Humans in the Ecosystem Process
Humans in the Ecosystem Process
Humans are part of the ecosystem process and they contribute to it in different ways. They alter the ecosystem by removing some organisms, destroying others, and contributing to the addition of other organisms in the ecosystem. Humans are omnivores and are in the second and third trophic levels, in that they consume both plants and animals. The first level belongs to the primary producers, which are the plants. Herbivores rank in the second level since they consume plants. Carnivores rank in the third level since they consume the herbivores. Humans depend on different plants for their food. Some supplement their diets by consuming different animals such as cows and goats. In some regions, people consume animals as the main diet. Although there are different plants available for people’s consumption, humans have disrupted the natural food chain by using agricultural methods such as agriculture, which limit biodiversity. Monoculture involves the planting of a single crop on a large scale. Humans have to clear land in order to plant food crops, and this destroys biodiversity. Humans clear the land of unwanted crops such as weeds and inedible crops, which contribute to biodiversity. They have to use different methods to ensure that the plants grow rapidly and that they are free from pests and diseases. This means applying different pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides, all of which have an impact on the ecosystem. Humans feed on different animals. They may do this through hunting or rearing the animals in their homes. In most cases, people rear the animals in their homes or farms. They use different methods to ensure that the animals breed quickly. This has disrupted the food chain in different ways. For instance, cattle no longer graze in the fields where there is an abundance of plant variety. They are sheltered and confined in small spaces, where they are fed processed foods and given different medications to hasten their growth.
Humans use the resources in the ecosystem in different ways, and they return the materials to nature in different forms. For instance, humans depend on water for many processes, be it in agriculture, industry, or domestic use. They get the water from different water bodies such as rivers. They then use the water and return it to nature, as part of a product or a form of waste such as sewage and industrial waste. Humans contribute to the renewal of such waste into usable form. For instance, they treat the waste and return it to nature in a usable form. Humans are consumers of different products within the ecosystem. They consume different plants and animals as sources of food. Different materials move through the ecosystem as they are produced and consumed. Some of the necessary elements in an ecosystem include carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Humans use these elements in different ways, which can harm the ecosystem or benefit it in different ways. Human activities have contributed to the increased levels of carbon in the atmosphere, and this has in turn affected the environment in different ways. Recent concerns about global warming have led people to take an active role in encouraging environmental protection, and this has in turn led to measures that aim at reducing carbon levels in the atmosphere.
Humans use energy in different ways. They use some energy in its natural form, but they have to transform some of the energy in another form so that they can use it. The process of transformation leads to a loss of energy. Energy goes through different processes of transformation. Initially, energy enters the ecosystem as light energy from the sun, and the plants transform it to chemical energy through photosynthesis. The plants release the energy not needed as heat energy. There is less energy as one moves through the trophic levels as energy is lost through heat or respiration. Plants use the sun’s energy to make food, which is a necessary process for the survival of different organisms in an ecosystem. They capture the energy from the sun and transform it into usable compounds. Some human activities limit this. For instance, the presence of smog reduces the amount of sunlight reaching the earth, meaning that there is less energy for the plants to use. This affects the organisms in the atmosphere. Some energy is lost after consumers release it as heat. Respiration from consumers causes the release of some minerals, which are necessary for plant growth. Plants are the primary producers, and they can only get the energy they need from the sun (Marten, 2001).
Humans are part of the ecosystem, although they sometimes act like they own the ecosystem. This is clear in the way that people choose to use different parts of the environment once they occupy a place. Humans have used the land for their own pleasure and they have forgotten or dismissed the importance of maintaining the land in its natural form. They have used the land in such a way that they only plant what they want to see in their farms, and they get rid of every other organism they consider a nuisance, or which they do not understand its use. This has led to the destruction of some species, and it has led to the extinction of others. Human colonization of land refers to the increased control that humans have over land, and their alteration of the natural system (Geist, 2005). This has led to the intentional and unintentional change in the ecosystem, as humans try to make the ecosystems more suitable for the satisfaction of their needs. Humans colonize an area, and they are quick to use the resources as soon as they can, without considering the consequences. This is especially clear in the way that humans have used forests, which has contributed to deforestation, and in the way that humans use water. Through education and the negative environmental effects that people are experiencing, people have started to take better care of their environment.
Geist, H. (2005). Our earth’s changing land: An encyclopedia of land-use and land-cover change. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group
Marten, G. G. (2001). Human ecology- basic concepts for sustainable development. Sterling, VA: Earthscan