Understanding Eco-Regions

Part A

Tropical Rainforests

Sustainable use and conservation of tropical rainforests have received incredible publicity over the last decades. Almost every person has either seen or heard something about the massive extinction of tropical rainforests. However, the majority of people lack the basic understanding that the role of tropical rainforests is tremendously important, because they are the main sources of water, food, and fresh air. The given paper aims to shed light on tropical rainforests as one of the most significant eco-regions on the earth. Moreover, much attention will be paid to unique biological as well as geographical features of the region, factors that influence this eco-region, possible changes of this eco-region in the course of time, and many other factors that affect species and populations living in tropical rainforests.

In general, tropical rainforests are considered to be one of the most complex, significant, and, finally, species-rich ecological regions on the earth (Stone, 2015). It is important to note that tropical rainforests are located not far from Equator between the Tropic of Cancer, which is usually referred to as the Northern Tropic, and the Tropic of Capricorn. Average temperatures in tropical rainforests vary from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (Stone, 2015). Scientists differentiate four major unique layers of life in tropical rainforests, in particular the emergent, the canopy, the understory, and the forest floor. These four layers are distinct biological features that are used to categorize plant and animal life in this green eco-region full of life (Stone, 2015).

Experts engaged in the sphere of natural sciences estimate that tropical rainforests provide home for more unique plants and rare species of animals than any other vegetation type on the globe (Laurance, 2010). In other words, tropical rainforests are so-called living zoos and places of living for the largest and the smallest, the most dangerous and most endangered as well as the most beautiful and endearing animals, birds, and plants (Laurance, 2010). Tropical rainforests grow in very nutrient-poor soil conditions. Regardless unfavorable surrounding conditions, poor soil, and animal threats, tropical plants have adapted to threatening environment and developed a wide range of defensive strategies to be protected from animals as well as dangerous plants (Laurance, 2010). For instance, many plants are unpalatable and lethally poisonous to many other species of animals and plants. Tropical rainforests are a reliable home to thousands of unusual, rare, and unique mammals, reptiles, insects, fish, and amphibians (Laurance, 2010). All species of animals and plants have developed numerous effective adaptation and survival skills, especially claws and camouflage, in order to survive in dangerous physical environments (Laurance, 2010).

Despite the fact that tropical rainforests are referred to as the most biologically diverse ecological region of the Earth that provides numerous benefits to humanity, including enormous food, water, and fresh air supplies, there are numerous factors and challenges that put at risk this eco-region and threaten lives of thousands of rare species of animals and plants (Laurance, 2010). People have been destroying tropical rainforests for construction, agriculture, and many other unnecessary “improvements” that threaten this ecological region. Moreover, nowadays tropical rainforests are the main subjects of cattle ranching, logging, dams, and, finally, mining (Laurance, 2010).

Researchers emphasize that tropical rainforests are seriously affected by oil companies as one of the main sources of human exploitation and massive killing of rainforests (Malhi, Adu-Bredu, Asare, Lewis, Mayaux, 2013). Regardless of the fact that oil companies should meet numerous requirements and standards associated with preservation of tropical rainforests, companies that extract and produce oil do nothing to provide shelter to the diversity of species, preserve indigenous habitats, avoid soil erosion, use tropical rainforest resources in effective ways, and, finally, avoid emission of greenhouse gases that negatively influence lives of animals and plants in tropical rainforests (Malhi et al., 2013). These are the main factors that negatively impact species and populations living in this unique and complex eco-region (Malhi et al., 2013).

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As a result, having identified key biological features of tropical rainforests and evaluated the major threats that cause environmental degradation of this species-rich ecological region, it is possible to infer that tropical rainforests are unusual ecological and bio-geographical region. Since deterioration of tropical rainforests caused by oil production, mining, and agriculture is a pressing issue nowadays, people should struggle in order to combat these threats with the purpose to revive tropical rainforests and avoid further destruction of this ecological region that positively impacts climatic stabilization, promotes wildlife protection, serves as a unique source of wildlife products, and is one of the most significant natural beauties on the earth.

Part B

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is commonly referred to as the ANWR, is one of the largest and the most significant eco-regions in the world. The ANWR is characterized by rare and rich wildlife, unspoiled and fascinating wilderness, and unique cultural heritage that impresses people with its beauty. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is considered to be the most valuable and, at the same time, the most protected area around the globe. The given essay aims to describe this region, especially its unique features, value, and beauty. Therefore, the paper will discuss and assess positive and negative impacts of oil extraction on ANWR eco-region.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is considered to be the crown jewel and the irrefutable beauty of the National Wildlife Refuge System (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 2015). This unique wildlife refuge that is located on the territory of the Northeastern Alaska is considered to be the largest and the most valuable wildlife refuge on the territory of the USA. This refuge is located in six different ecological zones that cover the territory of approximately 200 miles (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 2015). Natural scientists state that the northern part of this wildlife refuge with numerous salt marshes, river deltas, and, finally, such inland water bodies as coastal lagoons of the Arctic coastal tundra provide home to numerous species of migratory waterbirds as well as fish, insects, and animals, especially polar bears and seals (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 2015). The southern part of this wildlife region is located in boreal forest eco-region. In general, Arctic coastal tundra is the largest eco-region that describes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 2015).

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Oil drilling is one of the most controversial and debatable topics that is directly associated with the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Kotchen & Burger, 2007). Despite the fact that the ANWR is characterized by unique wildlife, wilderness, and recreational functions and qualities as this refuge is almost uninfluenced by human beings, drilling for oil is the major risk factor that threatens health and security of this refuge in the USA (Kotchen & Burger, 2007). Researchers estimate that oil extraction negatively impacts the ANWR ecological region because of potential negative influences on the ecosystem of the refuge. To begin with, drilling for oil may have detrimental effects on wildlife, including animals and plants (Kotchen & Burger, 2007). Second, drilling processes in ANWR may cause adverse impacts of possible oil spills on arctic soil and its properties, including mineralogy, moisture status, and many other important qualities (Kotchen & Burger, 2007). Third, oil extraction threatens not only land covers but also Arctic tundra vegetation. Researchers stress that economic benefits of oil drilling do not outweigh its possible disastrous consequences, because drilling does not correspond to the intention of people who contributed to the creation of the ANWR (Kotchen & Burger, 2007).

Thus, having evaluated the significance of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and reviewed the impacts of oil extraction on the territory of this national treasure, it is possible to summarize that the economic benefits of drilling do not outweigh the possible threats, because drilling in this region will promote human addition to oil, stimulate climate change, and will destroy one of the largest and the most beautiful wilderness areas in the world.

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