Ecosystem Dynamics In Paluma and Crystal Creek Rainforest

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2016
14 Pages



1.0 Introduction

2.0 Methodology
2.1 Analysis of Methodology

3.0 Field Study Data Analysis

4.0 Consequences
4.1 Environmental
4.2 Educational

5.0 Recommendations

6.0 Conclusion

7.0 Annotated Bibliography


The special life forms of three separate locations in the rainforest were observed and recorded to determine the impact of deforestation on the biotic and abiotic factors of the rainforest ecosystem. It was found that many of the special life forms that existed in the unlogged area of the rainforest were absent in the partially logged forest. It was also noted that the abiotic components of the sites, including the temperature, wind speed, humidity, light reading and weather conditions were vastly different. The data was very useful, but was only representative of three sites at one location. The data was based on estimation rather than exact values, which reduced the accuracy and reliability. Finally, it was decided that 1000m[2] of Paluma Range National Park should not be cleared because of the ecological impacts and the economic and educational consequences.

1.0 Introduction

Paluma and Crystal Creek Rainforest Development Proposal

In an attempt to increase the number of students that can camp on site and learn about the rainforest, the Paluma Environmental Education Centre (PEEC) is considering an expansion of its current location. The suggested plans require the removal of approximately 1000m[2] of Paluma Range National Park and will double the capacity of students able to stay in cabins. However, the Paluma Range National Park contains various special life forms of flora and fauna, which must be preserved in the best interest of the natural ecosystem. It is therefore recommended that no land is to be cleared and that further action be taken to preserve the rainforest. The major points that will be covered within the report are the environmental and educational impacts of clearing an area of the rainforest to justify the decision made.

2.0 Methodology

The primary data that was compiled in a fieldtrip log book and was collected from three sites of Paluma and Crystal Creek Rainforest: an open Eucalypt forest (site 1), an unlogged forest (site 2) and a selectively logged forest (site

3). The biotic (special life forms) and abiotic (weather conditions, temperature, humidity, wind speed, light reading) factors of the three sites were recorded in the logbook and analysed in the ‘Analysis of Primary Data’ section of this report. The secondary data was sourced from a range of websites, which was critically evaluated in the ‘Annotated Bibliography’ section of this report.

2.1 Analysis of Methodology

The primary data was partially reliable because the recordings were taken over two days with fairly similar weather conditions, the observations were confirmed by a group of 9 students and proper equipment (clinometer, lux meter, data logger) was used. Some issues that may have decreased the accuracy of the data was the difference in the time allowed for the average speed to be recorded, different heights where light readings were taken and different opinions on weather conditions. To improve the accuracy, and therefore the reliability, it is recommended that a specific time be set for the wind speed recording (eg. 1 minute), a set height be set for light reading (eg. 1m) and clear definitions be set for weather conditions (eg. % cloud coverage). Though the data may not have been completely accurate, it is definitely still useful to compare the three sites to determine the impact of selective logging.

3.0 Field Study Data Analysis

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Site 1 had the warmest temperature, lowest humidity, highest light reading and highest wind speed compared to Site 2 and Site 3. Site 1 was an open Eucalypt forest; the canopy was sparse, meaning that the trees were not closely compacted. The sparseness of the canopy caused the higher wind speed because the trees could not form a windbreak. “Windbreaks are barriers used to reduce and redirect wind. The reduction in wind speed behind a windbreak modifies the environmental conditions or microclimate in the sheltered zone” (Brandle and Finch, n.d). The sparseness of the canopy also meant that more light could filter into the forest, which caused the high light reading. This statement is supported by a study conducted by Christine Parker into the light characteristics in open-forests, which concluded that; “More light reaches the forest floor when there is an open canopy than when the canopy is closed,” (Parker, 1996). The low humidity was a result of the high temperature because of the movement of water molecules in the atmosphere. When the atmosphere is hot, the water molecules move rapidly and are spread so far apart that they are invisible, but when the temperature is lower they do not move as much, forcing them to stick and become visible. (Goldstein, 2002). If an area similar to this site were to be cleared, the canopy would become even sparser as there would be fewer trees. This would increase the light and therefore the temperature, and as the temperature increase the humidity would decrease. The removal of the trees would further increase the wind speed through the area. These changes to the abiotic factors would have significant impacts on the biotic components.

The types of biota, which were present at Site 1, were grasses (3) and ferns (2-3). The qualitative ranking system, which was used to estimate the population of species was an arbitrary scale from 0-3, where 0 was absent, 1 was rare, 2 was occasional and 3 was common. The arbitrary scale gave a quick estimation on how common different species were in the site, but did not calculate the exact number of species (quantitative). This system meant that the whole site could be included in the survey, meaning that the data was more representative, but the accuracy was reduced because of estimation. The fern has specific abiotic requirements for it to survive and reproduce, including, moisture in the air, protection from wind and protection from too much sunlight (Aone, 1998). If this site were cleared, it is predicted that the increased temperature, decreased moisture in the air (humidity) and increased wind speed would threaten the fern species.

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Site 2 had a cooler temperature than site 1, and therefore a higher humidity, as a result of evapotranspiration. The process of evapotranspiration combines two simultaneous processes, which release moisture into the air; these are known as evaporation and transpiration. “During evaporation, water is converted from liquid to vapour and evaporates from soil, lakes, rivers and even pavement. During transpiration, water that was drawn up through the soil by the roots evaporates from the leaves” (Trimarchi, 2008). Evapotranspiration releases moisture into the atmosphere, which consequently lowers the air temperature and reduced air pollutants (Trimarchi, 2008). Site 2 is unlogged and has a very dense canopy, meaning the trees are very close together, overlapping in fact. The denseness of the canopy means that the amount of light entered the forest is significantly reduced, which consequently increases the moisture. Butler supports this statement, “The rainforest floor is often dark and humid due to constant shade from the canopy’s leaves” (Butler, 2004). The canopy acts as a windbreak, which caused the wind speed to not be recognised by the equipment. These abiotic conditions allowed for diverse biotic species to grow in the rainforest. The constant shade of the rainforest floor is essential for the functioning of the forest ecosystem, as this is where decomposition takes place. “Decomposition is the process by which fungi and microorganisms break down dead plants and animals and recycle essential materials and nutrients” (Butler, 2004). By clearing this area, the process of decomposition would be disrupted, meaning that materials and nutrients cannot be recycles, which causes an imbalance in the ecosystem.

The species found in Site 2 were noted with the same arbitrate scale: Feather Leaf Tree Palm (3), Tree Fern (3), Palm Liane (3), Pandan Liane (2), Robust Woody Liane (3), Slender Wiry Liane (2), Strangler Fig (2), Vascular Epiphytes in tree crowns (3), Non-vascular Epiphytes down low (2), Ferns (3), and thorns/prickles (3). These species require the dark, damp and fairly cool conditions to survive and compete with other species for resources, such as light. If some of the abiotic conditions were altered, as a result of clearing, the weaker species would not survive, and so the remaining species are predicted to dominate the forest. The domination of select species decreases the biodiversity of an area and threatens other species that rely on a well- balanced ecosystem. For instance, the Slender Wiry Lianes rely on tall trees to wrap their roots around as they spiral to the top of the canopy to reach the sunlight. If the Liane is unable to climb towards the sunlight, it cannot undertake Photosynthesis to make food for itself and can no longer respire, causing the elimination of this species from the ecosystem (SRL, n.d.). A section of the rainforest cannot be cleared because the abiotic conditions would be altered and many native species rely on these abiotic conditions to survive. By clearing a section of the rainforest, the process of decomposition would also be affected, which limits the resources available to species and disrupts the functioning of the entire ecosystem.

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Site 3 had the lowest temperature and therefore the highest humidity, which follows the trend in all 3 sites. The trend identifies that “If the amount of water vapour in the air increases, the relative humidity increases, and if the amount of water vapour in the air decreases, the relative humidity decreases” (NC State University, 2013). While humidity is dependent on the water vapour in the air, it is also affected by the air temperature, as noticed at all 3 sites, and supported by NC State University. “If the water vapour content stays the same and the temperature drops, the relative humidity increases. If the water vapour content stays the same and the temperature rises, the relative humidity decreases. This is because colder air doesn’t require as much moisture to become saturated as warmer air” (NC State University, 2013). The canopy of Site 3 was fairly dense because the area was partially, but not completely logged. This meant that more light was present than Site 2 because there were some openings in the canopy, but not as much light as Site 1 because the canopy at Site 1 was much more sparse. There is a clear relationship between light and canopy coverage, as supported by the Offwell Woodland and Wildlife Trust, “The closer trees are to each other, the more their individual leaf canopies will overlap and the less light will be able to filter through to the ground” (Offwell Woodland and Wildlife Trust, n.d.).

None of the special life forms in site 1 were found in site 3, but both site 2 and site 3 contained Tree palms (feather leaf), trees ferns, Palm Lianes, Robust Woody Lianes, Slender wiry Lianes, strangler figs, thorn/prickles, buttresses and coppice. Epiphytes were found at the Site 2 but not at Site 3, perhaps because the unlogged site was warmer. Epiphytes prefer warmer climates because temperature is linked to light. More direct sunlight is advantageous to Epiphytes because they require direct sunlight for the process of Photosynthesis. This statement is support by Butler, “Their epiphytic way of life gives these plants advantages in the rainforest, allowing them access to more direct sunlight, a greater number of canopy animal pollinators, and the possibility of dispersing their seeds via wind” (Butler, 2004). 1000m[2] of the rainforest should not be cleared because the native plant species in the rainforest rely on the abiotic components regulated by the canopy. The removal of this canopy would decrease the biodiversity and could lead to the endangerment or extinction of native species.

4.0 Consequences

4.1 Environmental

“It is estimated that within 100 years there will be no rainforests” (Conserve Energy Future, 2016). It is important to preserve rainforests to reduce greenhouse gas emission, prevent soil erosion, floods and climatic imbalance, and to prevent the extinction of native flora and fauna. When trees are removed, the amount of Carbon Dioxide increases because Photosynthesis can no longer occur. “Photosynthesis filters carbon dioxide gases out the air and releases oxygen” (Green Garage, 2015). Without this process, green houses gases build up and contribute to global warming. When trees are dug up or bulldozed from the ground, soil erosion and salinity occurs as a result. “The effects of soil erosion go beyond the loss of fertile land. It has led to increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers, clogging these waterways and causing declines in fish and other species. And degraded lands are also often less able to hold onto water, which can worsen flooding (WWF, 2016). When a habitat is cleared, the native flora and fauna species are forced to migrate of they die. Often, species that do manage to migrate cannot adapt to a new environment and also die. The loss of habitat and flowing consequences of deforestation are reasons why 1000m[2] of land should not be cleared.

4.2 Educational

One advantage of removing a section of the rainforest to build more accommodation is the increase in the number of students who can camp at PEEC to learn about the rainforest. By inviting more school and University students into the rainforest, students can experience the wonder of nature and understand the important of preserving its natural beauty. By being able to accommodate more students, the future generations are empowered to protect the Paluma Range National Park and other National Parks in Australia. This is important to educate people about the need to protect endangered species so that they do not become extinct. While this can be advantageous, it contradicts the message being conveyed to students. The message being conveyed is to reduce deforestation because of the environmental impacts, but by clearing land to make space for these facilities, a section of the rainforest needed to be cleared. This reinforces the existing message that many people do not value protecting the rainforest and this reduces the impact on the message. There are alternatives, which can be suggested to ensure that students are able to be accommodated without have a significant impact on the rainforest, which will be stated in the recommendations (Refer to 5.0 Recommendations).


Excerpt out of 14 pages


Ecosystem Dynamics In Paluma and Crystal Creek Rainforest
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Ecology, Rainforest, Biology, A standard, Exemplar, North Queensland, Biota, Biotic, Abiotic, Recommendation, Conservation, Deforestation, Impacts, Ecosystem
Quote paper
Kassidy-Rose McMahon (Author), 2016, Ecosystem Dynamics In Paluma and Crystal Creek Rainforest, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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