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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Ecology Lessons, 1

Ecology Lessons, 1

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, July 2, 2018/Categories: natural history, video, sustainability, environment

                          Mangrove Rootsystems, India  (credit: Wikicommons & the Ocean Portal)

Sometimes a simple demonstration offers the best way to understand the mechanics of science underlying a natural phenomenon. They are particularly useful in ecology where ecosystem changes may unfold over several timelines. One ecological process that is especially important to understand considering changes in rising sea level from climate change.

Coastal zones receive protection from waves and storms by diverse eco-mechanisms: dense oyster beds once reduced the action of waves around New York City and the Chesapeake Bay; coral reefs still serve the same function for tropical islands where they survive; seagrass beds and vegetated barrier islands once protected coastal states like Texas and Louisiana; and mangrove forests can prevent beach erosion everywhere the trees grow. All these natural ecosystems are threatened by one destructive situation or another.

The Dutch are particularly interested in controlling the seas from flooding into their lowland country. First the devised windmills to pump out water to create dry land and then they have created vast dike systems to keep the North Sea from flooding back in. They try to help other low-laying countries from their historical experience. The Deltares Institute in Delft, The Netherlands has created an elegant but simple installation to demonstrate how mangrove trees naturally protect coastlines and beaches from erosion in the tropics. Their ecology installation is being exhibited around Southeast Asia where mangroves are being converted into aquaculture farms and from general coastal developments. Their video demonstrates the effects of this ecological process in 12-seconds that any child could understand.

We will showcase other demonstrations of ecology in action as elegant examples become available.



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