Ecological collapse refers to a situation where an ecosystem suffers a drastic, possibly permanent, reduction in carrying capacity for all organisms, often resulting in mass extinction. Usually, an ecological collapse is precipitated by a disastrous event occurring on a short time scale. Ecological collapse can be considered as a consequence of ecosystem collapse on the biotic elements that depended on the original ecosystem.
Ecosystems have the ability to rebound from a disruptive agent. The difference between collapse or a gentle rebound is determined by two factors—the toxicity of the introduced element and the resiliency of the original ecosystem.
Through natural selection the planet's species have continuously adapted to change through variation in their biological composition and distribution. Mathematically it can be demonstrated that greater numbers of different biological factors tend to dampen fluctuations in each of the individual factors.
Scientists can predict tipping points for ecological collapse. The most frequently used model for predicting food web collapse is called R50, which is a reliable measurement model for food web robustness.
Although, there is no single cause for ecological collapse, attributing factors include asteroid impacts, extremely large volcanic eruptions, and abrupt climate change. The snowball effect of these attributing factors and ecological collapse are demonstrated within the fossil record. Prehistoric examples include the Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse, the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, the Permian–Triassic extinction event, and other mass extinctions. For example, effects of climate change as a contributing factor towards ecological collapse are demonstrated in the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events. A possible cause of the Ordovician Extinction was global cooling which affected the habitats of marine life. Consequently, sea creatures such as trilobites, brachiopods, and graptolites became extinct. Furthermore, Karabonov and colleagues conducted a study to show how during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), alternations in the environment and climate led to ecological collapse in Lake Baikal and Lake Hovsgol which then led to species evolution in these systems. The collapse of Hovsgol's ecosystem during the LGM brought forth a new ecosystem, with limited biodiversity in species and low levels of endemism, in Hovsgol during the Holocene. Karabonov's study also shows that ecological collapse during LGM in Lake Hovsgol led to higher levels of diversity and higher levels of endemism as a byproduct of evolution following the ecological collapse of the LGM. The Ordovician Extinction event and Lake Baikal and Hovsgol demonstrate two effects of ecological collapse on prehistoric environments.
Important pressures contributing to current and future ecological collapse include habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, overgrazing, overexploitation of ecosystems by humans, human industrial growth and overpopulation, climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, and invasive species.
Rainforest collapse refers to the actual past and theoretical future ecological collapse of rainforests. It may involve habitat fragmentation to the point where little rainforest biome is left, and rainforest species only survive in isolated refugia. Habitat fragmentation can be caused by roads. When humans start to cut down the trees for logging, secondary roads are created that will go unused after its primary use. Once abandoned, the plants of the rainforest will find it difficult to grow back in that area. Forest fragmentation also opens the path for illegal hunting. Species have a hard time finding a new place to settle in these fragments causing ecological collapse. This leads to extinction of many animals in the rainforest.
In the Carboniferous period, coal forests, great tropical wetlands, extended over much of Euramerica (Europe and America). This land supported towering lycopsids which fragmented and collapsed abruptly. The collapse of the rainforests during the Carboniferous has been attributed to multiple causes, including climate change. Specifically, at this time climate became cooler and drier, conditions that are not favourable to the growth of rainforests and much of the biodiversity within them. This sudden collapse affected several large groups including lycopsids and amphibians. Reptiles prospered in the new environment due to adaptations that let them thrive in drier conditions.
A classic pattern of forest fragmentation is occurring in many rainforests including those of the Amazon, specifically a 'fishbone' pattern formed by the development of roads into the forest. This is of great concern, not only because of the loss of a biome with many untapped resources and wholesale death of living organisms, but also because plant and animal species extinction is known to correlate with habitat fragmentation.
Overgrazing was found to cause land degradation, specifically in Southern Europe, which is another driver of ecological collapse and natural landscape loss. Proper management of pastoral landscapes can mitigate risk of desertification.
In 2010 4.9 million barrels (210 million US gal; 780,000 m3) of oil was dumped into the Gulf of Mexico when BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. The effects of the BP oil spill will continue to be felt by future generations, as contamination has been found throughout the entire food chain. More than 8,000 marine birds, sea turtles and marine mammals were found dead or injured within months of the clean up effort. The impact of this disaster has unbalanced the food web of the environment. The oil spill occurred at the height of breeding season and as result affected egg and larval animals to the worst extent wiping entire age classes. This loss of a generation down the line will prove dire for future predators of the ecosystem.
In addition, a major concern for marine biologists is the effects of ecological collapse on the coral reefs (who based on fossil evidence are more vulnerable to extinction but also demonstrate greater resilience). An effect of global climate change is the rising sea levels which can lead to reef drowing or coral bleaching. Human activity, such as fishing, mining, deforestation, etc., serves as a threat for coral reefs by affecting the niche of the coral reefs. For example, Edinger and colleagues demonstrate a correlation between a loss in diversity of coral reefs by 30-60% and human activity such as sewage and/or industrial pollution.
The ocean is in great danger of collapse. In a study of 154 different marine fish species, David Byler found out that many factors such as overfishing, climate change, and fast growth of fish populations will cause ecosystem collapse. When humans fish, they usually will fish the populations of the higher trophic levels such as salmon and tuna. The depletion of these trophic levels allow the lower trophic level to overpopulate, or populate very rapidly. For example, when the population of catfish is depleting due to overfishing, plankton will then overpopulate because their natural predator is being killed off. This causes an issue called eutrophication. Since the population all consumes oxygen the dissolved oxygen(DO) levels will plummet. The DO levels dropping will cause all the species in that area to have to leave, or they will suffocate. This along with climate change, and ocean acidification can cause the collapse of an ecosystem.
Although global climate change and human dominance are inevitable, humans can institute greater self-awareness in order to aid the habits of creatures such as coral reefs.
Some scientists predict that a global ecological collapse will occur after 50% of the natural landscape is gone due to human development.
Although the causes of ecological collapse are due to factors unique to their environment, they all for the most part share similar ramifications such as loss in biodiversity, trophic cascades, and even extinction. For example, the urbanization and deforestation of the South east Asian Pacific has led to the extinction of three plant species and eight animal species in 2003.
Bacterivores are free-living, generally heterotrophic organisms, exclusively microscopic, which obtain energy and nutrients primarily or entirely from the consumption of bacteria. Many species of amoeba are bacterivores, as well as other types of protozoans. Commonly, all species of bacteria will be prey, but spores of some species, such as Clostridium perfringens, will never be prey, because of their cellular attributes.Chris Moriarty
Chris Moriarty (born 1968) is an American science fiction and fantasy writer.
She has lived in the U.S., Europe, Mexico and Southeast Asia.
Before becoming a science fiction writer, she worked as a horse trainer, ranch hand, tourism industry employee, guide and environmental lawyer. She currently lives in Ithaca, New York.
Moriarty is the author of a trilogy of hard science fiction novels set in a distant future where Earth has undergone ecological collapse. Most of humanity has migrated to various planets and space habitats, both in the solar system and around nearby stars such as Barnard's Star and 51 Pegasi. The technologies feature cloning, artificial intelligences, genetic constructs and use of a material referred to as "condensate" which allows instantaneous communication and teleportation. The trilogy has garnered significant critical acclaim, including nominations for the Philip K. Dick, John Campbell, Spectrum, Prometheus, and Lambda Awards. Spin Control won the 2007 Philip K. Dick Award.
Moriarty is also the author of two young adult fantasy novels, The Inquisitor's Apprentice and The Watcher in the Shadows. Her young adult novels feature a Jewish main character and take place on the Lower East Side in an alternate Gilded Age New York. The Inquisitor's Apprentice was one of Library Journal's Top Ten Children's Books of 2011. Both The Inquisitor's Apprentice and The Watcher in the Shadows have been book club selections for PJ Library's program to promote outstanding Jewish children's literature.Classic Maya collapse
In archaeology, the classic Maya collapse is the decline of the Classic Maya civilization and the abandonment of Maya cities in the southern Maya lowlands of Mesoamerica between the 8th and 9th centuries, at the end of the Classic Maya Period. The Preclassic Maya experienced a similar collapse in the 2nd century.The Classic Period of Mesoamerican chronology is generally defined as the period from 250 to 900 CE, the last century of which is referred to as the Terminal Classic. The Classic Maya collapse is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in archaeology. Urban centers of the southern lowlands, among them Palenque, Copán, Tikal, and Calakmul, went into decline during the 8th and 9th centuries and were abandoned shortly thereafter. Archaeologically, this decline is indicated by the cessation of monumental inscriptions and the reduction of large-scale architectural construction at the primary urban centers of the Classic Period.Although termed a collapse, it did not mark the end of the Maya civilization but rather a shift away from the Southern Lowlands as a power center; the Northern Yucatán in particular prospered afterwards, although with very different artistic and architectural styles, and with much less use of monumental hieroglyphic writing. In the Post-Classic Period following the collapse, the state of Chichén Itzá built an empire that briefly united much of the Maya region, and centers such as Mayapán and Uxmal flourished, as did the Highland states of the Kʼicheʼ and Kaqchikel Maya. Independent Maya civilization continued until 1697 when the Spanish conquered Nojpetén, the last independent city-state. Millions of Maya people still inhabit the Yucatán peninsula today.Because parts of Maya civilization unambiguously continued, a number of scholars strongly dislike the term collapse. Regarding the proposed collapse, E. W. Andrews IV went as far as to say, "in my belief no such thing happened."Copiotroph
A copiotroph is an organism found in environments rich in nutrients, particularly carbon. They are the opposite to oligotrophs, which survive in much lower carbon concentrations.
Copiotrophic organisms tend to grow in high organic substrate conditions. For example, copiotrophic organisms grow in Sewage lagoons. They grow in organic substrate conditions up to 100x higher than oligotrophs.Decomposer
Decomposers are organisms that break down dead or decaying organisms, and in doing so, they carry out the natural process of decomposition. Like herbivores and predators, decomposers are heterotrophic, meaning that they use organic substrates to get their energy, carbon and nutrients for growth and development. While the terms decomposer and detritivore are often interchangeably used, detritivores must ingest and digest dead matter via internal processes while decomposers can directly absorb nutrients through chemical and biological processes hence breaking down matter without ingesting it. Thus, invertebrates such as earthworms, woodlice, and sea cucumbers are technically detritivores, not decomposers, since they must ingest nutrients and are unable to absorb them externally.Dominance (ecology)
Ecological dominance is the degree to which a taxon is more numerous than its competitors in an ecological community, or makes up more of the biomass.
Most ecological communities are defined by their dominant species.
In many examples of wet woodland in western Europe, the dominant tree is alder (Alnus glutinosa).
In temperate bogs, the dominant vegetation is usually species of Sphagnum moss.
Tidal swamps in the tropics are usually dominated by species of mangrove (Rhizophoraceae)
Some sea floor communities are dominated by brittle stars.
Exposed rocky shorelines are dominated by sessile organisms such as barnacles and limpets.Ecomodernism
Ecomodernism is an environmental philosophy which argues that humans can protect nature by using technology to "decouple" anthropogenic impacts from the natural world. Ecomodernism is a school of thought from many environmental and design scholars, critics, philosophers, and activists. Ecology-based Modernism is the most direct way to define this movement. It embraces the most successful aspects of the Outlaw Designers (Jay Baldwin, Buckminster Fuller and Stewart Brand) from the 1960s and 70s with the reform-based hopeful pragmatism of the Modernists. It demands a more detailed understanding of the discipline's history and encourages designed objects and systems created with the logical inspiration of nature's cycle built in to its goals. The resulting material and immaterial creations hope to better unite technology, humanity and nature. Eco-Modernism urges designers to unplug from their world of pixels and reconnect with the nuances of our natural environment so as a collective we can better understand the materials we use, processes we employ and appreciate the importance of our natural resources. Instead of a linear approach to a design process, based on Fordism and Taylorism, Eco-Modernism embraces nature's model of "waste equals food" (William McDonough and Michael Braungart) and cradle-to-cradle coined by Walter R. Stahel in the 1970s (during the Outlaw Design Movement) where design and manufacturing aim to "close the loop". To achieve this component of the movement designers must minimize their environmental footprint by utilizing local and renewable resources for all of our future endeavors. In their 2015 manifesto, 18 self-professed ecomodernists—including scholars from the Breakthrough Institute, Harvard University, Jadavpur University, and the Long Now Foundation—enlarged the scope of Eric Benson's and Peter Fine's 2010 original definition as such: "we affirm one long-standing environmental ideal, that humanity must shrink its impacts on the environment to make more room for nature, while we reject another, that human societies must harmonize with nature to avoid economic and ecological collapse."Ecosystem collapse
An ecosystem is considered collapsed when its unique biotic (characteristic biota) or abiotic features are lost from all previous occurrences. Ecosystem collapse could be reversible and is thus not completely equivalent to species extinction.Ecosystem collapse can lead to catastrophic declines of carrying capacity and mass extinction (known as ecological collapse), and can also pose existential risk to human populations.Despite the strong empirical evidence, anticipating collapse is a complex problem. The collapse can happen when the ecosystem's distribution decreases below a minimal sustainable size, or when key biotic processes and features disappear due to environmental degradation or disruption of biotic interactions. These different pathways to collapse can be used as criteria for estimating the risk of ecosystem collapse. Although states of ecosystem collapse are often defined quantitatively, few studies adequately describe transitions from pristine or original state towards collapse.Erosion
In earth science, erosion is the action of surface processes (such as water flow or wind) that removes soil, rock, or dissolved material from one location on the Earth's crust, and then transports it to another location (not to be confused with weathering which involves no movement). This natural process is caused by the dynamic activity of erosive agents, that is, water, ice (glaciers), snow, air (wind), plants, animals, and humans. In accordance with these agents, erosion is sometimes divided into water erosion, glacial erosion, snow erosion, wind (aeolic) erosion, zoogenic erosion, and anthropogenic erosion. The particulate breakdown of rock or soil into clastic sediment is referred to as physical or mechanical erosion; this contrasts with chemical erosion, where soil or rock material is removed from an area by its dissolving into a solvent (typically water), followed by the flow away of that solution. Eroded sediment or solutes may be transported just a few millimetres, or for thousands of kilometres.
Natural rates of erosion are controlled by the action of geological weathering geomorphic drivers, such as rainfall; bedrock wear in rivers; coastal erosion by the sea and waves; glacial plucking, abrasion, and scour; areal flooding; wind abrasion; groundwater processes; and mass movement processes in steep landscapes like landslides and debris flows. The rates at which such processes act control how fast a surface is eroded. Typically, physical erosion proceeds fastest on steeply sloping surfaces, and rates may also be sensitive to some climatically-controlled properties including amounts of water supplied (e.g., by rain), storminess, wind speed, wave fetch, or atmospheric temperature (especially for some ice-related processes). Feedbacks are also possible between rates of erosion and the amount of eroded material that is already carried by, for example, a river or glacier. Processes of erosion that produce sediment or solutes from a place contrast with those of deposition, which control the arrival and emplacement of material at a new location.While erosion is a natural process, human activities have increased by 10-40 times the rate at which erosion is occurring globally. At well-known agriculture sites such as the Appalachian Mountains, intensive farming practices have caused erosion up to 100x the speed of the natural rate of erosion in the region. Excessive (or accelerated) erosion causes both "on-site" and "off-site" problems. On-site impacts include decreases in agricultural productivity and (on natural landscapes) ecological collapse, both because of loss of the nutrient-rich upper soil layers. In some cases, the eventual end result is desertification. Off-site effects include sedimentation of waterways and eutrophication of water bodies, as well as sediment-related damage to roads and houses. Water and wind erosion are the two primary causes of land degradation; combined, they are responsible for about 84% of the global extent of degraded land, making excessive erosion one of the most significant environmental problems worldwide.Intensive agriculture, deforestation, roads, anthropogenic climate change and urban sprawl are amongst the most significant human activities in regard to their effect on stimulating erosion. However, there are many prevention and remediation practices that can curtail or limit erosion of vulnerable soils.Extinction Rebellion
Extinction Rebellion (abbreviated as XR) is a socio-political movement which uses nonviolent resistance to protest against climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse.Extinction Rebellion was established in the United Kingdom in May 2018 with about one hundred academics signing a call to action in support in October 2018, and launched at the end of October by Roger Hallam, Gail Bradbrook, Simon Bramwell, and other activists from the campaign group Rising Up! In November 2018 various acts of civil disobedience were carried out in London. In an ongoing action, in April 2019 XR occupied four prominent sites in central London: Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and the area around Parliament Square.
Citing inspiration from grassroots movements such as Occupy, Gandhi's independence movement, the suffragettes, Martin Luther King and others in the civil rights movement, Extinction Rebellion wants to rally support worldwide around a common sense of urgency to tackle climate breakdown. A large number of activists in the movement have pledged to be arrested, and even to go to prison, similar to the mass arrest tactics of the Committee of 100 in 1961.
Its logo uses the circled hourglass extinction symbol.Feeding frenzy
In ecology, a feeding frenzy occurs when predators are overwhelmed by the amount of prey available. For example, a large school of fish can cause nearby sharks, such as the lemon shark, to enter into a feeding frenzy. This can cause the sharks to go wild, biting anything that moves, including each other or anything else within biting range. Another functional explanation for feeding frenzy is competition amongst predators. This term is most often used when referring to sharks or piranhas. It has also been used as a term within journalism.Human extinction
In futures studies, human extinction is the hypothetical end of the human species. This may result from natural causes or it may be the result of human action. The likelihood of human extinction in the future by wholly natural scenarios, such as a meteorite impact or large-scale volcanism, is generally considered to be extremely low.For anthropogenic extinction, many possible scenarios have been proposed: human global nuclear annihilation, biological warfare or the release of a pandemic-causing agent, overpopulation, ecological collapse, and climate change; in addition, emerging technologies could bring about new extinction scenarios, such as advanced artificial intelligence, biotechnology, or self-replicating nanobots. The probability of anthropogenic human extinction within the next hundred years is the topic of an active debate.
Human extinction needs to be differentiated from the extinction of all life on Earth (see also future of Earth) and from the extinction of major components of human culture (e.g., through a global catastrophe leaving only small, scattered human populations, which might evolve in isolation).Kattegat
The Kattegat (, Danish: [ˈkʰætəkæt]; Swedish: Kattegatt [²katːɛˌɡat]) is a 30,000 km2 (12,000 sq mi) sea area bounded by the Jutlandic peninsula in the west, the Danish Straits islands of Denmark to the south and the provinces of Västergötland, Scania, Halland and Bohuslän in Sweden in the east. The Baltic Sea drains into the Kattegat through the Danish Straits. The sea area is a continuation of the Skagerrak and may be seen as a bay of the Baltic Sea or the North Sea or, as in traditional Scandinavian usage, neither of these.
The Kattegat is a rather shallow sea and can be very difficult and dangerous to navigate, due to the many sandy and stony reefs and tricky currents that often shift. In modern times, artificial seabed channels have been dug, many reefs have been dredged by either sand pumping or stone fishing, and a well-developed light signaling network has been installed, to safeguard the very heavy international traffic of this small sea.
There are several large cities and major ports in the Kattegat, including Gothenburg, Aarhus, Aalborg, Halmstad and Frederikshavn, mentioned by descending size.Mycotroph
A mycotroph is a plant that gets all or part of its carbon, water, or nutrient supply through symbiotic association with fungi. The term can refer to plants that engage in either of two distinct symbioses with fungi:
Many mycotrophs have a mutualistic association with fungi in any of several forms of mycorrhiza. The majority of plant species are mycotrophic in this sense. Examples include Burmanniaceae.
Some mycotrophs are parasitic upon fungi in an association known as myco-heterotrophy.Organotroph
An organotroph is an organism that obtains hydrogen or electrons from organic substrates. This term is used in microbiology to classify and describe organisms based on how they obtain electrons for their respiration processes. Some organotrophs such as animals and many bacteria, are also heterotrophs. Organotrophs can be either anaerobic or aerobic.
Antonym: Lithotroph, Adjective: Organotrophic.Recruitment (biology)
In biology, especially marine biology, recruitment occurs when a juvenile organism joins a population, whether by birth or immigration, usually at a stage whereby the organisms are settled and able to be detected by an observer.There are two types of recruitment: closed and open.In the study of fisheries, recruitment is "the number of fish surviving to enter the fishery or to some life history stage such as settlement or maturity".Relative abundance distribution
In the field of ecology, the relative abundance distribution (RAD) or species abundance distribution describes the relationship between the number of species observed in a field study as a function of their observed abundance. The graphs obtained in this manner are typically fitted to a Zipf–Mandelbrot law, the exponent of which serves as an index of biodiversity in the ecosystem under study.The Caryatids
The Caryatids is a science fiction novel by American writer Bruce Sterling, published in 2009. It tells the tale of the four Mihajlovic "sisters", clones of the widow of a Balkan warlord now exiled to an orbital space station. From the viewpoint of a "Dispensation" entrepreneur from Los Angeles, the sisters, raised in an environment of ubiquitous computing, may succeed in rescuing the Earth from environmental collapse (see environmental degradation, ecological collapse, pollution, and other related concepts) in the year 2065.
The novel's locations include the Croatian island of Mljet, a Los Angeles threatened by a supervolcano, and the wastes of Central Asia.The Final Night
The Final Night was a 1996 comic book crossover storyline published by DC Comics that ran through a weekly self-titled limited series and a score of tie-in issues spanning most of DC's ongoing titles in the month of September 1996 (cover-dated November 1996). It featured the Justice League of America, several members of the Legion of Super-Heroes and more than two dozen allied heroes, villains and scientists of the DC Universe banding together in the face of global calamity when an extraterrestrial entity called the Sun-Eater envelopes and extinguishes the Sun, causing Earth to freeze and wither into ecological collapse.
Unlike other crossover events published by DC, the conflict of The Final Night did not revolve around a conventional villain. It was primarily a story of survival that focused on the main characters performing disaster response, while attempting to prevent impending mass extinction of all life on Earth. At the end of each issue was an in-story website feature written by S.T.A.R. Labs, giving information updates and emergency support to residents of the DC Universe as the crisis progressed.
The storyline is notable in DC canon for the death and disputed redemption of Green Lantern Hal Jordan, whose character at the time had been transformed into the villainous Parallax. Jordan's character was later restored to life and to his role as Earth's Green Lantern in the 2004 miniseries Green Lantern: Rebirth.