Ecosystem Equilibrium Overview
This standard focuses on how to assess evidence indicating Ecosystem Equilibrium tend to stay constant under stable circumstances, but may change fast and dramatically when conditions become unstable.
Here’s the Actual Standard:
Examine the assertions, evidence, and reasoning that ecosystems’ intricate interactions maintain relatively constant numbers and kinds of species under stable settings, but that changing conditions may result in the emergence of a new ecosystem.
Ecosystems are discussed in this standard under two scenarios.
The inputs to the lowest levels of the food chain stay steady under stable circumstances. Because all other life depends on the output of primary consumers, ecosystems tend to remain relatively stable as long as circumstances remain constant. Several biological ideas may be used to illustrate this notion.
We can show how predator-prey dynamics keep predator and prey populations in control using predator-prey dynamics. Take a look at how Lynx and Snowshoe Hare populations react to each other, for example:
In a delayed response, predator populations (in this example, Lynx) tend to reflect the prey population. The logic is that as prey numbers grow, predators will have easier access to food and will be able to reproduce more. This, on the other hand, boosts the predator population while pushing the prey population to new lows. These two groups continually push each other up and down in a steady environment. The graph above represents 100 years of continuous cycling.
The concept of cyclical population dynamics, on the other hand, may be applied to the whole ecosystem. Carrying capacity, or the maximum number of creatures that an ecosystem can support, functions in a similar manner. The population is reduced to below carrying capacity when animals surpass their carrying limit. The population recovers, and the cycle returns to a state of relative stability.
While humans have only been gazing at these “stable” settings for a few hundred years, the fossil record shows that rapid shifts may occur. Several biological processes demonstrate how significant alterations may totally transform an environment.
The disappearance of apex predators is one pretty straightforward “major change.” The “trophic cascade” has been seen in a variety of environments, ranging from coral reefs to evergreen forests. Using hunting as an example, this principle may be simply shown. Hunters have devastated wolf populations, allowing deer numbers to expand uncontrollably. As a result, deer are devouring a lot of seedlings and tiny plants, causing severe changes in the plant composition of their area.
Larger ecological calamities, such as volcanoes and the plastic issue, will have an immediate impact on many different trophic levels. Massive disturbances in everything from sunshine to freshwater result in the emergence of wholly new, and typically less productive, ecosystems.
A little clarification
This clarification statement is in the standard:
Modest biological or physical changes, such as mild hunting or a yearly flood, and dramatic changes, such as volcanic eruptions or sea-level rise, are examples of changes in ecosystem circumstances.
Let’s take a deeper look at this clarification:
Modest Biological or Physical Changes
There are instances of minor to major biological and physical changes all around our contemporary, globally linked globe. Plastics have been discovered in crustaceans at the ocean’s bottom; agricultural waste is causing dangerous algal blooms all over the world; and climate change is causing enormous environmental changes in many regions of the world.
Many of these changes have the potential to become dramatic, fundamentally altering the ecosystem. We can anticipate what the earth will look like after all the glaciers have melted and how high sea levels will rise using fossil evidence and data from glaciers, for example. This not only demonstrates how ecosystems adapt, but it also ties into the greater issues that humanity will confront as the world’s coasts recede.