Patterns in Nature Essay

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8.2 A Local Ecosystem 8.2.1: The distribution, diversity and numbers of plants and animals found in ecosystems are determined by biotic and abiotic factors • Compare the abiotic characteristics of aquatic and terrestrial environments An aquatic environment is one that consists in water. The abiotic characteristics of an aquatic environment include o Viscosity – This refers to the thickness of the medium in which the environment is located, and its ability to resist internal movement through it. For example in an aquatic environment, the medium is water. It is much more difficult to travel through water than it is through air. This is why many aquatic animals have streamlined bodies so that they can move through the water easily. o Buoyancy – This refers to the upward pressure (or thrust) that is applied on the organism by its medium. Buoyancy is determined by the density of the medium and determines the floating ability of an organism. Water provides sufficient buoyancy for many organisms, eg, seaweed, which has many “leaves” which are, supported in water for maximum sunlight exposure, out of water it collapses. o Pressure – This is the downward force that is applied on an organism by its medium. In water, the pressure is dependant on the depth. Organisms that live at the bottom of the ocean experience the effects of extreme pressure and they must have specific adaptations that enable them to survive in such harsh environments eg. Stingrays. In air the pressure is dependent on the height above sea level, in humans who live at high altitude have a higher level of haemoglobin in their blood to compensate for the lower level of oxygen in the air. o Temperature Variations – Usually in an aquatic environment there are minimal temperature variations compared to terrestrial environments. But this depends on the size of the body of water.

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