Lesson 4 Comparing Ecosystems - Home - SharpSchool 4 Comparing Ecosystems Great Egret at Lake Martin, ... Compare and Contrast Different DifferentAlike Technology ... Desert INDIAN OCEAN ATLANTIC OCEAN PACIFIC OCEAN ARCTIC OCEAN Equator

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    260ENGAGE

    Lesson 4

    Comparing Ecosystems

    Great Egret at Lake Martin, Louisiana

    When you visit a lake or wetland ecosystem, you see certain types of plants and animals. What if you visited a desert or grassland ecosystem? Would you see the same kinds of organisms? How does one ecosystem compare with another?

    LS.26 Identify and describe ecosystems of local importance (LS-M-C3) LS.27 Compare common traits of organisms within major ecosystems (LS-M-C3)

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    masking tape

    long piece of white butcher paper or chart paper

    reference materials

    crayons and colored markers

    index cards

    How do different ecosystems compare?PurposeEarths major land ecosystems include taigas, tundras, rain forests, deciduous forests, deserts, and grasslands. Do all ecosystems have the same kinds of plants and animals? Research the characteristics of one ecosystem, and draw a mural to represent it.

    Procedure

    Work in groups of four or five. Each group should select one ecosystem to study.

    Tape the paper to the walls of the classroom.

    Research the ecosystem your group has selected. Find out about the ecosystems location, climate, soil, plants, and animals.

    Make a Model Draw a mural that represents your ecosystem. Show at least two plants and two animals that live in the ecosystem. Include a world map that shows the locations of the ecosystem.

    Communicate List on index cards the information you collected, and attach the cards to your mural. Indicate where you obtained the information.

    Draw Conclusions

    Compare Compare your groups mural to the other groups ecosystem murals. What similarities and differences do the plants and animals in the ecosystems seem to have?

    Explore More

    Compare various food chains in the ecosystems. What are the main producers in each? What are the main consumers?

    Materials

    Step

    261EXPLORE

    SI.3 Use a variety of sources to answer questions (SI- M-A1) SI.19 Communicate ideas in a variety of ways (SI-M-A7)a

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    262EXPLAIN

    How do ecosystems compare?Take a look out your window. If you are in

    Louisiana, you might see wetlands, Kisatchie National Forest, or the ocean. If you are in Arizona, you might see a desert. In Iowa the scene outside your window is likely to be a golden grassland. Each environment is an ecosystem. Recall that an ecosystem is all the living and nonliving things interacting in an environment.

    A biome (BIohm) is one of Earths major land ecosystems, with its own characteristic animals, plants, soil, and climate. Climate is the average weather pattern for a region. How is a biome different from other habitats? You can think of a biome as a set of habitats or ecosystems all grouped together into a kind of super-ecosystem.

    There are six major land ecosystems: taiga (TIguh), tundra, desert, grassland, rain forest, and deciduous forest. A particular type of biome may be found in different parts of the world. For example, desert biomes exist in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Antarctica, and the Arctic.

    Essential QuestionWhat are the characteristics of different land and aquatic ecosystems?

    Vocabularybiome, p. 262

    wetlands, p. 269

    estuary, p. 269

    Reading Skill Compare and Contrast

    AlikeDifferent Different

    Technology e-Glossary, e-Review, and animations online at www.macmillanmh.com

    LS.26, LS.27

    Louisiana Ecosystems

    American alligators are adapted to live in swamp and wetland ecosystems.

    Brown pelicans live mainly near saltwater ecosytems, such as bays and oceans.

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  • Ice

    Tundra

    Taiga

    Deciduous forest

    Tropical rain forest

    Grassland

    Desert

    INDIANOCEAN

    ATLANTICOCEAN

    PACIFICOCEAN

    ARCTIC OCEAN

    Equator

    30 N

    30 S

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    263EXPLAIN

    Earths ecosystems are not just restricted to land. There are also water ecosystems. Most of Earths surface is covered by water. Water ecosystems may be freshwater, saltwater, or a mixture. Ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands, estuaries, and oceans are all water ecosystems found on Earth.

    Areas closer to the equator receive more direct sunlight than areas closer to the poles. For this reason, ecosystems near the equator are rich with plants and animals, while fewer organisms live in Earths polar regions.

    Climate affects living organisms. Most organisms are adapted to living in one particular regions climate. That is why you would not find a penguin in the Gulf of Mexico or a bald cypress tree in the Arctic.

    Some ecosystems, such as tropical rain forests, are warm and wet, while other ecosystems, such as tundras, are cold and dry. Ecosystems often have different types of soil. Desert soil is usually nutrient-poor, and grassland soil is nutrient-rich.

    Where are tropical rain forests usually located?

    Clue: Around what range of latitudes is this type of major land ecosystem most often found?

    Quick Check

    Compare and Contrast How are ecosystems similar? How are they different?

    Critical Thinking In what kind of ecosystem do you live? Explain.

    Earths Major Land Ecosystems

    Read a Map

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    264EXPLAIN

    What are tundras, taigas, and deserts?Only about 25 centimeters (10 inches) of precipitation fall in tundra ecosystems each year. Tundras cover about one-fifth of Earths land surface. In the Northern Hemisphere, tundras circle the land just south of the North Pole.

    TaigasTaigas are found south of the

    northern tundras. Taiga is a Russian word meaning forest. A taiga is a cool forest of cone-bearing evergreen trees.

    Taigas in the Northern Hemisphere stretch across parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Taiga winters are cold, and the short summers are warm, wet, and humid. Summer conditions encourage insects to reproduce. The huge insect population is a rich food source that attracts many migrating birds, such as the Siberian thrush. Life on the taiga is limited to the species that can survive the rugged winters. These include low-growing lichens and mosses; trees such as pine, spruce, and hemlock; and animals such as rodents, foxes, wolves, and ravens.

    taigatundra

    Biomes such as tundras, taigas, and deserts have harsh climates. They may have extremely hot or cold temperatures or very little precipitation. These conditions limit the types of plants and animals that can live there.

    TundrasTundras are found in far northern

    regions. These ecosystems have very cold winters and short summers. A tundra is a cold, dry biome that includes a layer of permanently frozen soil called permafrost. Sometimes permafrost is only 1 meter (3.2 feet) below the surface. The permafrost layer prevents trees and large plants from developing deep roots. However, lichens, mosses, grasses, flowers, and low shrubs with shallow root systems can grow above the permafrost.

    Tundras support fewer species than most other biomes, and some areas are covered with ice. However, some species thrive there, especially during the short summers when the top layer of permafrost melts and the ground is soggy.

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    265EXPLAIN

    DesertsAll deserts are drythey receive less

    than 25 cm (10 in.) of precipitation per year. Deserts are found on every one of Earths continents.

    Hot deserts have high temperatures, as their name suggests. The dry desert air contains little moisture to block the Suns warming rays. At night, the desert air can be cool because there is no cloud cover and the dry air loses heat easily after dark. When it rains, water often evaporates before reaching the ground. Occasionally short periods of heavy rain occur and cause flooding.

    One example of a desert biome is the Sonoran Desert, which covers parts of Arizona, California, and Mexico. It has organisms that are adapted to live in dry conditions. Plants that conserve water, such as the agave or the saguaro cactus, can survive there. Many species of insects, spiders, reptiles, birds, and burrowing animals are also adapted to life in the desert. They often rest during the heat of the day and become active when the temperature falls at night.

    The jerboa, a small rodent, is an animal that is well adapted to a desert biome such as the African Sahara. The jerboa rests during the day in a cool burrow and then comes out at night to search for food. This behavior protects the animal from the intense daytime heat. Additionally, the jerboas characteristic long leaps help it avoid predators.

    Some deserts have cold seasons, but other deserts are cold year-round. A desert is defined by the amount of precipitation in the area, not by its location or temperature. Cold deserts are found in places such as Greenland, central Asia, and Antarctica. Like tundras and taigas, these deserts have long, cold winters and short summers.

    desert

    Quick Check

    Compare and Contrast How are tundras and taigas similar? How are they different?

    Critical Thinking Explain why deserts might seem to have fewer animals during the day than other biomes do.

    Not all deserts are hot. Some deserts are located in cold regions near the South Pole.SI.18

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    266EXPLAIN

    grassland

    What are grasslands and forests?Before the arrival of immigrant

    settlers, much of North America was grassland or forest. Grasslands are biomes in which various species of grasses are the main form of plant life. In North America, grasslands are sometimes called prairies. In the late 1800s, thousands of settlers moved into the area of North America known as the Great Plains. They found large areas full of tall grasses. Before long, these tallgrass prairies were plowed under for farmland. Today, less than 1 percent of the original tallgrass prairies remain. Southwestern Louisiana has a small amount of coastal prairie that is similar to the midwestern prairies.

    Rainfall in grasslands is irregular and usually not plentiful. Temperatures are cool in winter and warm in summer. Some of the worlds most fertile soil is found in grasslands. For this reason grasslands are often used for farming. The roots of grassland plants hold soil in place. If the plants are removed, the soil can be blown away by winds.

    The plants and animals found in grasslands vary from place to place. In North America, herbivores such as bison, gophers, ground squirrels, and prairie dogs live in the grasslands. Carnivores there include coyotes, badgers, and black-footed ferrets. The grasslands of central Russia, known as steppes, have different animals, such as Siberian chipmunks and wild boars. The grasslands of Argentina, known as the pampas, are home to other kinds of animals, such as pampas deer.

    Deciduous ForestsFor only a few months each year,

    the deciduous (dihSIHjuhwus) forests in some parts of North America are bright with color. This is the time during which the leaves of the forests trees turn from green to the characteristic colors of autumnred, orange, yellow, and brownbefore falling to the ground. The term deciduous means falling off.

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    267EXPLAIN

    In deciduous forests, many trees lose their leaves during winter. With fewer leaves, less transpiration occurs, enabling trees to conserve water. This is important when rainfall is scarce and the ground is frozen. Deciduous trees include ash, oak, beech, hickory, and maple trees. Louisianas Kisatchie National Forest has many deciduous hardwood trees in its bottomlands.

    Deciduous forests are found in eastern North America, northeastern Asia, and western and central Europe. In these forests mosses, mushrooms, and ferns grow on the forest floor.

    Rain ForestsTropical rain forests are located

    close to the equator. The climate there is hot and humid. Tropical rain forests have abundant rainfall, often more than 2 m (6.5 ft) per year. This type of climate supports an enormous variety of species. Tropical rain forests are home to more species than are found in all other land biomes combined.

    Temperate rain forests are found in some Pacific Northwest areas, such as Oregon. Temperate means mild. Temperate rain forests have lower temperatures than tropical rain forests. However, they have plentiful rainfall. Temperate rain forests are also home to many different species.

    Although the species found in the two rain forest environments differ, some have similar roles. For example, the squirrel monkey lives in large troops in the tropical rain forests of South America. The talapoin, another monkey, lives in large troops in the tropical rain forests of central Africa. Both monkeys eat rain-forest fruits, seeds, insects, and eggs.

    deciduous forest

    Quick Check

    Compare and Contrast How are tropical and temperate rain forests similar? How are they different?

    Critical Thinking What do grassland biomes have in common with deserts?

    tropical rain forest

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    268EXPLAIN

    What freshwater ecosystems are found in Louisiana?

    Freshwater ecosystems exist within and around bodies of water that contain little salt. These bodies of water include ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands.

    Ponds and LakesIn most ponds and lakes, such as

    Lake Pontchartrain, the water does not appear to move. A layer of green algae might cover the waters surface. Plants there may include cattails, reeds, and w...

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