Sample Research Paper on Ecology of South Florida

Ecological interaction refers to manner in which various flora and fauna associate with each other to inhibit or promote mutual evolution and growth of different populations. Ecological interactions may occur as parasitism, predation, commensalism, or competition. Consequently, animal and plant species can affect each other positively or negatively. Such relationship exists because the floral and faunal species have many linkages and any changes in the composition of populations through the introduction of new species or removal of native species have far-reaching consequences on the ecological stability. Plants and animals cannot exist in isolation, and they must depend on other species to survive and thrive in their environments. According to Kelley, Kowalewski, and Hansen, competition and predation are among the most important ecological interactions because they help in controlling the function and structure of communities in addition to influencing the abundance and distribution of plants and animals (1).

The major factors that influence the distribution and abundance of organisms in South Florida’s Everglades are predation and competition between various species. Predation is important because it helps in controlling the number of herbivores and organisms in the lower tropic levels, and this reduces the pressure on plants. The removal of a major predator in a food web may result in the collapse of an ecosystem because the herbivores would consume all the plants leading to famine. However, an increase in the number of predators may also lead to a collapse of the ecosystem because the predators would eat all the herbivores. Some of the main predators in South Florida’s Everglades include snail kites, limpkins, stone crabs, oyster drills, and alligators among others. For example, Lodge points out that predatory fishes help in controlling the number of Riverine grass shrimps, and the shrimps act as a crucial link for the fish-eating birds in the Everglades (178).

During the El Nino events, South Florida experiences wetter and warmer conditions that have positive and negative impacts on the Everglades. As Lodge points out, the El Nino phenomenon occurs between three and seven years and may last for two years or more (20). Some of the positive impacts of the El Nino events include a reduction in the risks of forest fires due to the wet conditions. This is important because it protects the flora and fauna from large-scale deaths due to the fires. However, the El Nino events also have adverse consequences on South Florida’s Everglades as well as the economy. Some of the negative impacts of the El Nino included increased storminess throughout the region, and this results in the inundation of the area. Consequently, the wet conditions that result from the El Nino phenomenon prevents tourists from visiting the Everglades to view the plants and animals.

Florida’s platform consists of underformed carbonate rocks, and some of the main deposits in the area include limestone, sandstone, and clay deposits. The sediments are sedimentary and the deposits did not go through metamorphosis during their formation. Fossil records indicate that the platform formed about 4 million years ago after a portion separated from an area in North Africa. Florida formed due to tectonic movement in addition to deposition of carbonate rocks as the platform moved to its new position over several million years. The Florida platform exists between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The fossil records indicate that the platform did not have tree islands during its formation, and most of the tree islands have less than 2,000 years in existence (Lodge 55).

Works Cited

Hansen, Thor A, Patricia H. Kelley, and Michał Kowalewski. Predator-prey Interactions in the Fossil Record. New York [u.a.: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2003. Print.

Lodge, Thomas E. The Everglades handbook: understanding the ecosystem. CRC Press, 2010.