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Patterns in a Changing Landscape

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Patterns in a Changing Landscape

  1. 1. Patterns in a Changing Landscape Ecology and Sustainability Instructor-Delia Malone November 21, 2013 By: Jason E Evitt Figure 1-Patterns in Nature (Davidavičiūtė, 2012)
  2. 2. Figure 2-Mud Cracks (Carsten, 2010) The landscape of the planet is in constant movement, creating and responding to patterns and processes. High pressure and temperature liquefy molten lava around a solid core in the center of the Earth. This viscous rock is pushed and squeezed into cracks in the tectonic plates and eventually breach the mantle of the Earth to form mountains and new substrate. Tectonic plates that form the base and foundation of the continents are moving, colliding and creating geologic formations along the way. Faults fracture, mountains rise and landscapes change. Pressurized, high temperature water from inside the Earth is forced through fissures and faults, many times bringing life giving circumstances to otherwise bleak conditions. Rocks and sediment erode from mountains and flow via the rivers and streams to the sea while forming new beaches and islands along the way. Eroding, degrading rocks break down to form soils that accumulate on the more gentle gradients of the valleys and flat lands while providing habitat for vegetation and the life- sustaining primary producers. Water flowing from higher elevations takes the path of least resistance to the sea providing the system of delivery of this invaluable resource needed by every living organism. This process is enabled by the hydrologic cycle, which is the flow of water in its different physical stages around the Earth in a closed loop system. There are many other cycles on the Earth such as the carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle and the soil specific nutrient cycling system involving a veritable jungle of microorganisms in the soil with interactions and patterns not unlike the interactions we can see with megafauna, only on a very small scale. Vegetation is constantly moving and evolving with the changes of the climate and ecosystems. Disruptions such as fires, floods, avalanches, storms and many more constantly clean the slate and restart the patterns of succession and regeneration. Succession offers an example of one of the more important patterns and is a foundation of ecology. As disruption alters conditions on the Earth including via climate change, vegetation normally stays out front of change by evolving and adapting. Animals do the same; as environmental conditions change, as they always are changing in patterns, plants and animals adapt according to their fitness, which is influenced by the interconnected system of environmental factors including the variables of forage and temperature, which have a great effect on the fitness of plants and animals. This is known as natural selection and speciation and typically happens over a long period, and it reflects the patterns of the relationships in the biosphere.
  3. 3. Figure 3- Agricultural Crop Circles (NASA, 2011) Global warming is being affected by patterns of growth, development and consumption. When dealing with a closed system as is the Earth, when force is exerted in one direction there is an equal response in another direction. In this case, it is a rise in the average temperature of the Earth, which creates a cascade of effects for EVERYTHING. As we discover more and more about interconnections and symbiosis of living organisms, we discover more often that there is a drive and system of assistance for one organism to another. Trees are connected by a system of fungi that acts like a kind of conduit of communication and nutrient interaction. University of British Columbia professor Suzanne Simard explains, “There is an interface between the root cortical cells and the fungal cell that wrapped itself around that cortical cell and that is where this exchange is going on. So meters away you can have a plant connected to another plant and they are just shuffling carbon and nitrogen back and forth according to who needs it (Simard 2012).” Everything is part of a process. Everything is in constant motion; sometimes it is undetectable to the frame of human reference in each individual’s limited time here compared to some processes like geologic time. Nothing occurs randomly in nature and we must allow freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom to evolve at a manageable pace and scale. I have come to realize the importance of self-actualization and how important the “process” is to a true understanding and command of knowledge combined with experience. Without the process of learning and experiencing, knowledge is abstract, ethereal and sometimes ungrounded. Knowledge gained without experience can be a loose cannon. Alternatively, when there is a solid foundation with a sense of place and connection, wisdom can arise and a holistic understanding can be achieved. The patterns and processes of biodiversity in nature are subject to the overbearing, dominant role people play in the ecosystem. John Waterman stated that what he takes away mostly from his many amazing adventures and communion with wilderness and the wild is the resilience and determination of nature if given half a chance.
  4. 4. When anthropogenic disturbance is forced upon nature, it is often relentless and permanent under our constant maintenance. This is very different from natural disturbances that are usually temporary and swift such as fires, floods, earthquakes, avalanches and wind. Regeneration and rejuvenation can occur under normal patterns of disturbance and then repair. Global climate change and developmental infrastructure as a reaction to climate change, and to support population growth, are occurring at an abnormally rapid pace compared to the capacity for the environment to adjust, adapt, compensate, evolve or migrate. Patterns in nature have been altered by humans in almost everyway. Some examples of this are as follows: This reference illustrates anthropogenic impacts of humans on the planet: Consequences of Changing Biodiversity (Chapin et al., 2000). The abstract offers an idea of the scope of the impacts and focuses on the invaluable component of biodiversity: Human alteration of the global environment has triggered the sixth major extinction event in the history of life and caused widespread changes in the global distribution of organisms. These changes in biodiversity alter ecosystem processes and change the resilience of ecosystems to environmental change. This has profound consequences for services that humans derive from ecosystems. The large ecological and societal consequences of changing biodiversity should be minimized to preserve options for future solutions to global environmental problems (Chapin et al., 2000). This graph is from the Synthesis Report from: Climate Change 2007: An Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Barker, 2007). The report outlines climate change impacts around the world.
  5. 5. The following abstract from a report entitled “Structural Patterns and Biodiversity in Burned and Managed Aleppo Pine Stands,” touches on many topics we have discussed in class such as fire regime, native flora and fauna, forest management, ecosystem conservation, monitoring, patterns, diversity, distribution, structure and age diversity. Increasing anthropic pressure is making forest fires more frequent in the Mediterranean Basin and therefore affecting the response of native flora and fauna. Two large fires occurred in summer, 1994, in the Southeastern Iberian Peninsula. Aleppo pine, the main tree species, regenerated naturally after the fire. In this study we are interested in strategies for maximizing Aleppo pine tree recovery and conservation of its ecosystem. We performed thinning and pruning in the pine tree stands 5 and 10 years after the fire and took measurements on structural patterns and plant diversity using several indices. In addition, we measured macro-lichen and faunal diversity indirectly. Results show significant differences between treated-burned plots and untreated-unburned plots. The plots thinned 10 years after the fire and the unburned plots (mature stands) showed a regular, non-aggregated distribution and a low diameter differentiation. Also, these plots showed similar plant diversity values. The silvicultural treatments did not significantly affect the fauna and lichen index values. The high intensity of thinning and late pruning applied to young Aleppo pine stands improved the structural pattern and plant diversity (Moya, D., J. las Heras, F. López-Serrano, S. Condes, 2009). There are many patterns in nature. One could almost say everything is involved with patterns. Patterns and processes, structure and function, beavers and wolves; these are hallmarks of ecology and represent necessary attributes that allow conditions for the promotion of emergent properties and quantum connections. I didn’t even get to go into fractals which open the door to an entire universe of patterns. This is a neat video about the discoverer and namer of the world and word of fractals, Benoit B. Mandelbrot, IBM Fellow Emeritus and Fractal Pioneer. Fractals are best described in video: http://youtu.be/Ehwy4Gq27uY#aid=P-2A20SZU_k (Morris, 2013) I love patterns and appreciate the opportunity to research, discover more and practice articulating the ideas of patterns and connections. Ecology is the most poetic, articulate and holistic academic discipline I have encountered. I can’t believe how many of the patterns and concepts that are in ecology overlap into the rest of life. I feel my knowledge and understanding of the world around me has grown leaps and bounds in this class and Conservation Biology combined. The most important pattern I see in that process is the instructor-Delia Malone. Her eloquent and descriptive way of speaking is engaging, educational and infectious. I appreciate her contributions to my journey and I hope and plan to take the blessings she bestowed into the world for the betterment of things big and small, inclusive of all. Thanks, Delia!
  6. 6. Citations: Barker, T. (2007). Climate Change 2007 : An Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel  on Climate Change. (R. K. Pachauri & A. Reisinger, Eds.)Change, 446(November), 12–17. doi:10.1256/004316502320517344 Carsten, P. (2010). mud-cracks_9389_600x450.jpg (JPEG Image, 600 × 450 pixels). National Geographic. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/093/cache/mud- cracks_9389_600x450.jpg Chapin, F. S., Zavaleta, E. S., Eviner, V. T., Naylor, R. L., Vitousek, P. M., Reynolds, H. L., … Díaz, S. (2000). Consequences of changing biodiversity. Nature, 405(6783), 234–242. doi:10.1038/35012241 Davidavičiūtė, L. (2012). 35 Breathtaking Examples of Patterns in Nature | DeMilked. demilked. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.demilked.com/amazing- nature-patterns/ Morris, E. (2013). Big Brains. Small Films. Benoît Mandelbrot, The Father of Fractals | IBM. IBM; You Tube: Tumbler. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehwy4Gq27uY&feature=youtu.be#aid=P- 2A20SZU_k Moya, D., J. las Heras, F. López-Serrano, S. Condes, and I. A. (2009). Structural patterns and biodiversity in burned and managed Aleppo pine stands: EBSCOhost. Plant Ecology 200, no. 2. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://web.ebscohost.com.cmclibraries.coloradomtn.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? vid=2&sid=d4197b82-63fb-45c9-b163-9a79a0b68d2e%40sessionmgr198&hid=118 NASA. (2011). kansas-circles_1858585i.jpg (JPEG Image, 620 × 594 pixels) - Scaled (90%). Barcroft Media/The Telegraph. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01858/kansas-circles_1858585i.jpg Simard, Suzanne. "Trees Communicate With One Another, Connected by Fungi (Video)." TreeHugger. MNN Holdings, LLC, 19 July 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/trees-communicate-one-another- connected-fungi-video.html?utm_source=hootsuite>.
  7. 7. Citations: Barker, T. (2007). Climate Change 2007 : An Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel  on Climate Change. (R. K. Pachauri & A. Reisinger, Eds.)Change, 446(November), 12–17. doi:10.1256/004316502320517344 Carsten, P. (2010). mud-cracks_9389_600x450.jpg (JPEG Image, 600 × 450 pixels). National Geographic. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/093/cache/mud- cracks_9389_600x450.jpg Chapin, F. S., Zavaleta, E. S., Eviner, V. T., Naylor, R. L., Vitousek, P. M., Reynolds, H. L., … Díaz, S. (2000). Consequences of changing biodiversity. Nature, 405(6783), 234–242. doi:10.1038/35012241 Davidavičiūtė, L. (2012). 35 Breathtaking Examples of Patterns in Nature | DeMilked. demilked. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.demilked.com/amazing- nature-patterns/ Morris, E. (2013). Big Brains. Small Films. Benoît Mandelbrot, The Father of Fractals | IBM. IBM; You Tube: Tumbler. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehwy4Gq27uY&feature=youtu.be#aid=P- 2A20SZU_k Moya, D., J. las Heras, F. López-Serrano, S. Condes, and I. A. (2009). Structural patterns and biodiversity in burned and managed Aleppo pine stands: EBSCOhost. Plant Ecology 200, no. 2. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://web.ebscohost.com.cmclibraries.coloradomtn.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? vid=2&sid=d4197b82-63fb-45c9-b163-9a79a0b68d2e%40sessionmgr198&hid=118 NASA. (2011). kansas-circles_1858585i.jpg (JPEG Image, 620 × 594 pixels) - Scaled (90%). Barcroft Media/The Telegraph. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01858/kansas-circles_1858585i.jpg Simard, Suzanne. "Trees Communicate With One Another, Connected by Fungi (Video)." TreeHugger. MNN Holdings, LLC, 19 July 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/trees-communicate-one-another- connected-fungi-video.html?utm_source=hootsuite>.

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