Ecosystem - a community of living organism and the physical environment within which they interact.
This unit of work aims to understand how ecosystems work and function so that we can better appreciate the role humans play within this process. As always, our view is looking forward and considering how we can best manage the role people play within ecosystems to ensure it is sustainable.
You can download the unit summary from the attachments and the Slideshare links are below.
1 - Introduction
2 - Energy Flows
3 - Nutrient Cycles
4 - Dynamic Equilibrium and Feedback
5 - Biodiversity and Humans
6 - Intro to Plant Succession
7 - Plant Succession Theories
8 - Valuing Ecosystems
9 - Norfolk Broads (from Tessa)
Google Books Links
Planet Geography (chapters 12 and 13)
AS Level Geography (Chapter 3 - Energy and Life)
Ecosystem Case Studies
For each case study you need to demonstrate an understanding of the structure and processes that exist and operate within the ecosystem (i.e. how the ecosystem functions as a natural system).
From this understanding you then need to consider the impact human activity (especially forestry, farming and pollution) has on these structures and processes (i.e. how do humans affect the vegetation, soils, energy flows, nutrient cycle etc.)
Finally, you must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the management and conservation strategies employed within each ecosystem and evaluate these in terms of sustainability.
The detailed guidance sheet can be downloaded below and the targeted links and advice should help you. In addition, the Youtube links on the right are well worth a watch, and if you can make the David Bowie connection before watching it then I will be very impressed.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)
Home of TEEB
The EU and TEEB
Tropical Forest Case Study
An overview of deforestation within Amazonia (Deforestation in Amazonia - The Encylopedia of Earth; Deforestation in the Amazon - Mongabay) would be appropriate with some specific detail about rates - you could even focus on a particular region such as Mato Grosso (Expanding deforestation in Mata Grosso - Nasa images).
You will also need a strong understanding of the impacts of deforestation on natural systems such as; the water cycle, the nutrient cycle, energy flow; levels of biodiversity, soil erosion rates, and global climate processes (Consequences of Deforestation - Mongabay Overview).
You should then focus in more detail on real places where conservation strategies have been implemented.
Guyana and attempts being made to manage and conserve forests by placing a monetary value on them is a good starting point - Iwokrama and Canopy Capital provide detailed case study information. These links should help;
Valuing Ecosystem Services
Britain backs Guyana rainforest plan - Independent UK
Deforestation in Guyana - Mongabay
Underlying Causes of Deforestation and Degradation in Guyana
Forest Footprint Disclosure
Global Canopy Program
Can money grow on trees?
REDD - Reducing Emissions from Deforestation
From the Guardian UK
Success in Mato Grosso
Management and Conservation Strategies
Brazil takes action - Mongabay
Green Inc - Greenpeace questions rainforest project
Grasslands can be very varied and are found in many locations around the world from the tropical grasslands of the African savannah to the temperate grasslands of the American Prairie or Russian Steppe. You should focus on one area, the Steppe is an interesting but challenging option, otherwise keep it simple and learn the American Prairie. The Integrated Approach pages 339-342 is a good starting place also go to Nagle page 217 for the background basics.
The key idea is that grassland biomes are generally associated with large areas of fertile soil and thus they become ideal locations for agriculture (cereal farming and cattle ranching on the American Prairie). This human activity destabilizes the natural equilibrium of the ecosystem.
Attempts to manage Prairie grasslands are mainly focused on establishing protected areas and reserves (American Prairie Foundation and WWF Northern Great Plains Program)
Blue Planet Biomes (North American Prairie)
Russian Steppe (Sorry Wiki was the best I could do for the Russian Steppe)
Norfolk Broads Case Study Links
With the Norfolk Broads the key focus is the impact of pollution from agriculture, and the general impact of tourism, on the natural aquatic ecosystem. Eutrophication should definitely be covered. Planet Geography (pages 332 to 340) is a good starting point for general background information and a focused summary. The Norfolk Broads Authority website (Norfolk Broads Authority), especially the factfiles in the education section, provides more detail.
Information on water quality and euthrophication can be found here, for more detailed analysis of farming and land management go here, and for a fuller understanding of the impact of tourism, with a focus on bank erosion, you should click here.
In terms of management strategies, bio-manipulation on Barton Broad provides a good detailed and place specific case study, find out more here. More general information on management issues within the Norfolk Broads is covered here.
Managing Barton Broad - BBC Video