Life on Earth

1. Select an Australian ecosystem of your choice to research. Present your information about this ecosystem using the following:

a) Name the selected ecosystem.

Grassland-temperate grassland

b) With respect to the general five abiotic factors, describe the special environmental conditions of the chosen ecosystem.

The five general abiotic factors are:

  • Sunlight
  • Water
  • Soil
  • Temperature &
  • Oxygen

Temperate grasslands are characterized by hot summers (38° C) and cold winters (-40° C).  Over the course of the year, the temperature range is very large. The temperate grasslands have deep and dark soil with fertile upper layers (Robinson, 2009). It is rich in nutrients as a result of the growth and decay of deep, many-branched grass roots. These roots hold the soils together and provide a source of food for living plants (Werner, 2001).

In this ecosystem, Precipitation usually occurs in the late spring and early summer. The annual average ranges from 50.8 to 88.9 cm (20-35 inches). The amount of annual rainfall influences the height of grassland vegetation, with taller grasses in wetter regions. The ecosystem has excellent sunlight penetration which permits photosynthesis and constant supply of energy (Lodge, 2004; Smith, 2004).

The presence of fauna and flora ensures a constant supply and exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

c) List 8 organisms living in the selected ecosystem that rely on each other for survival

  • Producers

Grasses

Shrubs

  • Herbivores

Hares

Gazelles

  • Carnivore

Opossums

Hawks

  • Omnivore

Humans

Badgers

d) Select four organisms listed above and describe an adaptation

Grass

The extensive rooting systems of grasses allow them to recover quickly from grazing. Some grasses are tough which limits the number of animals that can feed on them.

Gazelles

Their ability to feed on the grass makes them to be well adapted in the temperate grasslands. They have adapted to be able to run swiftly away from danger (McCulloch,2008; Powell, 2008).

Carnivores like he opossums have a long, thick, hairless, and very talented tail which can wrap around things and hold onto them.

Badgers have very powerful legs, partially webbed toes and extremely long front claws. The fore claws grow faster than the rear jaws and they have the potential to dig a hole in a very short time like a minute in order to get some security place to hide in case of any danger.they are believed to be among the species with very efficient hearing ability and they can also smell very easily.

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2. Choose one example of an endangered or threatened species of fauna in Australia in the last 200 years.

The kangaroo that lives in the tree known as the Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo.

a) Describe one possible reason for its crisis situation in Australia.

This species is only found in Northeastern Queensland’s rainforests which unfortunately are fast disappearing because of land clearing.

b) Suggest an appropriate conservation method to protect the species

Conservation of Queensland’s rainforests will be a sure way of preserving the animals’ habitat.

This can be through legislation and protection of forests. The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is the legal framework for the protection of threatened species

3. Australia has unique fauna. Provide a possible explanation for how these fauna may have evolved and flourished here in Australia over the many millions of years, and not elsewhere.

The uniqueness of Australia's fauna is the relative scarcity of native placental mammals. Instead, the marsupials—a group of mammals that raise their young in a pouch, such as possums and dasyuromorphs—occupy many of the niches (Macintyre, 2007; Mott,2004). Placental animals occupy elsewhere in the world. Australia also has more venomous than non-venomous species of snakes. This high can be attributed to the continent's long geographic isolation, tectonic stability, and the effects of an unusual pattern of climate change on the soil and flora over geological time.

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