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Energy Flow and Nutrient Cycling in Salamander Populations - Book Report/Review Example

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In the paper “Energy Flow and Nutrient Cycling in Salamander Population” the writes discusses the role of salamander population in the ecosystem function. The findings of the study show that Salamanders are efficient (60%) at converting ingested energy into new tissue…
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Energy Flow and Nutrient Cycling in Salamander Populations
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Energy Flow and Nutrient Cycling in Salamander Populations
The article “Energy Flow and Nutrient Cycling in Salamander Populations in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, New Hampshire”, by Thomas M. Burton and Gene E. Likens, discusses in length the role of salamander population in the ecosystem function. The findings of the study in this article show that Salamanders are efficient (60%) at converting ingested energy into new tissue and produce more new tissue annually than do bird populations. However, Salamanders are insignificant agents as "sinks" for nutrients or as agents for nutrient cycling in the ecosystem. Calcium content of salamanders is greater than that of most of their invertebrate prey. Salamander tissue is higher in protein content than that of birds and mammals and represents a source of high-quality energy for potential predators. Salamanders have restricted home ranges and are not significant agents in the movement of nutrients into or out of the system.
The need for studies into the significance of various species in the ecosystem is a generally acclaimed thing. But detailed study of animals and their roles in the functioning of the ecosystem which would help in the evaluation of their preservation as specie is not very often seen. This article is unique in its own right, for the reason that it includes the two principles which rule the functioning of the ecological system and those are-the thermodynamic flow of energy and the circulation of materials. The inclusion of both these laws simultaneously in the study allows us to compare the ecosystems while also evaluate the importance of populations of diverse sizes. Nutrient input and outputs of six small watersheds of the forested and mountainous region of New Hampshire have been measured since 1962 for the purpose of this study. Furthermore, the description of the vegetation and its role in energy fluxes and nutrient cycles provide a unique opportunity to assess the role of animals in inter and intra-ecosystem nutrient cycling and energy fluxes. Also, the general ecology, hydrologic and nutrient relationships, productivity and vegetation of the Hubbard Brook Forest have been described in detail in the study. Since generally studies of such detailed observations are rarely done, an article providing special insight into the role of animals (salamanders) in nutrient cycling in the ecosystem while also examining their role in the energy flow is an effort warranting much appreciation.
The human activities on this planet are causing the extinction of many a species and particularly that of the amphibians. Though, the decline in amphibian populations and the loss of some species has spurred research into the causes of this decline, little research has been done on ‘what’ the loss of amphibian species my mean to the ecosystem function. The changes in salamander abundance for instance could have large effects on ecosystem processes, particularly nutrient cycling. In this respect the contribution of the study and article on the role of salamander population in the ecosystem function involving the Hubbard Brook Forest which is home to about five major species of the salamander is a huge contribution in terms of the evaluation of the amount of loss which the humans will incur if these amphibians were to reach extinction due to human activities.
References
Burton, T.M., & Likens, G.E. (1975, Summer). Energy flow and nutrient cycling in salamander populations in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. Ecology, 56(5), 1068-1080. Read More
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