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LITE4_study_guide - Study Guide Chapter 4 - Biodiversity...

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Study Guide – Chapter 4 - Biodiversity and Evolution The American alligator is an important keystone species in southern wetland ecosystems, and has made a significant comeback since the 1960s. It contributes significantly to the Louisiana economy, and continues to provide many ecosystem services in Louisiana’s coastal marshes and freshwater swamps. Biodiversity is a renewable resource, and as the book says, includes not only the planet’s species, but the linkages among those species, the ecosystems they live in, and the ecosystem processes (energy flow and nutrient cycling) and services that keep these populations productive. Species diversity is important, but genetic diversity may be even more important; the variability in the genetic composition of individuals within populations is the basis of evolution and adaptation to changing environmental conditions. Ecosystem diversity is obvious as you look around the world at the various biomes and aquatic life zones on the planet - all of these ecosystems contain unique and potential important (to the ecosystem and to us, either directly or indirectly) organisms that need to survive if the planet is to continue to function as it has for thousands of years - remember stewardship? As such, biodiversity is more than an esoteric concept for ecologists - it is critical to how the Earth functions and adapts to change. Functional diversity is also important, how all of the biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem interact with one another. Maintaining all of these diversities is a cornerstone of conservation; we have a responsibility to future generations to protect our biodiversity heritage. Earth’s biodiversity resulted from 3 billion+ years of evolution , the process whereby Earth’s species emerge, change, and become extinct. Charles Darwin and Russel Wallace proposed natural selection as the process whereby organisms become adapted to a particular environment and thrive. Small environmental changes probably do not alter species too much, as the genetic diversity within populations allows them to persist. However, as environments change rapidly, or new species evolve from genetic mutations, some individuals will survive better and produce more offspring, hence future generations will resemble the more “fit” individuals, and species, communities, and ecosystems change. As you can see in Figure 4-3, we now classify organisms into 6 kingdoms, 2 prokaryotes and
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This note was uploaded on 05/10/2011 for the course RNR 1001 taught by Professor W.kelso during the Spring '08 term at LSU.

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LITE4_study_guide - Study Guide Chapter 4 - Biodiversity...

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