Ecology Notes



In 1854 the Great White Chief in Washington, President Franklin Pierce, made an offer for a large area of Indian land and promised a "reservation" for the Indian people. Chief Seattle's reply, published here in full, has been described as the most beautiful and profound statement on the environment ever made.

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.

If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experiences of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man's dead forget the country of the birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juice in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man - all belong to the same family.

So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmurs is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.

We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his fathers' graves behind, and he does not care. His fathers' graves and his children's birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.

I do not know. Our ways are different from your ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.

There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the unfurling of the leaves in the spring, or the rustle of an insect's wings. But because it is because I am a savage and do not understand. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleansed by a mid-day rain, or scented with the pinion pine.

The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life if supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow's flowers.

So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition: The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.

I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffalos on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts are gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover - our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white. This earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on it Creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your own perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. The destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horse are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. The end of living and beginning of survival.

Chief Sealth (Seattle) of the Duwanish Tribe

Some Fundamental Understandings
Ecology is that branch of biology which studies the significant, simultaneous interaction of two or more complex living systems and the non-living environment. i.e. the study of the interrelationships of plants and animals to their environment, both living and nonliving Most science tends to be Reductionist whereby smaller and smaller units or entities are observed, analyzed, and correlated to existing knowledge. Ecology tends to be Holistic - i.e. it surveys the big picture and deals with the more difficult aspects of simultaneous interactions among and between living and nonliving components. THE ECOSPHERE AIR (Atmosphere) / \ / \ / Flora \ / ^ \ / | \ / Fauna \ / \ Lithosphere (Land)<----------------->Water (Hydrosphere) ECOLOGY'S FIRST LAW "Everything is connected to everything else." Some basic definitions: POPULATION - a group of individuals, usually of the same species, inhabiting (or inhibiting) a given area; usually a time frame reference is included. COMMUNITY - localized associations of several populations of different species; again a specific time frame reference is often included. ECOSYSTEM - the living community and the non-living environment functioning together as a living system; varying sizes from a puddle to a forest or biome. All are units of the BIOSPHERE - the portion on, above and below the surface of the planet which supports life. It is sometimes called the ECOSPHERE because of all the interactions occurring between the different segments.
THICKNESS OF THE BIOSPHERE mm Hg | | 235 | - 8840 meters Mt. Everest | 310 | - 7000 m vultures & eagles | AIR 1/2 atmosphere 367 | - 5800 m wild sheep & Ibex | 413 | - 4860 m Highest settlement | (Tibet) | 437 | - 4420 m Mt. Whitney, CA | 482 | - 3700 m Timberline | Colorado Rockies | | 620 | - 1920 m Mt. Washington, NH 25mm Hg/300 meters | | | ^ Rates of Change | 760 mm Hg = 1 atmosphere |---------------------------------------------------------------- Atm | | | 1 Atm/10 meters | 370 | - 3700 m average depth of | the ocean | 625 | - 6250 m 10 species of animals | taken by "Challenger" | WATER | | 1080 | - 10860 m greatest ocean depth | life forms noted

Requirements for the Maintenance of an Ecosystem An ecosystem will be self-sustaining if three conditions exist: 1. a constant source of energy 2. a living system capable of incorporating that energy and converting it into organic molecules 3. a means of recycling the organic molecules and inorganic nutrients It therefore follows that the overall stability of an ecosystem is maintained by three major mechanisms: 1. controlling the rate of energy flow through the system 2. controlling the rate of chemical cycling within the system 3. maintaining a diversity of species and food webs so that the stability of the system is not seriously affected by the loss of some species or food web links The living portion of the ecosystem exhibits a characteristic species structure: a few species represented by large populations (DOMINANTS) and many species represented by small populations. Species diversity contributes to community HOMEOSTASIS (dynamic equilibrium or balance) - the presence of many different kinds of organisms provide a reservoir (gene pool) of adaptive types able to withstand many change in the physical environment. The distribution of species into various HABITATS results from the interaction of their genetically controlled physiological tolerance limits and natural selective forces (including humans) represented by the environment. Nitrogen Sources in Water [Notes]
AMMONIA Occurrence - Ammonia is a product of the microbiological decay of plant and animal protein. In turn it can be used directly to produce plant protein. Many fertilizers contain ammonia. Significance - The presence of ammonia nitrogen in raw surface waters might indicate domestic pollution. Its presence in waters used for drinking purposes may require the addition of large amounts of chlorine in order to produce a free chlorine residual. The chlorine will first react with all the ammonia present to form chloramines before it can exert its full bactericidal effect. NITRITE Occurrence - Nitrite nitrogen occurs in waters as an intermediate stage in the biological decomposition of organic nitrogen. Nitrite forming bacteria convert ammonia under aerobic (aerated) conditions to nitrites. The bacterial reduction of nitrates can also produce nitrites under anaerobic (oxygen-free) conditions. Nitrite is often used as a corrosion inhibitor in industrial process water. Significance - Nitrites are usually not found in surface waters to a great extent. The presence of large quantities indicates a source of wastewater pollution. NITRATE Occurrence - Nitrate forming bacteria convert nitrites, under aerobic conditions, to nitrates. During electrical storms, large amounts of atmospheric nitrogen are oxidized to form nitrates. Finally, nitrates can be found in fertilizers. Significance - Nitrates in water usually indicate the presence of wastes in the final stages of biological stabilization or the presence of run-off water from heavily fertilized fields. Nitrate rich effluents discharging into receiving waters can, under proper environmental conditions degrade stream quality by encouring excessive algal growth. Drinking water containing excessive amounts of nitrates can cause infant methemoglobinemia (a substance formed in red blood cells that makes them useless as carriers of oxygen.) Source of information: U.S. Department of the Interior ----------------------------------------------------------------- N2 atmospheric nitrogen NH3 ammonia NH4+ ammonium ion - never found uncombined in nature NO2- nitrite NO3- nitrate

Ecological Succession may be defined in terms of the following parameters: 1) it is an orderly process of COMMUNITY development; it normally proceeds in a predictable, orderly direction; it represents the gradual replacement of populations by others that are better adapted to the conditions 2) it results from modification of the physical environment by the populations that interact to make up the community thus, succession is community controlled; the physical factors of the environment and climate determine the pattern and the rate of change; the climate and immediate environment often set the limit as to how far development can proceed 3) the end result of succession is a stabilized ecosystem which is in balance with the climate and environment of the area; under these conditions the maximum number of organisms (biomass) and their symbiotic (nutritional) interactions are balanced or maintained with the energy available to the system Thus, the "strategy" of succession as a short term process is very much like the strategy of long-term evolutionary development of the biosphere. It results in HOMEOSTATIC balance of organisms with the physical environment WITH THE BENEFIT of achieving a means of effectively dealing with the constant changes or perturbations presented by the environment. As an example of these changes and their effects: THE EFFECTS OF SUCCESSIONAL PHENOMENA AND ESPECIALLY OF OCCUPANCY BY PLANT COVER A. Effects upon SOIL 1. Moderation of drainage (deficient or excessive to regular) 2. Addition of organic matter as organism die 3. Improvement of structure (compaction or loosening) 4. Tapping or release of buried or bound elements B. Effects upon VEGETATION 5. Increase of coverage or biomass 6. Progressive utilization of layers above and below the soil line 7. Progressive increase of shade C. Effects upon MICROCLIMATE (Ground Level) 8. Attenuation or moderation of temperature extremes 9. Reduction of temperature and humidity fluctuations 10. Decrease of evaporation, at least near soil surfaces

     :			         :  Open water or saturated soil
  1. :  Rock, lava, bare soil    : (new ponds, islands, reservoirs)
     : 				 :
  2. :  Lichens, Cyanobacteria   :  Submerged vegetation
     :                           :  Floating vegetation
  3. : 				 :  (Water lilies, duckweed)
     :                           :  Emergent vegetation
  4. :  Mosses, annual grasses   : (Cattails, Bulrushes, Arrowweed)
     :  Grasses                  :  Mixed grasses
  5. :  Goldenrods, Asters       :  Sedges (triangular stems)
     :  Mixed herbaceous:        :  Mixed herbaceous:
  6. :  all of the types above + :  all of the types above +
     :  Queen Anne's lace, Dew-  :  Joe Pye weed, Boneset, and
     :  berry, Cinquefoil        :  other large perennials
     :  Shrub stage:             :  Shrub stage:
  7. :  Hawthorne, Carolina rose,:  Elderberry, Red-stem Dogwood,
     :  Staghorn sumac, Dogwood  :  Willows, Alder
     :  INTOLERANT trees:        :  INTOLERANT trees:
  8. :  Cherry, Aspen (Poplar),  :  Aspen (Poplar), Willow, Elm,
     :  White Pine, Jack Pine,   :  Ash, White Pine
     :  Grey Birch               :
     :  MEDIUM TOLERANT trees:   :  MEDIUM TOLERANT trees:
  9. :  Elm, Oak, White Pine,    :  Elm, Hickory, White Ash, Yellow
     :  Yellow Birch             :  Birch, White Pine, Red Maple
     :  TOLERANT trees: Basswood,:  TOLERANT trees: Basswood, 
 10. :  Hemlock, Yellow Birch,   :  Hemlock, Yellow Birch,
     :  Sugar Maple, Beech       :  Sugar Maple, Beech
Vegetation typical of the northeastern United States.

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