## Demographic Data Analysis

Purpose: The purpose of this post is to determine and compare different aspects of demographic data among a variety of countries, such as population and age-dependency ratio.

Questions:

1. China and India have the largest populations in the world. Which of these two countries adds more people to its population annually? [Calculate the numbers added by applying the rate of natural increase to the population of each country. Hint: the rate is a percent]

 Country Number of people added annually China 669,000 India 1,783,500

I calculated the numbers by multiplying the rate of natural increase with the population of each country.  After doing so, India had the greater outcome because there are more people than China that are added to the country each year.

1. What proportion of the world’s people live the following continents/regions and what are the projected proportions by 2025 and 2050?
 Continent % living today % by 2025 % by 2050 Asia 60 60 57 North America 4.8 4.8 5 Latin America 8 8.2 7.7 Europe 11 9.2 7.6 Oceania .5 .56 .6

(My graph would not show up in the blog but here is a link to download and view it)

Series 1: Living today               Series 2: Living by 2025                    Series 3: Living by 2050

What trends are reflected in the bar chart?

Overall, population of people is decreasing as time goes on.

I calculated these numbers by dividing each population of each country by the population of the world as a whole.  I repeated this procedure for the projected years of 2025 and 2050 but with the estimated and approximate values for those years.

1. What proportion of the world’s people live in less developed countries (LDCs) and in more developed countries (MDCs) today? What proportion is projected to live in MDCs in 2025 and in 2050?

 Countries % of world’s population today % of world’s population in 2025 % of world’s population in 2050 LDCs 82 84 86 MDCs 18 15.9 14

Discuss with your partner a) the economic and b) the social implications of the changing proportions of the world’s people in LDCs and MDCs. Record your observations.

Economically, people in LDC’s are unstable, most not having substantial jobs and education in general is not well implicated.  Therefore, women especially resort to having children and raising a large family, this has become the natural way of life in these countries.  On the other hand, MDC’s are much more work oriented, where adults are more focused on being successful and sustaining a well-off lifestyle.  In this case, men and women are more career driven and do not have the time to raise a family, hence their being a lower population of children in MDC’s.

I deciphered these numbers by dividing the world population by the population of both MDC’s and LDC’s.

1. Examine the crude birth rate, crude death rate, and rate of natural increase of any three countries (one being your own country) listed on the World Population Data Sheet.
 Country Crude birth rate Crude death rate Rate of natural increase US 14 8 .6% Greece 11 10 .1% Japan 9 9 -0.0%

Discuss with your group partner the mathematical relationship among these three rates.             Record your observations.

The death rate between these chosen three are all pretty close together, most likely because all of these are MDC’s.  In terms of birth rate, they vary a bit, the highest being the U.S with 14 and Japan being the lowest with 9.  However for the death rate, Greece has the highest of 10 while the US has the lowest of 8.  In terms of the rate of natural increase, the U.S has the highest of .6% while Japan has a decrease of -0.0%.  With this data there doesn’t seem to be a pattern between these three countries.

This comparison can be referenced to the textbook, being that population dynamics vary greatly, whether it be due to social and economic factors or natural forces that cause a population to grow or to decline.

Bibliography

1.”International Data Base – U.S. Census Bureau.” Census Bureau Home Page. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/&gt;.

## First Thoughts About the Keystones

Goals and Overview

This post is meant to show my initial thoughts, brainstorms and research that will eventually feed into my final research project about the wolf keystone species within Yellowstone National Park.

Narrowing the Search

I enjoy topics that involve bettering the environment or community.  Therefore, I decided to narrow in on keystone species, in particular the wolves in Yellowstone.  I got the chance to study them in depth last year in an environmental class, and they are truly an amazing species so being able to present all that they do to help the park will be quite rewarding.

Relating to Class Sources

Luckily, there is an entire section dedicated to keystone species in Chapter 17 of the textbook.  Though we have not discussed this section in class, my project topic directly relates to the ideas of species interactions and community structures.  Terms like indirect commensalism and mutualistic keystones are ways to describe how the wolves have helped Yellowstone.

Benefiting the Class

Yellowstone National Park truly wouldn’t be what it is today without the help of the the wolves that inhabit the area.  From an overview standpoint, the wolves having been introduced back to the park 15 years ago, they have managed the overbearing population of elk that were overgrazing the land and as a result have brought back many plant and animal species that were suffering prior to the wolves’ presence.  Being that this park is such a historical landmark in the states, I feel presenting what good the wolves have done for it will be beneficial for the class to learn.

Summarizing the Article

In the early 1900’s, the grey wolf was looked upon as a predator to livestock and humans, and were therefore eliminated from the Yellowstone Park area.  However later, with the passage of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the idea of change came into play. Twenty years later, the government decided to reintroduce the native species back into its rightful habitat, hoping it would solve the recent issues of imbalance in the ecosystem.  Luckily, the predictions stood correct, and within ten years, the wolves had restored the the natural balance of predator and prey relationship.

Online Credibility

This article stands credible because it was originally a printed publication from the Yellowstone National Park Organization itself.  There is a contact address and a link to the overall Yellowstone Park website and included within the publication is a note from the executive director of the park along with his signature.  After dissecting the source, it definitely appears to be credible, as though it is one of the most first hand credible sources available.

References

– “Wolves: Keystones in Yellowstone’s Ecology”. (2005).  Yellowstone National Park Foundation.  Retrieved from: <http://www.ypf.org/pdfs/19.pdf&gt;

## Understanding the Intake

Purpose

The idea of this post is to show understanding of how animals and humans consume energy and nutrients and how it is eventually recycles back into the ecosystem.

Background Information

An ecological footprint measures of the amount of natural resources humans consume on a regular basis and compares it to the amount of resources nature can provide.  This allows us to visually see how our consumption pattern and how it ultimately impacts the ecosystem.

Energy flow in the ecosystem can first be broken down by trophic levels, or specific position an organism falls within depending on its eating habits.  It starts with the autotrophs, which consist of plants or shrubs that are then eaten by herbivores or primary consumers.  These animals are then eaten by a carnivore or secondary consumer which ultimately gets consumed by tertiary consumers.  In order for this cycle to work however, energy from the sun must be in tact.  Though the energy flow starts from the energy given off by the sun’s heat, only 10% of energy and nutrients from the previous level is passed to the next as the organisms continue to eat each other.  This is why tertiary eaters must consume a lot, being the last in line, therefore receive the least amount of energy.  Ultimately, all organisms die and eventually decay due to the efforts of decomposers within the ground.  Decomposers are the last stage, where every last bit of energy is consumed and only inorganic nutrients are fed back to the beginning of the cycle and the entire process starts again.

http://www.bcscience.com/bc10/pgs/quiz_section2.1.htm

My Dietary Habits

1.  If I were to eat just plants for a year I would ultimately consume 370,000 calories whereas if I were to eat just animals for a year it would be 7,300,000 calories.  If I were to eat 90% plants and 10% animals I would ingest 1,387,000 calories whereas if I were to eat 50% plants and 50% animals it would be 4,015,000 calories.

2.  When comparing, one would consume 18,000 calories more eating strictly animals.  By eating only 10% meat a day, one would pile on an extra 1,800 calories than if one were to eat strictly vegetarian.  By comparing and contrasting data from the chart, it is shocking to visually see the drastic difference between the two calorie intakes.

3.  I believe I eat 50% meat and 50% plant on a regular basis.  This means that the difference would be 9,000 calories between a strict vegetarian diet and mine.

4. Not all countries have the ability to grow and produce food that can be found in America.  The U.S has developed an advanced system that has enabled it to give off such foods, however in other countries, there may be a lack of natural resources, suitable agricultural land or connections/funds to import goods from other countries.

References

2. “Environmental Biology- Ecosystems”. <http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/102/ecosystem.html&gt;

## Beating the Heat: The Elephant Tree

Underneath the Rough Exterior

1. The Elephant Tree exemplifies one of the many ways species are able to acclimate and survive under extreme climate conditions, especially through regulating body temperature.

2.  The elephant tree (Busera fagaroidesis) an extremely rare species that can only be found in rocky dry slopes of desert mountains in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona as well as certain places along the border of California and Mexico.  In these areas, temperatures can soar up to 135 degrees Farhenheit by day and plummet down to 32 degrees by night.  Due to the massive fluctuation in temperature, the elephant tree has adapted to these conditions by being drought tolerant, a succulent plant and able to internally conserve water fairly well considering the lack of it in these desert regions.

3.  This tree needs to thermoregulate because the intensive heat can easily kill these already rare species.  It is necessary that the elephant tree is able to conserve and retain water from very brief and unfrequent desert rains, however the rain, being such an uncommon vital necessity, is presented as a challenge for the elephant tree.  Also, thirsty desert animals can be found as a threat, wanting the elephant tree’s water filled leaves.  The combination of predators and environmental weather conditions creates a battle for this tree on a daily basis.

Here is a photo:

Keeping Cool to Keep in Existence

1.  In reference to K. Schmidt- Nielsen’s model, the elephant tree most closely relates to the component of Hm or metabolic heat.  Because it is a varient of photosynthesis called CAM, or Crassulacean Acid Metabolism, it relies mostly on a metabolic process that traps in more water and keeps the plant cooler over all  (pg.110).

2.  CAM functions mostly due to the fact that the Elephant tree lives in an area with a high fluctuation in temperature.  This CAM plant opens its stomates for gas exchange at night and store carbon dioxide in the form of an organic acid. During the day the stomates are closed and the plants are nearly completely sealed against water loss; photosynthesis is conducted using the stored carbon dioxide (Dimmitt 2009).

photosynthesis within CAM plants

The elephant tree also contains a large amount of roots that go deep beneath the ground as well as ones that right below the soil’s surface.  This is an important trait because due to the heat of the desert, rainfall can evaporate in less than a day, giving any desert plant only a few hours to absorb the water.

3.  It is important for this species to maintain a controlled internal temperature because if it does not stay at a cooled temperature, the harsh environmental conditions could easily kill it.  The elephant tree, being a pollinating plant, must stay hydrated in order to germinate and continue its cycle of reproduction.  Since this is a rare and wild plant to begin with, no amount of human intervention will be able to keep this plant in existence.  It all depends on it’s ability to keep its internal temperature low and to absorb as much of rainfall as possible.

References

1. Arizona-Sonora Desert MuseumMark Dimmitt (Lead Author);Mark McGinley (Topic Editor) . “Adaptations of desert plants”. In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). [First published in the Encyclopedia of Earth December 18, 2009; Last revised Date December 18, 2009; Retrieved October 18, 2010

2. “Sonoran Desert Climate”, http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/sonoran_desert_climate.htm

3. “Elephant Tree”, http://www.desertusa.com/dec96/du_elephant.html

## Assignment #3

Part A.

In regards to global warming affecting the ocean water’s proportions, so far it has caused a significant tidal rise.  Due to the warming of the atmosphere caused by increases in greenhouse gases, glaciers are continuing to melt, warming and expanding thermally and therefore causing a sea-level rise.  In the United States, data has shown water has risen 25 to 30 centimeters over the past century.

After reviewing chapter three, I found coral reefs to be the most interesting topic to me, being something that is constantly harmed and affected within the surrounding area that I live in.   In particular, a huge factor that has led to the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef is human impact. Most of the damage done is unintentional, including deforestation like sediment run off from nearby mining and farming that leaks into the ocean.  The toxic chemicals and minerals that sink into the coral reefs have caused major algae growths that depletes the amount of oxygen for the creatures that live off the coral reef, ultimately leading to a decrease in biodiversity that surrounds the reef.  Overfishing is another harmful impact that humans participate in regularly.  Constantly taking out key species within a specific area can cause an unbalanced ecosystem by killing off many other species that rely on other types of species to survive.  Without the stable circulation of the food chain that coral reefs rely on, it is easy for them wither and eventually die.

Part B.

Being from Southern California, drought is always an issue, being that rainfall is something the area constantly lacks.  Whether it was an article in the paper or a lesson in school, inhabitants are always encouraged to take shorter showers, run the dishes or a load of laundry only when absolutely necessary and to invest in smarter landscaping that requires less watering.  We have embraced this as the type of lifestyle we live, to always conserve, especially when it comes to water.  The source of scarcity would be the fact that we get little rainfall and that no sources of fresh drinking water are readily available in our immediate surrounding area (The Colorado River is our source of water).

In biomes more severe than my own, like the desert, people who live there have truly embraced the idea that drought is a constant.  People do not always settle down in an area because it has access to water.  Though that may be a priority to some, other factors like oil or mining might be reasons as to why people would choose to be in the desert or areas with no access to water.

1.  The world population is predicted to increase by about 14,000 billion people.

2.  The average world per capita water availability is predicted to decrease by about 14,000 billion.

3. The relationship between the two is roughly the same, just flipped.  Therefore, as population increases, water availability decreases.

4.  This makes sense because as more people populate the world, the more basic needs like water, will be consumed and eventually depleted.

5.   The world will be different in the sense that there will be more scarcity in the amount of natural resources that will not be able to be replenished.

## Assignment #2

Part A.

The point of interest that I located in Thessaloniki is The White Tower, found at exactly 40 degrees 38′ 25.11″ N and 22 degrees 56′ 38.31″ E

Here is a photo of the landmark:

In reference to my primary school back home, Woodrow Wilson High School, the coordinates are 33 degrees 46′ 44.17″ N and 118 degrees 08′ 29.53″ W

Here is a photo:

In Long Beach, a variety of biomes are present.  In particular to where I live, wetlands and ocean biomes are very much apart of the area.  Near the ocean, one can see a variety of life that lives in the wetland areas, be it marsh flora or an abundance of amphibians and birds.  A very diverse ecosystem can be found here though the wetlands in Long Beach are not found to be visually pleasing.  The water is far from drinkable and in some areas are unsound and polluted.  Besides the wetlands, the ocean biome is much more prominent.  Long Beach is known for having a vast amount of marine regions, though like the wetlands, are contaminated in areas and are not are not always suitable for aquatic animals and plants.  Though it is generally stated that marine biomes are humid, this idea does not apply to the area that I live in.  In fact, it is usually very dry.  It is also implied that the weather in this specific biome is usually on the cooler side but in my case, the weather is mild to warm all year long.

Part B.

 Country Ecological Footprint (EF) (hectares per person) Proportion relative to world average Proportion relative to world area available Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita –(in PPP dollar) (obtain these data from Globalis) Bangladesh 0.5 .22 .28 1700 Colombia 1.3 .58 0.73(1.3/1.78) 6370 Mexico 2.6 1.7 1.46 8970 Sweden 6.1 2.74 3.43 26050 United Arab Emirates 9.9 4.44 5.56 Could not find Thailand 1.4 .63 .79 7010 United States 9.5 4.26 5.3 35750 World Average 2.23 1.0(2.23/2.23) 1.25(2.23/1.78) Japan 4.3 1.93 2.42 26940 Canada 6.4 2.87 3.6 29480 Niger 1.1 .49 .62 800 Italy 3.8 1.7 2.13 26430 Your personal footprint 11.6 5.2 6.52

After comparing the results for each of these countries, a large-scale of numbers and percentages can be detected.  Due to the large-scale differences of the way each of these countries function and live by definitely determine the results of their GDP and ecological footprint.  For example, when comparing Bangladesh and the United States (.5 vs. .95), it is immediately evident that the U.S is ecologically less sound.  However, though it can be immediately thought that its number is higher because it is more wasteful and consumes more energy, other determinants must also be examined.  The physical size difference between the two countries can pose as a cause to the number difference, Bangladesh being much smaller than the U.S.  This can also speak for the population size difference, the more people a country contains, the more waste will be exuted causing a higher EF number.  Also, the location of the two vary tremendously, in terms of the closeness of natural resources which can add to the highness or lowness of the EF.  However, most prominently, the United States is a high functioning country, therefore with more industry, transportation and electricity, the country as a whole produces more waste and consumes more than Bangladesh, a third world country that is not as advanced as the U.S.

When it comes to per capita income, it can have a great affect on ones ecological footprint usually in a negative way.  When ones income is greater, they have the ability to consume more, be it electricity, fuel, and over all energy.  Those countries with a smaller per capita income tend to conserve more, therefore having less detrimental ecological footprints.

It is unfortunate to say but comparing myself to other countries’ ecological footprint, mine exceeds them all tremendously.  I thought I might be roughly the same as an average American but instead there would roughly need to be two earths more in order to live the way I currently do.  Thinking it couldn’t get any worse, comparing myself to Bangladesh is downright embarrassing, being ten earths over the average.  In other comparisons, I am nine earths more than Mexico, five earths more than Canada and eight earths more than Japan.  It truly is an eye-opening idea to contemplate, believing prior to the survey that I was an ecologically concerned person, conscientious enough about living an environmentally sustained lifestyle.  However, in reality I am more wasteful than I thought, therefore needing to revamp my current habits and take action to fix them.  I am setting goals now, specifically to use my car less (I believe this to be my biggest issue) and to do my best to unplug all electronic devices when not in use.  I will do my best to go to organic markets for produce and from now on buy solely environmentally sound household cleaning products.

## Assignment #1

a)     Suppose that you are a plant ecologist and you make the following observation: During your recent trip in central Kansas you noticed that there is absence of trees from a large geographic area. No trees are present and grass dominates the plains. After a quick search in literature you make the following hypothesis: Periodic fires may prevent tree seedlings from becoming established in grassland. Is this suitable hypothesis? How would you test such a hypothesis?

A: I believe this hypothesis to be a logical and educated guess in regards to to whether or not periodic fires are the cause to lack of trees and instead, an abundance of grass.  Trees require more nutrient-rich soil and if fires occur frequently, the soil will easily become less fertile and the tree seeds will never get the chance to fully mature.  On the contrary, grass is not nearly as delicate as tree seeds being that it does not contain extremely limited growth conditions, grass therefore has the ability to thrive even in fire damaged soil.  Also,  it is quite apparent that because trees take a significant more amount of time to grow when compared to the growth rate of grass, if both types of seeds were burned in the same fire, grass would recover and regrow much quicker.  In order to test the potential hypothesis, it would be most logical to first research and check any databases that might have these particular field fires on record as well as their exact location in order to scout out the best location to perform an investigation and collect on site data.  It would also make sense to scavenge below the grassy surface to see if there is any charred residue or maybe any tree stumps that would be able to prove if trees at one point thrived in the particular Kansas area.

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## Self Introduction…

Hello and welcome to my ecology based blog!

I am currently an undergraduate student from Northeastern University in Boston studying abroad for my first semester of college.  Though I was skeptical at first, so far my first few weeks living on my own in Thessaloniki, Greece has been exceptionally cultural and over all a rewarding experience.

Though I am not a science oriented student in any way, I decided to take Ecology being that I enjoyed an environmental science course I took last year.  Surprisingly, after just one inspiring project of collecting news clippings on current events in the environment last year,  I have become relatively interested in the ecological issues that I see in the media and those that are continually happening around me on a daily basis.  Therefore, I feel this class is applicable to my interests and I truly cannot wait to explore concepts further.

I hope to use this blog as much as possible by posting assignments given by my professor as well as continually blogging about my own experiences and information that I collect along the way during the duration of my stay in Greece!

My place of orgin

I was born and raised in Long Beach, California, a larger city located right along the Southern California coast. Though I had an amazing upbringing there, the coastal suburban lifestyle had a tendency to become sleepy and uneventful, hence my desire to travel abroad to a more urban, dense and cultured city.

Environment in the news

One thing that I do admire about my hometown is that it is constantly finding new and innovative ways to stay environmentally sound, whether it is through community gatherings, heavy enforcements on recycling or conserving energy.  Currently, there are debates within Long Beach being that a large section of the city has been built on top of a landfill and issues have risen concerning the safety and stability of the land.  There has also been controversy in the past year with the Port of Long Beach only allowing clean, fuel efficient trucks to be used despite the fact that most truck drivers cannot afford to abide by these regulations.  Despite the mixed feelings towards this regulation, my city is looking brightly into the future to better sustain and create a cleaner city that is a home to more than 500,000 people.

On a more national scale, the most recent and devastating environmental crisis would be the BP oil spill that killed eleven men and ultimately sent millions of gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

I will make sure to consistently update my blog with my thoughts and feelings on more current environmental issues as well as any other information I find to be interesting and worth reading about.

Thanks for taking the time to read, I’ll make sure to keep the posts coming!