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Biomes of Hawaii

World's Biomes Biomes are defined as "the world's major communities, classified according to the predominant vegetation and characterized by adaptations of organisms to that particular environment" (Campbell 1996). The importance of biomes cannot be overestimated. Biomes have changed and moved many times during the history of life on Earth. More recently, human activities have drastically altered these communities. Thus, conservation and preservation of biomes should be a major concern to all (http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibits/biomes/) Conservation and preservation of biomes Because we share the world with many other species of plants and animals, we must consider the consequences of our actions. Over the past several decades, increasing human activity has rapidly destroyed or polluted many ecological habitats throughout the world. It is important to preserve all types of biomes as each houses many unique forms of life. However, the continued heavy exploitation of certain biomes, such as the forest, freshwater, and marine, may have more severe implications. Forests are important as they are home to the most diverse biotic communities in the world. Hidden within these biomes are potential medicines and many thousands of unseen and undiscovered species. Also, forests have a global climate-buffering capacity, so their destruction may cause large-scale changes in global climate. Logging has depleted many old-growth temperate forests. The increased demand for homes, paper, and other wood products have not allowed for much conservation. More recently, people have begun to realize that logging has cleared much of these forests. Wiser use of the forests and efforts to replant trees have helped to slow down the depletion of these communities. Tropical forests have fallen victim to timber exploitation, slash and burn farming, and clearfelling for industrial use or cattle ranching, particularly in Latin America. Our increasing demand for meat products has spurred these events. For years, this destruction was occurring at a rapid rate. Over half of the world's original tropical forests are already gone. Public attention to this exploitation have

helped to alleviate the problem somewhat, though many challenges are still to be faced. The freshwater and marine biomes are probably the most important of all the biomes. Their medium, water, is a major natural resource. Water is the basis of life, it supports life, and countless species live in it for all or part of their lives. Freshwater biomes supply us with our drinking water and water for crop irrigation. The world's oceans have an even greater effect on global climate than forests do. Water has a high capacity for heat, and because the Earth is mostly covered with water, the temperature of the atmosphere is kept fairly constant and able to support life. In addition to this climate-buffering capacity, the oceans contain several billion photosynthetic plankton which account for most of the photosynthesis occurring on Earth. Without these, there might not be enough oxygen to support such a large world population and complex animal life. Freshwater biomes have suffered mainly from pollution. Runoff containing fertilizer and other wastes and industrial dumpings enter into rivers, ponds, and lakes and tend to promote abnormally rapid algae growth. When these algae die, dead organic matter accumulates in the water. This makes the water unusable and it kills many of the organisms living in the habitat. Stricter laws have helped to slow down this thoughtless pollution. Overfishing and pollution have threatened to make oceans into ecological disaster areas. Industrial pollutants that are dumped upstream of estuaries have rendered many marine habitats unsuitable for life. Again, tighter regulations have been used to prevent further destruction of the ocean biomes. By educating people about the consequences of our actions, we can all gain a better understanding of how to preserve the Earth's natural biomes. The areas that have been destroyed the most will never regain their original forms, but conservation will help to keep them from getting worse.

Activity 1: General Description of Biomes


Describe the five major types of Biomes listed below; also describe its climate, and provide an example of its predominant vegetation and fauna: 1. Aquatic

2. Tundra

3. Deserts

4. Forests

5. Grasslands

6. How are the general characteristics of plants (for example, morphology) influenced by climate? In other words, explain what effects climate has on the types of plants that grow in an area. 7. In general, how is the distribution of major ecosystems or biomes related to climate? If you know the mean annual precipitation and the mean annual temperature of an area, would you be able to accurately predict the type of biome that could exist there? Explain. 8. Why isnt Earths climate uniform? To answer this, summarize the major factors that can produce differences in climate from place to place.

Activity 2: Precipitation on Oahu


Our islands of Hawaii have some of the most unique and diverse ecosystems in the world. One reason it is so unique is the many climate types that can be found on one island alone. The tradewinds and elevation have a lot to do with the differing moisture, temperature, and precipitation, which vary considerably among our islands. For instance on Kauai, Mt. Waialeale (5148 ft above sea level) is regarded as the wettest spot on the planet. It receives 460 inches of rainfall per year. On the same island you also have one of the driest locations, Barking Sands Desert, which receives 8 inches of rainfall a year. 1. What is the rain-shadow effect?

2. Draw a rain shadow based on one of our islands.

This map shows the annual rainfall levels (in inches) for various locations over the island of Oahu. High precipitation levels are closely tied to rising air moving up a mountain.

Pacific Disaster Center

Annual precipitation in inches for selected locations on Oahu.

Quick Link to Hawaii Rainfall Data USGS: http://hi.water.usgs.gov/ 3. What are the three places with the highest annual precipitation levels, and where are they located on the island? 3.1. 3.2. 3.3. 4. What are the three places with the lowest annual precipitation levels, and where are they located on the island? 4.1. 4.2. 4.3. 5. Compare vegetation, rainfall, and humidity for Waianae, Manoa, Kaneohe, and Diamondhead

Activity 3: Ecological Systems on Oahu

Hawaii's Primary Terrestrial Biomes Coastal strand Deserts Dry woodlands Subalpine grassland/ shrubland Tropical rainforest Alpine deserts Mesic forests Three controlling factors determine biome formation in Hawaii are Climate, Substrate and Elevation. The main climatic factor is the Northeast Trade Winds. Elevation affects temperature and rainfall. Above 3000 meters it is typically dry. Clouds don't hold much moisture above this height. The Ko'olau's often block rainfall from reaching the leeward side of Oahu. Hawaiis biomes are classified based on its elevation, moisture regime, dominant life forms and vegetation structure.

Hawaiis five elevation zones: Coastal 0-30 m Lowland 30-1000 m Montane 1000-2000 m Subalpine 2000-3000 m Alpine > 3000 m Moisture Classification For each elevation zone, three general moisture categories are recognized: Dry - < 120 cm/yr (47in) Mesic - 121-249 cm/yr (46-97 in) Wet - > 250 cm/yr (98in) Mesic Habitat A habitat with a moderate or well-balanced moisture supply. Example, a temperate hardwood forest or dry-mesic prairie. Several dominant plant and vegetative structures are recognized: Vegetative Structures Forests dense canopy has 60-100% coverage Woodland is more open, with 10-60% canopy Shrublands are distinguished by shrubs > 1m high Dwarf shrublands have a canopy height of 1 m or less Herblands are composed of small, nonwoody plants Deserts receive less than 25 cm/yr of precipitation and are sparsely vegetated 1. What biome would you find `Akohekohe, `Io, hia, pupu kani oe, nananana makaki`i, and pee pee maka? Describe and attach a picture.

2. Besides humans, name and describe three invasive animals or plants that have had the greatest impact on Hawaiian biomes,?