An environment refers to the surroundings of an area.
Environments are different from place to place, and change with time.
Within environments you have different parameters that allow ecosystems
to maintain themselves. In order to restore or to make an environment
friendly again to native species, environmentalists need to
understand the entire ecosystem.
Although the media talks about chemicals being harmful
to our environment they fail to point out that chemicals make-up everything.
There are good and bad chemicals depending on how specific organisms react to them.
What is good for one species, might be harmful to other species.
can "control" an environment, and can also influence organisms that live
in that specific environment.
Major land and aquatic ecosystems require
the following components in order to be maintained.
- Sunlight - the ultimate source of energy for primary
producers, controls a photochemical process
- Inorganic substances - carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, minerals,
- Organic compounds - fats, proteins, carbohydrates
- Climate or weather - wind, water currents, temperature,
rain, snow, and humidity
- Producers - autotrophic organisms for most part green
plants, that capture sunlight, convert energy into organic nutrients, and
- Macroconsumers - heterotrophic organisms, animals for
the most part that eat other organisms or organic matter
- Microconsumers - decomposer organisms, largely bacteria
and fungi that break down the organic components of dead organisms
Notice that all the components are ultimately composed of
However, there are inorganic components that are "given" or specific to
an area. The ecosystem has to build itself on soil (organic matter
+ rock). Organic matter is carbon based, but rocks can be made
of a variety of chemical compounds which add character to a particular
soil. Remember, minerals make-up rocks, and minerals can be composed of
elements or compounds.
- Read Wetland in the City. You may want
to discuss some of the terms used in the story. Include:
a. Sag ponds are associated with faults
and where water can flow upwards.
b. Tule Ponds at Tyson Lagoon is an
urban flood control system. More information on the components of
its ecosystem can be found: http://msnucleus.org/watersheds/tule/tule.html
c. The characters represent
real people involved with development of Tule Ponds at Tyson
Lagoon. Richard Wetzig, a retired ecological engineer designed
Tule Ponds. Donald La Belle is the director of Alameda County
Public Works in California.
d. Tule Ponds may be older than 4000
years. It has seen many changes from large extinct mammals, Ohlone
Native Americans, Spaniards, and now the City of Fremont.
e. Engineer Richard learns about the complexities
of the interaction of biology with the physical state of the
ponds. He realizes that restoration takes a long time.
- Discuss all the information that Engineer Richard
needs to find out to really understand how to restore an impacted
area. If you have a local area that is being restored or needs to
be restored you might want to make a list of what needs to be considered
for restoration. It could be a local lake, stream, or wetland
- The worksheet is designed for students to look
at minerals. The students should use a periodic table if they are
not sure what the symbols stand for. ANSWERS:
1. Mg,Si,O,H; Cu; Ca,C,O;
2. Si,O; Pb,
S; Ca, F; Al; Ca, K, Si, O;
3. Ba, S, O; Si, O; Ca, C, O; Hg, S.
4. The soil in #3 because mercury is toxic to many organisms, especially