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Ecosystems: Change and Challenge

Nature of ecosystems

Structure of ecosystems, energy flows, trophic levels, food chains and food webs.

Ecosystems in the British Isles over time

Succession and climatic climax: illustrated by one of lithosere, psammosere, hydrosere or halosere.

The characteristics of the climatic climax: temperate deciduous woodland biome.

The effects of human activity on succession illustrated by one plagioclimax such as a heather moorland.

The biome of one tropical region (savanna, grassland or tropical monsoon forest or tropical equatorial rainforest)

The main characteristics of the biome.

Ecological responses to the climate and soil moisture budget adaptations by vegetation and animals.

Human activity and its impact on the biome.

Development issues in the biome to include aspects of biodiversity and the potential for sustainability.

Ecosystem issues on a local scale: impact of human activity

Changes in ecosystems resulting from urbanisation.

Urban niches. Colonisation of wasteland: the development of distinctive ecologies along routeways (e.g. roads and railways).

The planned and unplanned introduction of new species and the impact of this on ecosystems.

Changes in the rural/urban fringe.

Ecological conservation areas. One case study should be undertaken.

Ecosystem issues on a global scale

The relationships between human activity, biodiversity and sustainability

The management of fragile environments (conservation versus exploitation): two contrasting case studies of recent (within the last 30 years) management schemes in fragile environments should be undertaken.