Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet (9th Edition)

Published by Wiley
ISBN 10: 1118427327
ISBN 13: 978-1-11842-732-3

Chapter 6 - Ecosystems: Concepts and Fundamentals - Study Questions: 4

Answer

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, as it can only be transformed from one form to another. Additionally, the second law states that energy is transformed from a more useful to a less useful state. Thus, energy puts limits on life in terms of its availability. Remember that all living organisms require energy, and when energy is limited, so is their ability to do work. On the other hand, phosphorus places limits on life either by its abundance or unavailability. For instance, increasing the amount of phosphorus in the aquatic ecosystem may lead to eutrophication (algal blooms), which may eventually cause hypoxia or oxygen depletion, resulting in fish kills and disruption of the ecosystem. Additionally, phosphorus is the most common limiting factor in the terrestrial ecosystem. Thus, it greatly affects the existence of plants since this chemical element is considered to be one of the macronutrients needed for plant growth.

Work Step by Step

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, as it can only be transformed from one form to another. Additionally, the second law states that energy is transformed from a more useful to a less useful state. Thus, energy puts limits on life in terms of its availability. Remember that all living organisms require energy, and when energy is limited, so is their ability to do work. On the other hand, phosphorus places limits on life either by its abundance or unavailability. For instance, increasing the amount of phosphorus in the aquatic ecosystem may lead to eutrophication (algal blooms), which may eventually cause hypoxia or oxygen depletion, resulting in fish kills and disruption of the ecosystem. Additionally, phosphorus is the most common limiting factor in the terrestrial ecosystem. Thus, it greatly affects the existence of plants since this chemical element is considered to be one of the macronutrients needed for plant growth.
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