leading to high algal, especially blue-green algal populations and the death of aquatic life
due to excessive demand for oxygen. While not directly toxic to fish life like ammonia, nitrate can have indirect effects
on fish if it contributes to this eutrophication. Nitrogen has contributed to severe eutrophication problems in some water
Denitrification is the reduction of nitrates back into the largely inert nitrogen gas (N2), completing the nitrogen cycle.
This process is performed by bacterial species such as Pseudomonas and Clostridium in anaerobic conditions. They
use the nitrate as an electron acceptor in the place of oxygen during respiration. These facultatively anaerobic bacteria
can also live in aerobic conditions.
Geochemical cycles (Matter cycles)
Human impacts on the nitrogen cycle

As a result of extensive cultivation of legumes (particularly soy, alfalfa, and clover), growing use of the Haber-Bosch process in the
creation of chemical fertilizers, and pollution emitted by vehicles and industrial plants, human beings have more than doubled the annual
transfer of nitrogen into biologically available forms. In addition, humans have significantly contributed to the transfer of nitrogen trace
gases from Earth to the atmosphere, and from the land to aquatic systems. Human alterations to the global nitrogen cycle are most
intense in developed countries and in Asia, where vehicle emissions and industrial agriculture are highest.
N2O (nitrous oxide) has risen in the atmosphere as a result of agricultural fertilization, biomass burning, cattle and feedlots, and other
industrial sources. N2O has deleterious effects in the stratosphere, where it breaks down and acts as a catalyst in the destruction of
atmospheric ozone. N2O in the atmosphere is a greenhouse gas, currently the third largest contributor to global warming, after carbon
dioxide and methane. While not as abundant in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, for an equivalent mass, nitrous oxide is nearly 300
times more potent in its ability to warm the planet.
Ammonia (NH3) in the atmosphere has tripled as the result of human activities. It is a reactant in the atmosphere, where it acts as an
aerosol, decreasing air quality and clinging on to water droplets, eventually resulting in acid rain. Fossil fuel combustion has contributed
to a 6 or 7 fold increase in NOx flux to the atmosphere. NO2 actively alters atmospheric chemistry, and is a precursor of tropospheric
(lower atmosphere) ozone production, which contributes to smog, acid rain, damages plants and increases nitrogen inputs to
ecosystems. Ecosystem processes can increase with nitrogen fertilization, but anthropogenic input can also result in nitrogen saturation,
which weakens productivity and can kill plants Decreases in biodiversity can also result if higher nitrogen availability increases nitrogen-
demanding grasses, causing a degradation of nitrogen-poor, species diverse heathlands.
Onsite sewage facilities such as septic tanks and holding tanks release large amounts of nitrogen into the environment by discharging
through a drainfield into the ground. Microbial activity consumes the nitrogen and other contaminants in the wastewater.
However, in certain areas, the soil is unsuitable to handle some or all of the wastewater, and, as a result, the wastewater with the
contaminants enters the aquifers. These contaminants accumulate and eventually end up in drinking water. One of the contaminants
concerned about the most is nitrogen in the form of nitrates. A nitrate concentration of 10 ppm or 10 milligrams per liter is the current EPA
limit for drinking water and typical household wastewater can produce a range of 20-85 ppm.
Additional risks posed by increases in fixed nitrogen in aquatic systems include spurring the creation and growth of eutrophic lakes and
oceanic dead zones through algal bloom-induced hypoxia.
Geochemical cycles (Matter cycles)
Phosphorous cycle
Geochemical cycles (Matter cycles)
Phosphorous cycle

Important phosphorous
compounds in

Up to fifty percent of bone is

made up of a modified form
of the inorganic mineral
Carbonated calcium-deficient
hydroxylapatite is the main
mineral of which dental
enamel and dentin are
comprised. Hydroxyapatite
crystals are also found in the
small calcifications (within the
pineal gland and other
structures) known as corpora
arenacea or 'brain sand'
Geochemical cycles (Matter cycles)
Phosphorous cycle
Important phosphorous compounds in organisms

Nucleotides are molecules that, when joined together, make up the structural units of RNA and DNA. In addition,
nucleotides play central roles in metabolism. In that capacity, they serve as sources of chemical energy (adenosine
triphosphate and guanosine triphosphate), participate in cellular signaling (cyclic guanosine monophosphate and cyclic
adenosine monophosphate), and are incorporated into important cofactors of enzymatic reactions (coenzyme A, flavin
adenine dinucleotide, flavin mononucleotide, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate).
Geochemical cycles (Matter cycles)
Phosphorous cycle

Important phosphorous
compounds in organisms

Lipids are a broad group of

naturally-occurring molecules which
includes fats, waxes, sterols, fat-
soluble vitamins (such as vitamins
A, D, E and K), monoglycerides,
diglycerides, phospholipids, and
others. The main biological
functions of lipids include energy
storage, as structural components
of cell membranes, and as
important signaling molecules.