Everglades evolved from overflow from Lake Okeechobee after thousands of years of intense torrential rainfall. From lakes shores of Florida bay and Gulf Mexico, this vast marsh extends southwestwards. Stephanie Moller. (2008). At the southern tip of Florida Peninsula, the marsh begins and continues to extend northwards towards Lake Okeechobee, and it lies in a shallow limestone basin. Several streams like Miami drain the area without any river flowing into the basin.
The Everglades are an excellent wetland located at the margins of the tropics. This magnificent ecosystem provides shelter to a variety of animals, birds and fish. This unique ecosystem evolved around 10000 years ago at the conclusion of recent ice ages, during the melting of ice glaciers leading to rising of the sea level. This melting of the ice led to inundating the outlets of the region to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, the low-lying basin turned into a swamp. Stephanie Moller. (2008)
Apparatus and Material
Conduct a field study on the Florida glades and record data accordingly.
Collect some soil sample from the ecosystem for the analysis.
Take some photographs of the general terrain of the area as well as the organisms found there.
The data should include naming of the available organism of the flora and fauna.
Of the selected entity study their feeding patterns and their prey if any.
Identify producers, consumers and decomposer in the ecosystem.
Construct a food chain from the collected data on the feeding pattern, hence food web also.
Results and Discussion
Some of the organisms that thrived in the ecosystem include periphyton algae, heron, cypress, ferns, Florida panther, mangroves, American alligator, whooping crane, apple snail, snakes and crocodiles.
Plants are the primary producers in this ecosystem and they include cypress, mangroves and periphyton algae.
It is crucial to note that each of the organisms found there has developed to adapt in the environment.
The ecosystem is wet and boggy and this was the reason it supports an broad varieties of organisms both plants and animals.
The Florida panther is adapted in different ways which include; uniform color to camouflage via various sceneries of open ranges. This makes it almost invisible to its prey. The panther is relatively small in weight for mobility purposes and stealth in the everglades. The whiskers are very crucial in the sense that, they develop elevated sensitivity in the area. The whiskers aid in identification of changes in environmental air and test organism that do not belong to its class.
Everglade cypress has protruded roots and their leaves have large surface area. Since the soil is always wet throughout the year, the protruded roots improve breathing. Their leaves on the other hand, are large to increase the surface area which in turn maintains respiratory systems. Maximum photosynthesis is also enhanced through this large surface area of the leaves.
The heron has webbed feet, long beaked and relatively long legs. This kind of adjustment is very crucial since it helps the heron to wade through this marshy environment. The beak is also long to get food from mud. The long legs enhance mobility through long strides in the marsh lands. Their wings play an important part of escaping their predator and also help in appropriate place to stay.
The producers, consumers and the decomposers relate via the following food web.
The letters P, C, and D represents producers, consumers and decomposers respectively.
The consumers are classified as shown below
Saprophytes obtain nutrients from decomposed plant materials they include periphyton algae. Herbivores are the organisms that obtain nutrients from plants only and they include apple snail.
Carnivores obtain nutrients from flesh like the Florida panther.
The whooping crane is an example of omnivores for they obtain nutrients from plants and flesh
This exemplary ecosystem that took years to take shape is constantly faced with great deal external threats. Most of these threats are caused by humans. Poaching of the wild animals like Florida panthers with an goal of obtaining skin to have the feeling of heroism through ownership of these parts. This has led to depletion of the population of these wild animals in number. Industrial effluents have continued to destroy the algae which are an important organism in the food chain and consequently the food web.
However since this natural beauty is home to a large selection of organism. The government through the wildlife administration has made some necessary intervention to preserve this ecosystem. This ecosystem has gotten international recognition from organizations like World Heritage and Ramsar Convention due to its biological significance.
Stephanie Moller. (2008, March). The Everglades national park. TU-Bergakademie. Retrieved April 15, 2013, from: http://www.geo.tu-freiberg.de/oberseminar/os06_07/stephanie_moeller.pdf.