Concept And History Of Conservation Of Nature

Concept Of Conservation Of Nature

Conservation of nature is the preservation of some level of biodiversity that is essential to the functioning of the ecosystems and the survival of mankind. Environmentalists want environmental systems and the diversity of species conserved. Historically, the developed countries were not too keen on environmental conservation as the people in developing countries. People of third world countries are more concerned with social origins and human consequences of environmental degradation. 

Developed countries were shocked by the stands taken by developing countries at the UN Conference on the human environment in Stockholm in 1972. The clash in views are now diminishing. Developed countries have become aware of the danger of their work on environment. People in developing countries are now more aware of the importance of ecological systems and processes for economic development.

History Of Conservation Of Nature

Modern conservation practices are influenced by the western society. Western viewpoints about conservation are rooted in the Judeo-Christian view of man and nature.
  • The right of exploitation
  • The responsibility of stewardship
Judeo-Christian belief is that nature was created to serve human race. Hence exploitation of nature is legitimate and natural. Until 18th century, the right of exploitation was limited to elite people. After American and French revolutions, the right of exploiting nature was extended to individuals. The industrial and scientific revolution expanded the ability to exploit resources and create material wealth.

On a scientific side, the concept of nature was created by God, changed to the concept that the world functioned according to the basic laws of physics and chemistry. By 19th century the creationist view was replaced by an evolving mechanist view. The theory of evolution by Darwin taught people that the changes in the environment, including the changes caused by humans could bring about the extinction of organisms as suggested by fossil remains.

World War II suddenly diverted attention from conservation issues.There was explosive growth of technology and human population. This led to introduction of toxic materials into environment for profit. Thus there was significant air, land and water pollution which severely affected the environment. 

Wildlife Species In Different Biogeographic Zones Of India

1. Trans-Himalayan

Has the richest wild sheep and goat community. Snow leopard and black-necked crane are found here. The vegetation is sparse.

2. Himalayan

This region has dense forests with grass and evergreen trees. Oak, chestnut, pine, deodar etc are found here. There is no vegetation above the snowline. Wild sheep, mountain goats, snow leopard are found here.

3. Desert

Plants include babul, wild palm, cactus etc. Indian bustard, camels, wild ass, snakes are found here.

4. Semi Arid

Thorn forest is the natural vegetation of this area. Thorny scrubs, grasses are found here. Birds, jackals, leopards, eagles, buffaloes are found here.

5. Western Ghats

This region has unique plant and animal species.

6. Deccan Peninsula

Thorn forest

7. Gangetic Plain

Teak, sal, khair etc

8. North-East India

Orchids, bamboos, ferns etc

9. Coasts

Back waters are characteristic of this area. Mangrove vegetation, rice, coconut trees etc.

10. Islands

Coral reefs, thick forests etc.

Define Biomes? Enumerate The Terrestrial Biomes Of The World

A biome is a large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat. Eg: Forest or Tundra.

Terrestrial Biomes Of The World

Factors that influence the formation of biomes
  • Climate, precipitation, winds
  • Topography, light
Precipitation is the chief deciding factor of biomes. 

If average annual precipitation is 
  • <25cm - Desert
  • 25-75cm - Grassland
  • >75cm - Forest
1. Tundra

Northern most biome is artic tundra. Treeless wet area between polar ice caps and forests to the south. Predominant plants are lichens, grasses, sedges and dwarf woody plants. Animals are found in land, air and oceans. Climate is very cold with a short growing season. Permanently frozen soil below is called permafrost. Migratory birds visit in summer, breed and fly south. Permanent animals are musk ox, polar bear, grizzly bear, snowy owl, arctic hare etc. It is a fragile ecosystem and organic matter decomposition is slow. Therefore plants grow very slowly. Tundra takes a long time to recover from destructions.

2. Coniferous Forests And Taiga

Coniferous stretches across North America to Eurasia, this region is called Taiga. Taiga is a land of lakes, bogs and marshes. Cold climate with long winters and short summers. Trees are conifers like spruce, pines and firs with needle like leaves to tackle cold weather. Animals are bears, wolves, gray jays etc.

3. Temperate Deciduous Forests

Moderate temperatures that change during 4 seasons. Long summers, not too severe winters and abundant precipitation throughout the year. Dominated by broad deciduous trees such as oak, maple etc that sheds leaves. These are the most productive areas for agriculture. 

4. Temperate Shrublands

Dominated by shrubs than trees. Mediterranean type climate, hot dry summers and cool wet winters. California, Chile, Africa and South Western Australia are the regions that belong to this type. In USA these are called Chapparel. Forest fires are common in these areas.

5. Grasslands

These are known as Prairie in North America, Steppes in Asia and Pampas in South America. These are found over large areas in huge plains. They often fade away into deserts. The area of grasslands in Australia is equal to the desert. Annual rainfall is between 25-100cm. They provide natural pasture for grazing animals. Soils are fertile as well. Grasslands can be divided into 3 categories according to height
  • Tall grasses - 1.5-2m
  • Mid grasses - 30-60cm
  • Short grasses - 3 - 16cm
Herbivores are abundant and carnivores are few in this region.

6. Deserts

Regions between mountains and grasslands are called deserts. Largest desert is Sahara. These have driest environment with <30cm rainfall. There are also cool deserts. Eg: Tibet and Bolinia. Different types of plants found in deserts are Annuals, succulents, hardy desert shrubs etc. Animals are primarily reptiles, birds and mammals. Desert soils are rich in nutrients but water is the limiting factor. Soil is sandy or salty soil.

7. Tropical Savannas

These are a combination of grasslands with scattered trees. They often border tropical rain forests. Climate is warm having 100-150cm rainfall with prolonged dry season. Fires are common. Tress in these areas do not form canopy. Trees grow up to 20m height with thick, evergreen leaves. Grasses may reach 1-1.5cm height and support grazing animals. Largest savanna is in Africa. Animals are grazing animals like Giraffe, antelopes, elephants and predators like lions and cheetahs.

8. Tropical Deciduous Forest

Also known as monsoon forests. These are found in South East Asia, Central and South America, Northern Australia, Western Africa and Pacific. Rainfall is high. Pronounced wet and dry periods, so are winter and summer seasons. The soil is brown in colour and rich in nutrients. Trees shed leaves in one season but ground vegetation remains evergreen. Teak and Sal Forests, Bamboo are the vegetation here.

9. Tropical Rain Forests

The climate is hot, seasonal variation in climate is small, practically the same climate throughout the year. There are thousands of species of plants and animals. South East Asia, Africa, South and Central America, North East Australia belong to this region. Temperature and humidity are high. Rainfall is >200cm. The soil is nutrient poor. Most of the ornamental flowers in our garden are from tropics. Dominant plants grow 25-30cm high forming a dense canopy. Dense canopy blocks light, so the forest floor is open. Trees are flowering and fruit bearing throughout the year. Horn-bills, parrots, monkeys and predatory cats are found here.

Flow Of Energy In Ecosystem & Implication Of Energy Transfer Through Trophic Levels

Food chain is a flow chart that shows the flow of food energy through the ecosystem. Energy flow through the ecosystem is uni-directional from lower trophic level to higher trophic level.

# Draw the diagram given in study material.

At each step of trophic level, large amount of energy is lost as heat. Only 10% goes to the next level. The quantity of energy decreases at a rapid rate from primary producers to top consumers. This is why the food chain has only 4 or 5 trophic levels. For eg: 1500Kg of wheat can support 25 vegetarian men. Whereas 1500Kg of wheat can only support a single person eating sheep.

Chains of food chains get interconnected to form a food web. Food webs represent transfer of energy and nutrients among the organisms through the ecosystem, whereas food chain traces only a pathway. In a food web, many species can occupy more than one trophic level. Eg: Humans.

Major Types Of Food Chains

Food chains that start from green plants followed by herbivores and two successive sets of carnivores are called Grazing food chain or Predator food chain. Food chains that start from dead organic materials which are consumed by parasites and hyper parasites are called Detritus food chain or Saprophytic food chain.

#Draw the diagram given in study material.

Linkage

#Draw the diagram given in study material.

Each link in the food chain are called trophic levels. Green plants form first trophic level, herbivores make up second trophic level and higher trophic levels are composed of carnivores. Trophic level of an organism indicates its position with respect to the producer.

Ecosystem Components And Linkages

Ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. Ecosystem is an intricate network consisting of biotic and abiotic factors, connected through complex interactions that arise between the biotic and abiotic components. 

Components of Ecosystem

Ecosystem includes both biotic and abiotic components. Biotic forms are plants and animals. Abiotic forms include soil, water, light, atmosphere etc. Organisms are broadly divided into producers and consumers. Producers produce their own food from sunlight, CO2 and water through a process called photosynthesis. Eg: Trees, green algae, phytoplankton etc. Organisms that depend directly or indirectly on producers for food are called consumers. 

Consumers are classified as
  • Herbivores
  • Carnivores
  • Omnivores
  • Detritus feeders (Decomposers)
 Decomposers feed on detritus, the dead bodies of plants and animals. They help in re-circulation of materials in the environment. Eg: Bacteria, Fungi.

Linkages

Each organism has linkages with other organisms existing in that ecosystem. All organisms living in an area form a community. Every organism in a community is inderdependent on each other directly or indirectly. Each organism is closely linked with their abiotic environment in a complex way. By harnessing and storing solar energy in the form of carbohydrates, primary producers form a direct link between the abiotic and biotic components.

Herbivores take food from plants and serve as energy source for carnivores. Energy transfer sequence through the food chain and food web provide strong linkages for interconnecting organisms in the ecosystem. Energy lost in the form of heat between trophic levels represent an important linkage between biotic and abiotic components. The metabolic wastes and dead organic matter is another linkage. 

Decomposers convert wastes into their elementary elements such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen which renews the supply of nutrients for green plants. This is another biotic abiotic linkage. Water cycle which is absolutely important for survival is powered by the sun. Thus there is an equilibrium between the physical and biological elements in terms of nutrients and energy. This state is called natural equilibrium.

Abiotic Environment - Important Factors And Examples

Physical and chemical components that influence the living organisms make up the abiotic environment.

1. Atmosphere

Atmosphere is a mixture of different gases and suspended particles. As these gases undergo continual mixing, the composition of atmosphere is the same up to 80km. Above 80km, heavier gases form lower layers and lighter gases form upper layers. 78.08% of atmosphere is nitrogen. The process of converting nitrogen into nitrate and then used by plants and animals is called nitrification. Oxygen forms 20.95% of atmosphere which is important for respiration and energy releasing process. Next abundant is CO2 and argon. CO2 is used by plants for photosynthesis. Atmosphere also contains traces of water vapour (1%) and other gases. Ozone layer protects us from UV rays. Minute liquid or solid particles in the atmosphere are known as aerosols. They arise due to soil erosion, wind, volcanic eruptions, industrial activity etc. Aerosols are important as some act as nuclei for formation of clouds and precipitation, others influence air temperature.

2. Light

Solar energy is the chief source of energy on earth. Sunlight evaporates water and causes rain. Sunlight heats up the earth unevenly causing wind. Plants use sunlight for photosynthesis for the production of glucose. Plants adapt to harvest maximum sunlight. Transpiration movement, flowering and germination are controlled by sunlight. Animals are also sensitive to sunlight. Most animals are active during day, but insects like cockroaches and moths are active during night. 

3. Temperature

All organisms are influenced by temperature. Most organisms survive in a narrow temperature range. The range of temperature in which an organism can survive is known as 'tolerance limit'. For any physiological activity, there is a minimum, maximum and optimum temperature.
  • Minimum Temperature : The activity starts
  • Maximum Temp : Beyond which the activity is not possible
  • Optimum Temp : Activity is at its highest pace
Some organisms develop adaptations to survive extreme temperature (more than 45 degree Celsius is not possible). Eg: Polar Bear, Migration of birds etc.

4. Wind

Wind determines weather. Evapo-transpiration of plants are directly affected by strong or slow wind. At high altitudes, where wind velocity is higher, the tree canopy gets changed according to the wind direction. Wind also helps in dispersal of seeds and fruits. 

5. Humidity

Amount of water vapour or moisture in the air is known as humidity. Absolute humidity is the maximum quantity of moisture at a fixed temperature and pressure. Relative humidity is the maximum quantity of moisture at a fixed temperature and pressure. Relative humidity is the ratio of real humidity and humidity which could be held in the air at that temperature.

Relative Humidity = (Amount of moisture present in the air / Amount of moisture required to saturate the air) x 100

Relative humidity depends on temperature, air pressure, wind velocity, vegetation and soil moisture. Relative humidity declines if atmosphere is warmer and increases in cool conditions. The humidity regulates the evaporation of water from the body of animals in the form of transpiration, perspiration etc. 

6. Water

Water forms the main content of cells in plants and animals. Fish and animals living in fast currents have attaching devices and can thrive in fast currents. Eg: Mangroves, Kangaroo Rat, Desert plants etc.

7. Soil

Soil is the source of nutrients for plants and other organisms. The quantity of available nutrients, water holding capacity and aeration of the soil play a major role in determining its fertility. There are 3 layers of soil. A-Horizon or top soil is the most fertile. Removal of top soil by wind and water is soil erosion and its prevention is soil conservation. B-Horizon or sub-soil contains less organic matter and is less fertile. C-Horizon is a mineral layer made up of partially decomposed underlying bedrock or sediment. It is low in fertility.

Tourism Studies 5 - TS5 Lecture Notes

Abiotic Environment - Important Factors And Examples

Ecosystem Components And Linkages

Major Types Of Food Chains  

Flow Of Energy In Ecosystem & Implication Of Energy Transfer Through Trophic Levels

Define Biomes? Enumerate The Terrestrial Biomes Of The World  

Wildlife Species In Different Biogeographic Zones Of India

Concept And History Of Conservation Of Nature  

Environmental Question In Indian Philosophical Traditions

Role Of Tourism In Development & Conservation Of Resources  

Tourism, Economic Benefits And Environmental Impact

Responsible Tourism  

Significance Of Planning For Tourism And Its Impact On Economy

Multiplier Effect  

Tourism An Instrument In Protecting Historical Sites

Important Measures For Balanced Tourism Development  

Circuits Or Destinations Identified For Concentrated Tourism Development In India

Problems Arising Out Of Unplanned Or Badly Planned Tourism  

Politics Of Environment

How Do Forests Regulate Precipitation? Consequences Of Deforestation

Q) What are the reasons for declining forest area in our country? Discuss the problems associated with depletion of forest cover. Name the states in India where maximum deforestation has occurred ?

Q) How do forests regulate precipitation ? State the various consequences of deforestation?

During the period 1963 - 1973, forest area in the world declined by 15%. India lost 1.3 million hectare between 1972 and 1982. Madhya Pradesh lost 2 million hectares, Maharashtra lost 1 million hectares, so did Orissa, Andhra, Jammu and Kashmir.

Reasons For Deforestation In India

1. Shifting Cultivation : The process of clearing forests, burning trees and cultivating mixed crops until the soil loses productivity. Then they move to new areas. Eg: Hilly areas.

2. Conversion of forests to pastures for cattle.

3. Overgrazing : Overgrazing depleted vast forest areas in India. When cattle walk over, the forest soil gets hardened, preventing regeneration. No plant means loose soil, which gets washed away by rain or wing.

4. Commercial exploitation of timber : Government restrictions are not obeyed by greedy contractors. 

5. Developmental activities like irrigation projects, roads etc.

Consequences of Deforestation

It causes soil erosion, silting of lakes and rivers resulting in floods and loss of several species of plants and animals. When trees on hillsides are cut, the soil gets washed down to rivers during rain. The hills become bare and rivers are choked by mud and silt resulting in floods. This is the main reason behind floods in India. Deforestation destroys the habitat of several wild life species. 100 species of animals and 135 species of plants need immediate protection for survival in India. Over 200 species of animals all over the world has become extinct.

Oceans Are The Largest And Thickest Ecosystems Justify

Tiny plants and animals exist in oceans in immense numbers. A cubic meter of sea water may contain up to 2 lakh organisms. Organisms are more dense around the margins of continents and islands. In oceans, the intensity of light decreases rapidly with depth. Even in the clearest waters there is hardly any light beyond 200m. Thus plants are only found in areas where light is available. They have developed certain floating devices such as oil droplets in their cells or air filled sacs to keep them floated in the lighted areas.

Animals too exhibit zonation. In upper layers, small animals co-exist with phytoplankton and derive energy from them. Below, energy is obtained from wastes and dead bodies of organisms that sink. It will take a lot of time for dead bodies to reach deep, often they are consumed before. So there is scarcity of food in deep oceans.

Some animals come to the surface, eat and go back. Still there are organisms at depths of 600m where it is dark, cold and there is high pressure. Organisms living in this area produce their own light by harboring certain bacteria in their body. Eg: Jellyfish, certain sponges etc. To counter high pressure, certain animals have bones made of silica instead of calcium. Eg: Teeth of shark, ear bones of whales etc. All animals have adapted well to counter the challenges posed by the vast ecosystem.

Producers, Consumers, Decomposers And Their Relationship

Organisms in an ecosystem can be classified as
  • Producers
  • Consumers
  • Decomposers
Producers are the ones that produce food through the process of photosynthesis. Eg: Green plants, algae, bacteria. They use the energy of sunlight to convert carbon dioxide, water into carbohydrates, which we call food.

Consumers are those who cannot make their own food, rather they depend directly or indirectly on producers for energy and nutrients. Consumers include herbivores, animals that eat plants. Carnivores, animals that eat other animals and omnivores, animals that eat both plants and animals.

Decomposers act on dead plants and animal bodies and convert them into their elementary forms. Eg: Bacteria, Fungi.

Water Cycle

First draw the diagram given in the study material.

Water cycle is driven by Sun's heat. Water evaporates > Gravity draws the water back once the water vapour condenses.

1. All water used by man for industries and domestic purpose is fresh water which forms by the evaporation of ocean water and precipitation. 

2. When it rains, part of the water seeps through the soil and collects as ground water between the rocks. This water is used by humans for various purposes.

3. Some water runs down to the rivers and lakes.

4. i) Some water won't reach the ground as it evaporates back to the atmosphere

ii) Plants release large amounts of water to atmosphere through leaves

iii) The water on ground, vegetation and lakes, streams, oceans evaporates back to the atmosphere

Water vapour in the atmosphere forms clouds. They are carried by wind and rains when it meets cold air.

Carbon Cycle

First draw the diagram given on the study material.

Carbon is one of the essential elements of all organic substances and it enters the ecosystem through the process of photosynthesis.

1. Enters the food web through plants by the process of photosynthesis.

2. Some of the CO2 captured by plants are converted into organic molecules and is returned to the atmosphere by respiration.

3. Carbon inside the plant body is passed on to herbivores.

4. Animals and other living things release CO2 while breathing.

5. CO2 is released into the atmosphere by death and decay of dead bodies and excretas.

6. Formation of fossil fuels is a part of carbon cycle, where carbon is trapped for millions of years.

7. CO2 from air dissolves in upper layers of water forming carbonates

8. Plants in sea water use these carbonates as a source of CO2 during photosynthesis.

9. Food produced by water plants passes through the aquatic food chain. Eg: Plant - Fish - Bigger Fish.

10. Some of the CO2 produced by the breathing of marine plants and animals dissolved in sea water can be re-utilized by plants

11. Some of CO2 thus evolved escapes into the atmosphere.

12. Organisms like snails, oysters etc take CO2 in water and combine it with Calcium to form Calcium Carbonate which forms their shells. These shells become limestone once they die.
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