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On this website you can explore the ways living things interact with the environment. An ecosystem is an environmental community functioning as a unit. The Earth is one large ecosystem. Another ecosystem can be as small as a pond or as large as the world's oceans. Different ecosystems are usually divided by landforms such as rivers, deserts, or mountains. In an ecosystem, all the parts work together: Atmosphere, light, heat, water, and living organisms. Subjects discussed on this page include: Water Everywhere, Getting Some Sun, Give Me a Little Air, Life in a Lake, Getting Down and Dirty, and The More the Merrier.
Study Jams - Ecosystems
Find out why rain is necessary for keeping a forest or other ecosystem healthy. Explore abiotic factors like rain, sun, minerals in the soil, and temperature. Discover how these factors help biotic factors like plants, animals, and bacteria survive. Investigate how plants help the ecosystems and learn how animals and bacteria help plants thrive. See if you can identify the roles of different factors in the ecosystem and how they work together in an ecological community.
Travel to three different places in the world to find out how ecosystems are being damaged. In Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil you will see three different animals and learn how each species is endangered due to the actions of people. Once you accept a mission you will learn about the ecosystem and about work scientists have done in the area. Read field reports, see photographs and meet science explorers. See how you can explore ecosystems close to your own home.
Plants, Animals, and Ecosystems
For plants and animals to thrive, they often need specific temperatures and patterns of rainfall. If the climate where they live starts to change, they might migrate to a different place or at a different time. Plants may bloom earlier, and animals might come out of hibernation sooner. Plants and animals that live on mountaintops or in the Arctic might not be able to find an environment that's cold enough. Many will adapt, but others will become extinct. Coral reefs are being lost from warmer ocean temperatures and higher acidity.
Desertification affects the well-being of millions of people worldwide. This site explores desertification on three levels, from a brief summary of questions and answers to more detailed information and primary source material. Study how desertification impacts provisions, water and climate regulation, cultural values, and the long-term impact of the environment on humans. Examine the importance of a culture of prevention in reducing desertification, climate change, and biodiversity loss. Gain a better understanding of the threat of desertification by learning about thresholds, poverty, and urban impact.
Coming: The sixth mass extinction?
Mass extinction events have occurred five times in the past, with three-fourths of Earth's biodiversity being lost in a relatively short period of geological time. Species extinction is again accelerating, this time due to pollution and humans exploiting natural resources. In the next few hundred years, we could reach that critical loss in biodiversity that qualifies as a mass extinction event. Human activities have made species vanish at an unprecedented rate. Scientists learn about which species became extinct in the past from the fossil record.