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Riparian Zone Environmental Analysis Essay

The temperature of the Riparian zone affects the physical and the chemical properties of the water and largely influences the organisms affecting their feeding, metabolic rates and reproduction. It also affects how much oxygen can be dissolved in the water and how quickly the nutrients will be cycled through the water. Oxygen is better dissolved in cold water because gases are trapped by water molecules at colder temperatures. When temperatures rise, the molecules move around more, and gases, such as dissolved oxygen are able to escape.

In ecology, abiotic components are nonliving chemical and physical nvironmental factors in the ecosystem that influence and affect the organisms living within it (Dictionary. com, 2009). Biotic factors are created by living organisms within the environment which are affected from the interaction of organisms. Such factors are predation, mutualism and commensalism (Biology Online, 2014). As you can see in the graph of Air temperature in and outside the riparian zone (as seen in the graph) it is clear that the temperature inside the riparian zone is cooler than the outside.

You can see that the air temperature does not rise that uch inside the riparian zone therefore indicating that there is enough vegetation and shade to keep the air temperature constant. There are many issues that can and are affecting the water temperature of ecosystems. Bulimba creek could be affected by a few such as the removal of riparian vegetation – when vegetation is removed along waterways there is less shade and the water heats up faster and activities that cause a stream to become shallower and wider – deep, narrow channels stay cooler than shallow, wide channels.

The water temperature of Bulimba creek was an Average of 20. °C. According to http://extension. usu. edu/waterquality/htm/whats- in-our-water/temp, the maximum water temperature for a healthy waterway is 20 °C therefore indicating that Bulimba creek is just on the edge of having a healthy water temperature. Water temperature largely influences macroinvertebrates and other aquatic organisms. Macroinvertebrates, fish and amphibians are cold- blooded. The digestion systems and metabolic rates of these creatures are influenced by their surrounding temperature.

It rises and slows based on the surrounding temperature. On the off chance that the emperature changes too drastically, their digestion systems may not work their best, diminishing their capacity to imitate and survive. The pH scale ranges from 0-14 with 0-7 being acidic and 7-14 being alkaline. The normal pH level of distilled water is 7 (neutral) and the pH level for a healthy ecosystem is 6. 5. pH is a measure of alkalinity and acidity in the water and it also determines the solubility and biological availability (Howard Perlman, 2014).

As seen in the graph the pH levels of Bulimba Creek were fairly constant with an average of 6. 67 therefore indicating healthy water. If the pH level of the water is too acidic (below 6) this creates controversy between the organisms trying to survive. The acidity in the water will cause skin irritations to fish, and cause them to die. Also the shells of the snails deteriorate. It can break down the defensive bodily fluid layer that typically covers fish, abandoning them which makes them helpless against bacterial infection and contamination.

Water that is excessively soluble reasons non-dangerous alkali, making it impossible to because lethal. Fish may experience difficulty breathing. It can likewise influence the fish’s balances and tails, arming their development and making them look worn out. All living organisms need oxygen to survive. Changes in the concentration of oxygen affect the species that depend on oxygen-rich water, like man macroinvertebrates. Without sufficient oxygen they may die, disrupting the food chain. The range of dissolved oxygen normally arises between 1. 2mg/L.

The level of dissolved oxygen in Bulimba creek low with an average of 0. 92 mg/L. The living organisms in the water take up the dissolved oxygen and the bacteria use it for decomposition. When we visited Bulimba creek to gather data, there was an dor caused by low water flow resulting in algae. Algae can survive in low oxygenated water which slows the water flow even more. A result of low dissolved oxygen can be that the salinity level of the water is high. The salinity of the Bulimba Creek water has an average of 735 us/cm. This is very high.

The maximum salinity in a healthy waterway is 500 µs/cm which indicates that the salinity of Bulimba creek is too high. With a high conductivity level, less oxygen will be dissolved therefore resulting in organisms not able to survive. In typical circumstances, the roots of native lants absorb most water entering the dirt before it achieves the salt contained in groundwater underneath the plant root zone. On the other hand, widespread vegetation, poor area use, irrigation and modern practices have made it easier for salt to be transported to the dirt surface or to waterways.

BIOTIC DATA When I visited the creek, we did not find many living organisms besides water dragons, snails, dragonflies, flies, mosquitoes and toads. Water snails love to live in dirty, muggy water and by finding those at Bulimba creek, indicates that the health of the water isn’t that great. Also a lot of tadpoles were found swimming in the water but no fish. Fish need clean fresh water to survive but with the salinity, turbidity and lack of dissolved oxygen it makes it almost impossible for any fish to survive.

The fish would develop skin irritation and then their gills would start to malfunction therefore contributing to the fact that the water is unhealthy. Based on the quadrats and transect line, the weed Wandering Jew has covered most ground of the area level to the creek. According to the Queensland Government (Business and Industry), the plant is established in moist, shady areas which upports the abiotic data that I have found. It also out-competes native vegetation along streams and gullies which causes a significant difference in the type of plants that will be able to survive.

It is spread by water, machinery, vehicles and dumped garden waste therefore demonstrating that the use of machinery or the development of agriculture will affect the outcome of the ecosystem. Also, there is a huge amount of leaf litter that is found in the area level to the water. This shows that the soil is moist therefore there being a greater amount of organisms. Whereas in the area above the water level, there is ess leaf litter and more guinea grass. Guinea grass is able to thrive in different conditions but is mainly able to survive in dry hot conditions.

And by looking at the table, of soil quality above, it is clear that the soil above the water level is less moist and is very dry. As you can see in the graphs, it is clear that there are trends and interrelationships present. Firstly, the percentage of light on the forest floor. As the light percentage decreases towards the end of the day, the temperature and the dissolved oxygen levels of the water decrease also. This happens because when there is ot enough light to penetrate through the water, therefore the decomposing matter on the base of the water bed cannot release much oxygen.

Secondly, the quality of the soil inside and outside of the riparian zone greatly effects the species and amount of organisms. Starting with the inside of the riparian zone, the soil quality (indicated in the table above) is quiet well maintained. The soil texture is moist and small particles are present, therefore indicating a large amount of humus. With the amount of humus in the soil, this provides the opportunity for more organisms to be present, the ability for the absorption of ater to be greater consequently creating a higher level of minerals in the soil.

This effects the temperature of the air inside the Riparian Zone also. With the soil being moist, it indicates that there is shade and that the air temperature stays at a constant temperature without changing drastically – as seen in the graph. The most coverage shown by the quadrats is the Wandering Dew – which establishes in moist shady areas (Queensland Government – Business and industry portal 25 November 2015). Outside of the riparian zone is quite the opposite. The soil texture is small grains and dry which shows a ow mineral level and a weakened drainage capacity adding to the likelihood of erosion.

With these characteristics, there is a definite low level of humus, therefore providing a habitat for plants that can survive in dry conditions. As shown in the quadrats, Guinea Grass is the main organism covering the outside riparian zone. Guinea Grass establishes in dry warm areas (http://weeds. brisbane. qld. gov. au/weeds/guinea-grass), typically where erosion has occurred and has shallow roots. With the quality of the soil, it proves that the soil can only hold shallow rooted plants.

Looking at the graph of air temperature inside and outside the riparian zone, it shows that the temperature outside the riparian zone is warmer than the temperature inside the riparian zone – therefore adding to the fact of soil quality and plant growth. Also, the animals present at Bulimba creek seem to be all organisms that suit a warm, moist ecosystem. From finding all the organisms inside the riparian zone, it proves to the fact that it is a moist and suitable habitat for a few organisms. The organisms found are; water dragons, snails, dragonflies, water snails, flies, mosquitoes and oads.

Water snails love to live in dirty, muggy water and by finding those at Bulimba creek, indicates that the health of the water isn’t that great. Also a lot of tadpoles were found swimming in the water but no fish. Fish need clean fresh water to survive but with the salinity, turbidity and lack of dissolved oxygen it makes it almost impossible for any fish to survive. The fish would develop skin irritation and then their gills would start to malfunction. No large mammals were sited during this field study consequently indicating a lack of appropriate vegetation for animals to consume.

To improve the quality of the field study, I believe that it would be necessary to collect data for more days over a long period of time. By doing this, the averages and quality of the data would be finalised and more precise. Because I have collected data over 3 days, the quality would not be very precise therefore effecting the outcome of the results. During the course of this field study, I have found that Bulimba creek is not a healthy waterway therefore resulting in there being a lack of biodiversity in the ecosystem.

Due to the high salinity, low dissolved oxygen levels and quality of the soil, past agricultural production and constant flooding, the ecosystem cannot be a habitat to many animals and may become unhealthier if not looked after. DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL – AGRICULTURE Judging by the data and results I have come found, I strongly believe that you, the Council, do not approve the development for Bulimba Creek. As in the past, Bulimba creek was used for agriculture, it has been badly effected resulting in an unhealthy waterway and lack of biodiversity.

It has been effected in many ways such as soil and water quality. Globally, agriculture contributes an estimated 14 percent of total anthropogenic Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the Stern review on the economics of climate change, (Annex 7. g Emissions from the agriculture sector www. hm-treasury. gov. uk. /media/2/7/ annex7g_agriculture. pdf) Agriculture was responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2000. Climate determines which crops can grow in an agricultural ecosystem (e. g. , precipitation, temperature, winds).

With frequent flooding at Bulimba Creek, the changes in soil moisture greatly affect the quality and quantity of plant growth. Deforestation and land use, including clearing forests for crops and livestock, contribute an additional 19 percent. Major sources of GHG emissions from agriculture include synthetic fertilizers, cattle belching, livestock waste and fossil fuels for farm machinery. The heavy application of insecticides (a type of pesticide intended to control insect pests) and other agricultural chemicals can have unintended impacts on biodiversity.

Insecticide use can have harmful impacts to beneficial organisms, including pollinators and predators of pests. The extent to which agriculture specializes in producing a narrow range of crops and animals has lessened the genetic diversity of our food supply (domestic biodiversity). Land, soil and nutrients are key factors that are often linked in agricultural management practices. For example, the health of an agricultural ecosystem depends on the way the land is used, the quality of the soil and the input and output of nutrients. Erosion is a big component which effects agriculture and an ecosystem. When erosion occurs.

It removes the top soil in which the most productive part of agricultural purposes are – therefore resulting in lower yields and higher production costs. Also, it reduces the ability to store water and nutrients, exposes the subsoil which has poor physical and chemical properties and the loss of newly planted crops increase. Bulimba creek has been badly effected by erosion specifically outside of the riparian zone due to being a walking track and also having very little leaf litter and as seen in the table, the soil quality is poor therefore not being able to carry water and being able to be moved easily.

If the proposal is put into action, Bulimba creek will suffer greatly from the impacts of agriculture. The water quality will worsen, the constant temperature and soil moisture inside the riparian zone will change and become warmer and dry because of the land clearing needed for the procedures involved. Also, there will need to be constructions to block and prevent flooding when it rains. This may affect the wildlife from entering their ecosystem, resulting in losing that particular organism in the ecosystem incessantly.

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