Leaf Litter Invertebrates in Pennsylvania Forest

Topics: Ecological succession, Ecology, Ecosystem Pages: 6 (2185 words) Published: January 29, 2013
Biodiversity of invertebrates found in leaf litter in the Solebury woods   
Introduction: We are trying to compare the biodiversity of leaf litter invertebrates in forested areas on each side of the horseshoe trail on Solebury School’s campus. Each area has significantly different ecological histories. Leaf litter invertebrates are essential to the forests wood web. At the base off the food web are the main producers which would be trees or shrubbery. Then there are the primary consumers that eat the trees and shrubbery. Next there are the secondary consumers that eat the primary consumers. Finally there is top carnivore that is at the top of the food chain and doesn’t get preyed upon. The leaf litter invertebrates that we are found would most likely be detritivores. Detrivores eat dead plant and animal matter, as well as feces. Together with the aid of microbial decomposers detritivores break down dead organic matter and return it to the soil so the food chain may continue (Raven, Hassenzahl, and Berg 50). Biodiversity has provided many services that have humans have utilized in order to make a better world and it importance should not be overlooked.  The medical industry relies on biodiversity for research and resources to make new medications.  For example advances in the treatment of osteoporosis, diabetes, renal disease and cardiovascular disorders all came from studying bears.  Also research on cetaceans has been used to help divers when they suffer from decompression sickness. Maintaining biodiversity isn’t just vital used for research when developing medicines but many plants and animals are also used in the production of many medicines.  Some plants that are used are Digitalis plants, which are consumed in the making of Lanoxin a cardiac drug, anti-cancer drugs use taxus trees to for Taxol and Hycamtin which is made from Camptotheca trees. One example of when an animal is used is when Zincontide, and inter alia pain killer is made from the toxin of a cone snail. Infectious disease can also be quelled by having a healthy environment with lots of biodiversity.  However, with human interference with ecosystems disease can be given a greater chance to spread.  In fact a few of recent outbreaks of infectious disease have been linked with human influence in animal trade biodiversity and the improper usage of land making it unable to support life. Natural disaster may even occur if there is a significant loss of biodiversity in an area. Desertification and dry land salinity have both been linked with the destruction of habitats. It has been seen that even though every one is affected by a loss of biodiversity, impoverished unindustrialized rural communities will be affected most. This is because a lot of these communities depend greatly on their surrounding ecosystem to provide them with their means of living. Thus if we were to invest in sustainable biodiversity management through out the world then it would be a great benefit for humanity (“The importance of biodiversity to human health”). When an ecosystem is greatly disturbed or destroyed it must go through an orderly process that is generated by the ecological community in order to initiate the colonization of a new habitat.  This progression is known as ecological succession.  An example of when ecological succession is needed is when there is human interference in an ecosystem.  Some examples of this would be logging, excessive hunting and clearing areas to make way for agriculture.  Human interference can either totally destroy a biological community or alter it so that other ecosystems more suited to the newly created conditions move in.  Yet the destruction of ecosystems also happens naturally through fires, storms and floods (Marten).  An example ecological succession can be seen in Japan when short grasses or small annual flowers move into an area that has been disturbed or cleared away.  This stage of succession is...
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