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Environmental Science Midterm 1
Terms in this set (17)
Define environment. Define science. What is environmental science? What does it mean to say environmental science is "multidisciplinary"?
Environment - All external conditions, factors, matter and energy, including living and nonliving things that affect any organism or other system. Science - Attempts to discover order in nature and use that knowledge to make predictions about what happens in nature. Environmental science - Interdisciplinary study that uses info and ideas from the physical science (bio, chem, geo) and social sciences/humanities (economics, politics, ethics) to learn how nature works, how we interact w/ environment, and how we can deal with environmental problems. Multidisciplinary - Combining all academic disciplines to solve a problem.
What is the difference between a hypothesis and a theory?
Hypothesis - A possible and testable answer to a question or explanation of what scientists observe in nature. Theory - A well tested and wisely accepted hypothesis or a group of related hypotheses.
Can you design a sustainable ecosystem? Why or why not? Be specific.
Yes. The abiotic components added are water, carbonate rocks. The biotic components are algae, algae-eating snails, and the bacteria suspended in the water. algae will perform photosynthesis as it takes the carbon dioxide and water to produce carbohydrates and oxygen. The algae-eating snails will then take this oxygen and eat the algae for food to produce carbon dioxide and water during respiration. The process of photosynthesis and respiration are linked as the cycle begins again. The bacteria in the pond water will decompose dead matter and take the oxygen and organic matter to produce carbon dioxide and water. The water and carbonate rocks acts as reservoirs for carbon. sustainable ecosystem because the processes and resources that occur inside the ecosystem balance themselves out. Sustainability means that the systems are able to flourish and survive for a long term without depleting any resources or components.
What are the unique properties of water that make it necessary for life? How do changes in the hydrological cycle affect ecosystem function? Climate change?
Hydrogen bonds holding water molecules together (exists as a liquid over temperature ranges; high boiling and melting point, high surface tension) high heat storage capacity protect organisms from temp changes, regulates climate, universal solvent (dissolves nutrients in to tissues, clean), low density as ice so ice floats. We take large amounts of freshwater from lakes and aquifers faster than nature can replace it , clear vegetation for land(depletes aquifers, shrink lakes, decreasing water flow, wetlands) (along wit water pollution degrades water quality, reduce fish population). Water cycle has hastened due to global warming, making wetlands wetter with floods, dry places drier with drought, and storms.
How can mankind supply the freshwater to support its population's needs? Where do greater Boston residents get their water? Where does this water go? With what affect on coastal ecosystems (Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay)?
Freshwater unequally distributed. Withdrawing groundwater, building dams and reservoirs, transporting surface water, and converting saltwater to freshwater. MWRA's water comes from the Quabbin Reservoir. Goes to electric power plants, irrigation, industry. Sewage not properly disposed of thru treatment plants. Results in water pollution and water shortages. Pathogens, chemicals in coastal ecosystems.
What are some types of water pollution? Where do they come from? What do they harm? How can we "fix" this problem?
B.) eutrophication—excess nutrients increase algae, fast growing, choke out clear, slow growing species. Comes from runoff of nutrients, reversing it by removing algae and water clarity. Advanced waste water treatment, removing weed, pumping air
D.) Acid Rain— burning of fuels adding nitric oxides and return as damaging acid rain. Acid resistant species preferred, indicator fish die. Changing the way we burn coal.
E.) Oil Spills - tanker accidents and blowouts at offshore oil drilling. Runoff from land. Coat feathers of birds, hydrocarbons kill in contact. Cleaned up by mechanical means, prevent spills and leaks with regulations and new technology.
How has Boston Harbor gotten "cleaner"? What evidence can you show?
Measurements of clarity in the harbor indicate that water clarity has improved since the early '90s. Secchi depth. This is the depth at which a white disk, a Secchi disk, lowered into the water is no longer visible. Larger secchi depth. dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water was too low. We now know that. DO levels in the harbor were high enough to support healthy marine life. (7 mg/L). Reversed eutrophication, small amounts of algae, water clarity improves.
Draw a water treatment plant and explain the various components. A septic system? A natural wetland?
Primary sewage treatment (physical) - screens and grit tank to remove large objects and allow sediment to settle. Settling tank where sludge settles. Sludge goes to drying bed where its disposed in landfill or cropland.
Secondary sewage treatment (biological) - removes biodegradable, oxygen demanding wastes.
Advanced treatment - chemical and physical to remove specific pollutants (chlorine disinfection tanks to kill bacteria)
Septic system - Settling tank where oil rises, solid falls and decompose. Wastewater discharged into large drain field through small holes in perforated pipes in stone/gravel below soil surface. Soil filters pollutants and decompose materials.
Natural wetland - Algae and microorganisms decompose wastes and aquatic plants take up nutrients. Marsh with sand and gravel filter out algae and remaining waste, some plants absorb toxic metals and kill pathogens. Zooplankton consume microorganisms. Filters and cleans water.
Draw the CO2 concentration versus time at Mauna Loa for the last 5 years. What are the major features? Explain them.
Carbon dioxide has increased constantly over time, due to the increased amount of carbon dioxide emissions from human activities. fluctuations because of seasonal changes. Carbon dioxide high in levels during the colder seasons, and low during the warmer seasons. due to plants being more active in the warmer seasons as they perform photosynthesis more frequently with increased sunlight. Plants take in more carbon dioxide than usual, which results in the low levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The opposite occurs during the colder seasons as there is more respiration. Respiration occurs result of microbes decomposing fallen leaves and other dead organisms, releasing more carbon dioxide than usual.
Write the chemical equation for photosynthesis. Write the equation for respiration. What are autotrophs? Heterotrophs?
Photosynthesis 6 CO2 + 6 H2O + (energy) = C6H12O6 + 6 O2
Respiration C6H12O6 + 6 O2 = 6 CO2 + 6 H2O + (energy)
Autotrophs are producers, make nutrients they need from compounds and energy from environment. Heterotrophs are consumers that get nutrients from feeding on other organisms.
What three major factors control productivity? What is a limiting nutrient?
Energy, nutrient cycling, gravity. limiting nutrient would be an element that is essential to the species in it but is found in a concentration low enough to be a limiting factor on the population (abundance or lack thereof controls the maximum population of the species)
An example of this would be iron in the ocean, it's abundance or lack thereof in an area controls how much phytoplankton can bloom.
Give an example of an efficient marine food chain, a long marine food chain, and a terrestrial food chain.
Long - phytoplankton, krill, fish, penguin, seal, whale, humans
Terrestrial - grass, mouse, snake, eagle
Efficient marine - one celled bacteria, shrimp, fish, shark
Draw a diagram representing the carbon cycle. The nitrogen cycle. How is man affecting these cycles?
CARBON: Producers remove CO2 from atmosphere/water to perform photosynthesis to produce glucose. Cells in producers, consumers, and decomposers perform respiration to produce carbon dioxide in atmosphere. Process circulates. Decomposers release carbon dioxide too. Rervoirs in water, sediments, etc. Cars, deforestation, forest fires, burning fossil fuels adds large amounts of CO2 in atmosphere and enhances greenhouse effect, altering rate of energy and nutrient flow/depleting nonrenewable resources. NITROGEN: Nitrogen fixing bacteria in water/soil converts N2 (gas) to NH3 (ammonia). NH3 converts to NH4+(ammonium ions) in which plants use as nutrients. Or convert to NO3-(nitrate ions) thru nitrification for roots to take and plants use to form compounds (proteins, vitamins). Animals and decomposers eventually eat these and get the nitrogen compounds. They relase it back to environment thru poop or their bodies. Decomposer convert back to NH3/NH4+. Denitrification bacteria convert back into No3- and then N2 back in atmosphere. Burn fuels, using fertilizers adds NO(nitric oxide) to atmosphere and can be returned as acid rain. Remove N2 faster the cycle can replace. Excess NO3- in ocean thru fertilizers.
What is a species? What is an ecological niche? What are specialists and generalists? Define indicator species, native species, introduced species, and keystone species. Give examples.
Species - Group of organisms that has a unique set of characteristics that distinguish it from other groups of organisms. Niche - Total way of life or role of a species in an ecosystem, includes all physical, chemical, and biological conditions that a species needs to live and reproduce in an ecosystem. Generalist - broad niches that can live in many places, eat variety, and tolerate a wide range of conditions (flies, humans). Specialist - narrow niche live in one type of habitat, few types of food, tolerate narrow range of conditions (panda). Indicator species - species that provide early warnings of damage to a community (decline of this population like birds indicate presence of parasites, disease, pollution). Native species - species that normally live and thrive in particular ecosystem. Introduced/nonnative species - species that migrate into, or deliberately/accidentally introduced to an ecosystem (good like domesticated flowers or bad which compete with other species). Keystone - species whose roles have a large effect on the types and abundance of other species in an ecosystem (loss of them can lead to population crashes).
What are three ways in which different species interact. Define each and give examples from both the plant and animal kingdoms.
Mutualism - two species behave in ways that benefit both by providing each with food, shelter, or some resource. E.g. pollination of flowers by bees that feed on the nectar. Birds ride on backs of buffalo and remove/eat parasites and pests.
Commensalism - interaction that benefits one species but has little, beneficial or harmful, effect on the other. Pitcher plant attached to tree branch without harming the tree (feeds on insects that become trapped in it). Birds nesting in trees.
Parasitism - when one species (parasite) feeds on another organism (host), usually living on or inside host. Mistletoe plants suck nutrients from trees or blood sucking lampreys on fish.
What is an ecosystem? How does energy flow through an ecosystem? What is the 10% rule?
One or more communities of different species interacting with one another and with the chemical and physical factors making up their nonliving environment. Sun, producer, primary consumer, tertiary consumer by photosynthesis, consumption, decomposition. Decomposers decompose every level. Decrease in usable energy at each tropic level. 90% loss due to loss of heat from second law of thermodynamics, so each level only gets 10% of energy from the previous level.
Why does high biodiversity allow an ecosystem to adapt to large environmental changes? How do you measure biodiversity?
Good because if there the variants are wide and large, not as vulnerable to environmental changes like disease, destroyed habitats. Wide variety of niches and species can adapt to large changes, so an ecosystem will not die out of organisms, rely on each other to live and build balance in nutrient cycles and energy flows. Stability and increase resistance. Counting number of species in specific ecosystems, observing different land times like water and desert.
Recommended textbook explanations
Environmental Science: Sustaining Your World
G. Tyler Miller, Scott E. Spoolman
Holt McDougal Environmental Science
Karen Arms, Michael R. Heithaus
Environmental Science: Your World, Your Turn
Jay H. Withgott
Eldon D. Enger
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