Final Project : Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

(1.1) Every environment has biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) elements. Section 1.1 introduces eight terrestrial biomes: Boreal forests, Deserts, Grasslands, Permanent ice, temperate deciduous forests, temperate rainforest, tropical rainforest, and the Tundra. The Gulf of Mexico is primarily a salt water biome. Biotic organism such as sea turtles, fish, and water birds inhabit there and are suffering greatly from the oil spill because it is spawning season. Biotic elements such as the warm water currents carry oil to the shorelines of Louisiana. Coastal mammals and aquatic organisms are having a difficult time adapting to the oil and as a result many animals are dying.

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(1.2) Ecosystems :
Biomes can consist of many ecosystems. Ecosystems are parts of a biome which abiotic components interacts with biotic components. For example, ecosystems have biotic components such as oxygen, water, nutrients, light, and soil that interact with abiotic organism such as animals and plants. Symbiotic relationships occur in ecosystems such as:

Commensalism: one species benefits and the other is not harmed or helped

Mutualism: both organisms are helped by relying on each other for survival

Parasitism: one species benefits and the other is harmed

The oil spill and ruined the water ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico. Many organisms are dying because of the pollution and aren’t reproducing. Water is a necessity to life and with the waters now being contaminated; organisms aren’t receiving the nutrients and food they need to survive. Habitats for organisms are being destroyed, organisms are dying and not consuming other organisms and the whole ecosystem gets thrown off balance.

& 2.2) The flow of energy from an ecosystem to an organism and from an organism to another is the term known as energy flow. Plants are known as producers and organisms are known as consumers. During photosynthesis, the producers produce food in the form of carbohydrates which then, consumers consume. Organisms assist to this cycle of energy flow in a process called decomposition which is the breaking down of organic wastes and dead organisms. Decomposers then change the wastes and the dead organisms into usable nutrients again which is made accessible from soil and water for organisms to use again.

Food chains, pyramids and webs

Food chains are models that show the flow of energy from plant to animal and animal to animal. Food chains are broken in trophic levels. The levels are starting from the bottom are: primary producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, and tertiary consumers. Detrivores are consumers that their energy and nutrients from every trophic level by eating dead bodies, plant matter and animal wastes. Food pyramids are similar to food chains but instead of showing the flow on energy, it shows the loss of energy from one trophic level to another.

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Three important nutrient cycles are:
The carbon cycle
The nitrgogen cycle
The phosphorus cycle

Since the oil spill has contaminated many organisms and their habitat, other organisms haven’t been able to use each other to get their nutrients. The carbon cycle is the most impotents cycle for the aquatic ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. With the oil spill being 85% carbon, it decreases the major route for nutrient transfer. Because of the leaked oil, the aquatic plants can’t use photosynthesis to produce nutrients for the smaller organisms that end up dying because of no nutrients which then leads to bigger organisms dying from no food.

(2.3) The oil spill has a very big impact on bioaccumulation, bioremediation, and biomagnification. Bioaccumulation is the gradual build up of chemicals in living organism. Chemicals can enter organism through food intake, skin, and respiration. Biomagnification is the process where chemicals accumulate and become more concentrated at each trophic level. So in other words, if oil enters an organism that organism can be affected greatly and even possibly die. If the oil has time to accumulate in that organism and a higher trophic level organism decides to consume it, it has now accumulated into a more concentrated chemical and bioremediation is harder to anchor.

(3.1 , 3.2 , 3.3)

Ecological succession is changes that take place over time in the types of organisms that live in an area. There are two types of ecological succession.
Ø Primary succession: occurs in an area when no soil at all exists.
Natural events such as after a volcanic eruption, a new rock can from after lava has cooled.
Ø Secondary succession: occurs where a result of a disturbance to an area that already had soil or was once home to living organisms.

On the other hand, secondary succession is the only one that is affected by the oil spill. When the oil reaches land, the soil will be affected and will force organism out of their habitats. The oil spill will also harm many native species in that area. Invasive species could arise in the ecosystems also and cause depletion of the native species.

Humans influence ecosystems greatly. We use many of the world’s resources. From deforestation, agriculture, fishing and oil drilling, we have caused a lot of harm to our environment. Overall, it is humans fault for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and because of this many ecosystems have been corrupted and even destroyed. Many Organisms have suffered from habitat loss and lack of nutrients. Oil is a big part of our world and will never be rid of, all we can do is try to condense the amount being drilled or used.

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Comment :
I think using wiki spaces is an interesting new way of doing projects. I like that it’s easy in a way to just type everything out and post it. The only downfall I see is that it needs more layout formations to make the page look neater. Overall, It’s a good new idea, but personally I like doing projects on poster boards, presentation, etc.
<Mcgraw-Hill Ryerson>
- 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill
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- Gushing oil Threatens Wildlife, Gulf Ecosystem

TOPIC 3: What changes can society make in order to deal with the problems associated with climate change?

Climate change is expected to affect society, economies, and the environment. Human activity is a big contribution to climate change. We have all heard of things such as global warming and greenhouse gases and how they are affecting our planet and even though these topics come up often, people still don’t understand what really is going on with our planet.
Climate describes the average conditions of the atmosphere in a large region over 30 or more years.
Climate change refers to the changes in long-term weather patterns in certain regions (ex. northern hemisphere). Human activity contributes to climate change by causing changes in Earth’s atmosphere in the amounts of greenhouse gases, aerosols (smaller particles), and cloudiness. A large known contribution comes from the burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide gas to the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases affect climate change by changing incoming solar radiation and outgoing infrared radiation that are a part of earths energy balance. Greenhouse gases consist of Carbon Dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons. Deforestation and natural processes such as the decay of plant matter releases carbon dioxide. The scientific community is worried about the human contribution to climate change caused by greenhouse gases.

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There are many easy things we can do to help our climate, like :

v Walk or bike instead of driving in a car. Even public transit. Many cars and trucks run on fossil fuels, which if you didn’t know releases carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.

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v Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. These light bulbs are energy-efficient because they reduce the amount of fossil fuels that utilities burn.

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v The most important thing we can do is recycle and use recycled products. Products made from recycled materials use less energy to manufacture than products made from completely new materials.
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