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Balancing Ecosystems

This letter highlights the dangers associated with invasive species to Sparksville’s and Glimmerville’s aquatic ecosystem balance. An ecosystem balance is defined as a state of equilibrium that exists in a certain community of living things in which the species, genetics and the ecosystem diversity remain unchanged over time (Marcia, 2011). From Episode 1, a number of reduction factors and growth factors which impacted the ecosystem are evident. The reduction factors are mainly climate change and natural calamities. Climate change has put a threat to the survival of many species around the world. Notable natural calamities include floods and volcanic eruptions. Growth factors identified in the Episode include sunlight, soil nutrients, precipitation, and soil configuration.

Invasive species may negatively affect the ecosystem in a variety of ways. Since they reproduce rapidly, invasive species have in some areas replaced or reduced the native species to worrying levels. Secondly, invasive species can change the ecosystem processes such as predator-prey dynamics. In case native species are not able to compete with the invasive species, they may become extinct in such areas (Marcia, 2011).

Succession is also evident in Episode 1. Succession can be affected by invasive and native species. For example, invasive species may move in a new area that did not have an ecological community such as an exposed rock face (Corrigan, 2014). In addition when an invasive species is removed, the native ecological community may once again regain dominance in the area and in the process restoring natural selection. Invasive species may impact the natural selection of the native species within a habitat. In most cases, invasive species introduces new competition for available resources within the habitat. When the invasive species outcompetes the native species for resources, the native species may reduce in numbers or even become extinct in that particular habitat.

Energy flow in an ecosystem occurs between various organisms and their environment. The sun acts as the primary energy source. Plants acquire energy from the sun through photosynthesis. This energy is used for growth and reproduction. This energy flows to herbivores when they feed on plants. The energy is in turn transferred to carnivores when they feed on herbivores (Corrigan, 2014). When invasive species are introduced in a certain habitat, they may eliminate the native species. Invasive species increase quickly because they do not have natural predators. When invasive species reduces native species in the producer level, flow of energy into higher levels may be impacted. For instance, invasive species which reduces algae in an aquatic environment may drastically affect the flow of energy in higher living organisms.

There are a number of possible solutions to the Grass Carp invasion problem that Glimmerville can adopt.  First, the use of shock treatment technology can restrict the movement of the invasive species in aquatic environments such as rivers (Haugen, 2013). This method involves building electrified barriers in rivers that cubs the movement of the invasive species. The main advantage in using this technology is that it allows an individual to target the specific invasive species only while leaving the others undisturbed. On the downside, the technology has generated public safety issues as individuals getting near it can get electrocuted. Use of bio-acoustic fish fence (BAFFs) can also be used to keep away invasive species from lock entrances (Haugen, 2013). This main advantage of this technology is that it can be used to selectively allow native fish too pass through the lock entrances and keep away the invasive Grass Carp. The major challenge with the use of this technology is the high implementation costs.  In addition, the technology is not effective in cases where the river flows at high rates (Haugen, 2013).

Chemicals can also be used to control the Grass Carp. New research is looking into the viability of new fish toxicants delivered in new matrix. For instance, Antimycin A, a known fish toxicant may be engineered in a new way to target the invasive species (Haugen, 2013). The major benefit is that chemicals are cheap to use. On the downside, use of chemicals may harm other fish species. Lastly, physical barriers such as vertical drops can be put up in the course of the river. This is a cheap way of controlling fish but may also interfere with other fish species.

Humans should strive to maintain ecosystem balance so as to avoid the catastrophic results of an imbalance which often arises in form of harm to the physical environment, extinction of species and even negative health consequences on man. For example, an imbalance in the ecosystem can cause disappearance of important species. Sustainability ensures that life support systems are maintained through sustainable balance of ecosystems.

References

Corrigan, D. H., & Webster University. (2014). Environmental Missouri: Issues and         sustainability : what you need to know. New York, NY: St. Louis Mo.

Haugen, S.C. (2013). Preventing the Invasion of Asian Carps. The Journal of Science Policy and             Governance, 5(4), 12 – 26. Retrieved from             http://www.sciencepolicyjournal.org/uploads/5/4/3/4/5434385/preventing_the_invasion_            of_asian_carps.pdf

Marcia, S. M., & World Conservation Union. (2011). Selective fishing and balanced harvest in    relation to fisheries and ecosystem sustainability: report of a scientific workshop        organized by the IUCN-CEM Fisheries Expert Group (FEG) and the European Bureau    for Conservation and Development (EBCD) in Nagoya (Japan), 14-16 October 2010.           Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.

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Balancing Ecosystems paper
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Balancing Ecosystems paper
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Balancing Ecosystems -This letter highlights the dangers associated with invasive species to Sparksville's and Glimmerville’s aquatic ecosystem balance.
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