M2Q8: Ecosystems

“Ecosystems are the planets life support system – for the human species and all other forms of life” (MEA, 2005). In the light of this statement answer the questions that follow:

  1. What are ecosystem services?
    Ecosystem services are the goods and services that nature provides to better human living.

  2. List the ecosystem services categories and describe them.
    • Provisioning: goods produced by the nature that human takes directly (Food, water)
    • Cultural: emotional and psychological benefits humans obtained from nature (spiritual, educational, recreational)
    • Regulating: processes that reduce the harmful effects of natural processes for human (Climate, flood, disease regulations)
    • Supporting: generation process that supports the other three categories (Photosynthesis, Nutrient cycle, soil formation)

  3. Use the Costanza et all (2006) study used in the lecture to defend the quote from MEA (2005) presented at the beginning of the question.

M2Q6: Silviculture

What is Silviculture? List the major silviculture practices in BC and describe them. Why is the development of novel silviculture practices useful in the context of a changing climate? use the pine beetle epidemic example as part of your answer.

Silviculture is the growing and cultivation of the trees. Practices in BC are: 

  • clearcutting: all or most of the trees in an area are uniformly cut down. It is safe and economically beneficial, but some view this as deforestation.
  • seed-tree: preserve some seed-trees in the area for preserving the ecosystem and regeneration of the kind.
  • shelterwood: trees are removed from a series of cuts, allowing slow regenerations.
  • selection: cut the tree while still maintaining the keeping the age of the species of the trees diverse.

Pine beetles attacks weaker or older trees while speeding up the growing process of younger developing trees. It also kills the commercial trees. With doing too much of the tree cutting, we are losing photosyntheses and therefore leaving more greenhouse gas (CO2)  in the atmosphere that warms the climate. The beetles survives well in warm weather and continue to kill massive trees if continues. 


Refer to the figure below and answer the following questions:

  1. The figure shows that Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world. Where are these reserves located and in what form?
    The oil reserves in Canada lies mainly in Alberta and are found in oil sands in the form of bitumen, which is a heavy form of petroleum.

  2. Explain the concept of EROEI. Provide some typical EROEI along with the fuel type. Provide the source for your data.
    Energy return on investment is the ratio on how much usable energy is obtained and how much energy spent in the process to obtain the usable energy. If EROEI is greater than 1, more usable energy is obtained. Less, otherwise.
    EROEI = quantity of energy supplied / quantity of energy used in the supply process.

  3. What is the EROEI for the fuel extracted in Canada and your source for this number? Is it an issue? Explain.
    According to Murphy and Hall (2010), EROEI for crude oil is 2 to 4 : 1. It is an issue as it cost more for Canada to get their oil.

M2Q4: Carbon Cycle

Draw and explain the global carbon cycle. List all major compartments and fluxes and indicate which compartments are sources and which compartments are sinks. (Use appropriate and well defined units). Describe which compartments are the most influential in the cycle and why.

Global carbon cycle is how the carbon cycle throughout the globe. The major compartments include atmosphere, plants, fossil fuels, soils, and ocean. Fluxes is the movement of the carbon from one compartment to another. Major fluxes including burning fossil fuels, ocean loss and uptake, photosynthesis, soil and plant respiration, and litterfall. 

Carbon source is those components that release more carbon to the other component, which is fossil fuel. Carbon sink is those that absorb more carbon than releasing. Ocean, atmosphere, plants, and soil are examples of the sink.


Ocean is the most influential compartment as cold water absorbing more CO2 than warm water and 70% of Earth’s surface is ocean. The burning of fossil fuels come in second as the human activity of this use is increasing.

M2Q3: Biomes

Refer to the figure presented below and answer the questions that follow:


  1. What does the figure shown above shows? Copy the figure on your answer sheet and label all the missing information.
    The graph shows the relationship between the climate and the development of biomesbiomesA
  2. What classification criteria are used in the figure?
    This graph looks at the temperature and precipitation  so it’s related to the climate. It also look at the vegetation in relation to the climate. So the classification criteria are ‘BIO’ (vegetation) and ‘Climate’.

  3. Based on the classification criteria, what sort of classification would Surrey fall under? Justify your answer by providing adequate values and your source for these values.
    According to the data from weathernetwork (2013), the annual average of precipitation in Surrey is 1354mm = 135.4cm and the average temperature is ranging roughly from 3 to 18 degree Celsius. Surrey, therefore, falls into the category of temperate seasonal forest

M2Q2: Biodiversity

Refer to the graph presented below and answer the questions that follow:


  1. Define the concept of species’ richness and species’ evenness.
    Species richness is a count of number of different species in a given area. The more species found in an area, the richer it is.
    Species evenness is the relative number of individuals among the taxa (proportion)

  2. Explain the shape of the graph.
    This is a type B graph that says species richness increases with increasing number of individuals encountered. The first species encountered is most likely to be a common one. Then the occurrence of meeting the rare one increases as time progress.

  3. How might an ecosystem with a higher species diversity look like compared to the graph shown above?

M2Q1: Ecological Footprint

A cattle farm has an area of 10 kilometer square, but an estimated ecological footprint of several times the area of the farm. With this statement in mind, answer the following questions:

  1. What is an ecological footprint and how is it calculated?
    Ecological footprint is a measure of human consumption of natural resources in comparison to Earth’s ecological capacity to regenerate them. The primary goal is to answer the question: How much of the Earth’s resources do our lifestyle require? We then analyze the result to see if the Earth is capable of sponsoring it. The calculation is complex that takes everything that the humans do (consume/produce) in practice into account.

  2. Why might the ecological footprint of the farm be several times its area?
    Ecological footprint includes everything we do and the area of land is not the only factor. On a cattle farm, we need to take into account on how much food we provide the cattles, how much waste do they produce,  how much land do they use, etc.

  3. What are some of the criticism levied at the concept of ecological footprints? Are these criticisms justified?
    1. Science’s View:
      Footprint analysis is a oversimplification while the interactions with nature are complex. 

      Footprint is good enough to show the overall picture. It is believed that footprint analysis can avoid paralysis and may actually underestimate the human impact on the environment. However, I would argue that it might be overestimated at the same time.

    2. Market’s View:
      Environmental problems are due to poorly defined property rights or prices. If prices are right, market will solve the problems (such as adding carbon tax).
      Footprint analysis may help determine true costs and not everything in the nature can be priced.

    3. Technology’s View:
      eople have been worried about running out resources for hundreds of years. Technology has been a big part of solutions as we have higher production, higher living standards, better medical systems, etc. It is led to believe that human technology has the potential to solving any problems in the future.

      Technology efficiency might not grow fast enough to meet the demand from global economy. Also, the invention might actually consume more energy