GULF OF MEXICO OIL SPILL

1.1 BIOME:
The Gulf of Mexico is a salt water aquatic biome that has been tremendously affected by the recent oil spill. Because of the toxic substance that is being exposed to this biome, many abiotic and biotic factors are being negatively affected. The biotic which are being threatened include: shellfish and crabs, nestling and migrating birds, dolphins, and sea turtles (which are endangered). Due to extreme weather, the oil is being directed towards the Louisiana shore, causing birds such as the Brown Pelican to be covered in very toxic oil, which then in turn will reduce or destroy the bird’s only source of insulation against the very cold temperatures. The abiotic factors that are being negatively affected by the oil spill are the water and the soil. Because of this disaster, many species are being forced to make a new adaptation to their new environment, but unfortunately for some of these species, they are unable to adapt quickly to their new surroundings structurally and behavior wise.


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1.2 ECOSYSTEM:

Since the toxic oil that spilled in the Gulf of Mexico floats on top of water, oxygen and sunlight are unable to penetrate into the water, therefore making it difficult for plants such as phytoplankton and seaweeds to produce photosynthesis and receive the nutrients they need in order for them to grow. The animals on the hand are the ones who experience the greater effects. First of all: birds are exposed to hypothermia due to the oil reducing or even destroying their insulation and water properties n their feathers. Wildlife higher in the food chain is poisoned due to large consumptions of other organisms that have oil present in their fat tissues. Because of the toxic substance that is leaking in the water, and spreading towards the shoreline, it is causing the egg shells of birds to become very fragile. And the oil is also damaging fish eggs, larvae, and very young fish.


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2.1 ENERGY FLOW IN ECOSYSTEMS:


Due to the thick film of oil floating on top of water, the plants underwater are not able to receive enough sunlight in order for them to grow, therefore causing a decrease in animals higher on the food pyramid. The oil that is able to penetrate deep into the water is consumes by bacteria, phytoplankton, and other bottom feeders, which is then eaten by small fish, crabs, and shrimps. This then, is consumed by larger fish such as the Red Snapper, and mammals such as sea turtles and dolphins. And because of that, there is going to be a decrease in the aquatic and terrestrial food chain.

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2.2 NUTRIENT CYCLE IN ECOSYSTEM:

Carbon is an important component in chemical reactions that assist in sustaining life in ecosystems. Photosynthesis is an important process in the carbon cycle. Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction that transforms solar energy into chemical energy that is used by plants. Because of the oil floating on the water, sunlight is unable to reach plants in the ocean bed; therefore, photosynthesis is unable to occur. Cellular respiration is the process in which both plants and animals release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere by converting carbohydrates and oxygen into carbon dioxide and water. Due to the film on top of the water, carbohydrates and oxygen cannot be converted into water and carbon dioxide. Decomposers are also a part of the carbon cycle. The job of decomposers is to release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, but due to the oil spill, the carbon dioxide is trapped in the gulf, and is not able to be released into the atmosphere.
Because of the actions of human beings, the rig exploded and therefore causing a major spill in the gulf. And it is not only the animals that suffer the consequences, we as humans, also suffer the consequences of our actions.

2.3 EFFECTS OF BIOACCUMALATION ON ECOSYSTEMS:


Bioaccumulation can have a negative effect on organisms. Some of effects due to bioaccumulation include: malformation, birth defects, and the inability to reproduce. Bioaccumulation does not only affect individuals, it can also have major effects on the ecosystem as a whole if the keystone specie is affected.

Biomagnifications is the process in which chemicals not only accumulate but become more concentrated, at each trophic level.
Bioremediation is the use of living organisms to do the clean-up naturally. Bioremediation in the Gulf of Mexico is possible, but the help of the human beings is going to be needed.
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3.1 HOW CHANGES OCCUR NATURALLY IN ECOSYSTEMS:


Natural selection is the process that makes changes possible in living things. Living organisms change as abiotic and biotic components in their environment change. Ecosystems are constantly changing. New species are either added into the environment, or some species become extinct. The types of species vary in ecosystems, due to the constant change in the abiotic components in the ecosystems. Because of the recent oil spill in the gulf, foreign species have been introduced to the gulf. Therefore causing the natural species to begin making new adaptations.

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3.2 HOW HUMANS INFLUENCE ECOSYSTEMS:

As the population of humans continue to increase, so does the trade industry and agriculture. With the increase of the trade industry and agriculture, the exploitation can result in habitat loss and soil degradation. The resource exploitation such as mining can have a devastating effect on the ecosystem, by contaminating the underground water and the surface waters. Contamination is the introduction of chemicals, toxins, wastes, or micro-organisms, into the environment, in concentrations that are harmful to living things. And that is exactly what had occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. There had been toxic substances that have been leaking uncontrollably into the gulf. And this harmful substance is having a devastating effect on the living organisms.


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3.3 HOW INTRODUCED SOECIES AFFECT ECOSYSTEMS:
Invasive species have the potential to change the ecosystem dramatically. Introduced invasive species tend to compete against the native species for resources such as food. Predators which are introduced to a new environment has a more dominant impact on prey predation \, as the prey may not be able to adapt fat enough, in order for them to escape and fight against them. Introduced invasive species are able to make the natural habitat very uncomfortable for native species by changing the structure and composition. And that is what had taken place in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the oil spill, the native species are left to feel very uncomfortable in their new environment because they are not use to it, and they have not adapted to their new environment.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Collins, Jeffery Huge underwater oil plumes found in the Gulf of Mexico
June 7, 2010,
http://commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/16-1
Fominyen, Gwendoline The effects of oil spills on aquatic life and environments
June 7, 2010,
http://pollution-control.suitelol.com

The aquatic biome June 7, 2010
http://www.ucmp.berkley.edu/exhibits/biomes/aquatic.php




COMMENT ON WIKI SPACE
Using the wiki spaces had been a great experience. I like the fact that we are given an assignment and we are able to post it online. But personally, I prefer to work on paper because, posting the assignment on line cane be very complicated. I just find it easier to research and then put my project on a poster board.