Explore BrainMass

Explore BrainMass

    pH of ecosystems

    Not what you're looking for? Search our solutions OR ask your own Custom question.

    This content was COPIED from BrainMass.com - View the original, and get the already-completed solution here!

    What are some ecosystems that depend heavily on maintaining a specific pH? Why is it necessary to maintain this pH? What is the range of pH's over which this particular system may function? What are some common consequences of deviating from this specific pH?

    © BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com October 3, 2022, 11:42 pm ad1c9bdddf
    https://brainmass.com/chemistry/acids-and-bases/ph-ecosystems-280885

    SOLUTION This solution is FREE courtesy of BrainMass!

    This is a good question as it relates chemistry to ecosystem structure and function. I'm certain that most ecosystems require pH regulation, although the range of tolerable pH values may vary among components ie. soil pH may differ from that in the litter layer in a forest. One of the best (and most interesting, to me at least) examples of an ecosystem with an extreme pH is a peat bog. These are interesting and ecologically important for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, a typical peat bog of the sort found in Northern climates (there are different types of bogs , I will speak specifically about those that are dominated by sphagnum moss) forms over thousands of years, essentially starting with the invasion of a lake or shallow wetland by sphagnum mosses (see more detail here http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/71376/bog. and here http://littoralzone.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/acid-bogs-really-insanely-cool/).

    These bogs have low plant species diversity but the plants they contain are often rare in that they are not found anywhere else. They generally thrive in the acidic pH (3.5-5) that is maintained in the water by the sphagnum. Sphagnum uses a proton pump mechanism to obtain nutrients it needs from the surrounding water; in uptake of minerals like calcium its cells release hydrogen ions into the water, lowering the pH. Other plants that thrive in this acidic, low nutrient environment include insectivorous sundews and pitcher plants (we often find large populations of insects/high insect species diversity in peat bogs, heathers, and some grasses and sedges. By making the ecosystem inhospitable to most other species, those within the bog avoid competition by forest species and trees.

    Consequences of raising peat bog pH above 5 include direct toxicity on the sphagnum mosses, altered buoyancy of the floating peat mats due to decreases in methane production (see this abstract http://www.jstor.org/pss/827133), and increased competition from competing vascular plants and trees. There is a good summary of bog chemistry here http://www.thamesriver.on.ca/Wetlands_and_Natural_Areas/Sifton_Update/04-SiftonBog-MPUpdate-Section4.pdf

    I hope this helps with your assignment, if you have further questions do not hesitate to send them to me (free of charge) as feedback to this solution through the Brainmass system. Good luck with your studies!

    This content was COPIED from BrainMass.com - View the original, and get the already-completed solution here!

    © BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com October 3, 2022, 11:42 pm ad1c9bdddf>
    https://brainmass.com/chemistry/acids-and-bases/ph-ecosystems-280885

    ADVERTISEMENT