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Literature Review

The Jack in the Box Gull, which is located in Proutes, St. Thomas, Barbados, is an eco
tourism site in Barbados (Gloria Small, Barbados Pocket guide, 2011) which is home to many
different plant and animal species. Lammings Gully is located in St Joseph.

A gully is defined as a water worn ravine. It can be formed by either repeated flow of
water forming a ditch or by a cave falling in causing ecological succession to occur.

Phosphates and nitrates are essential nutrients in soil for organisms. According to Bcc
GCSE Bitesize 2014, plants need nitrates in order to synthesize proteins which are used for plant
growth and development and also it is an important part of the chlorophyll. (Why Does a Plant
Need Nitrates SFGATE). Without the nitrates plants will experience limited growth and will also
have yellow leaves and will not be able to flower adequately enough to reproduce and synthesize
its one food since nitrates are needed in chlorophyll which is the green pigment found in plants’
chloroplasts where photosynthesis occurs. The animals, bacteria, and fungi found in soil also fix
the nitrogen into a form in which the plants can uptake it and use it. These plants then provide
the nitrogen to the animals living in the soil in a form they can utilize it. Nitrates enter into soil
by either surface run off, binding to soil particles from the atmosphere, or by underground water
systems. Phosphates are essential component of nucleic acids which regulates and controls
protein synthesis, and thus are very important in cell division, development and growth in plants
and animals. (Buckman, H. L., Brady, N. C. 1960. The Nature and Properties of Soils. 6th Ed.,
The Macmillian Company, NY.) Phosphates enter the soil through the constant weathering of
rocks. They then dissolve in the soil because of the presence of water. When water enters the
plant roots through osmosis, the phosphate ions will also be transported through the plant. The
plant then uses the phosphate to carry out its life processes and other organisms living in the soil
obtain the phosphates by eating the plants whether the plants or alive or if they are decaying and
subsequently then eating these animals that ate the plants. (Lennetch 2015). The levels of
phosphates and nitrates are variable and subjective to the plants. Some plants can survive in
extremely low phosphate and nitrate levels while other plants need extremely high nitrate and
phosphate levels. The recommended phosphate and nitrogen levels in soil are 20ppm and 10 ppm
respectively. At these levels, plant growth will flourish. The factors which affect phosphates and
nitrates availability in soil are essentially the same and include pH, temperature, type of soil,
presence of agricultural waste, fertilisers, and presence of aluminium and iron oxides in the soil.

Humidity is the presence of water within the atmosphere and temperature is the degree of
how warm or cold an object or substance is or area is, measured on a definite scale. (Merriam-
Webster dictionary). Temperature is very important in gully ecosystems since the organism
living in it can only survive between a certain optimum range. Tropical plants have an optimum
range of 24-32°C. This is because the cells in the plants also only have a certain temperature
optimal range. Above this, the enzymes in the plants will not be able to function and they will
then become denatured which result in death of the plant. The cells in the plants will also
experience rapid water lost and become flaccid, if this state continues for too long the plant will
wither and die. Below the optimum temperature range, basically the same thing will happen. The
temperature is too low for the enzymes and cells to function and as a result the plant will also die
because it cannot carry out the required life processes efficiently enough in order to survive.
These instances also apply to animals and other organisms present in the gully. The main factor
that influences temperature in gullies is the presence of water. Since water has an extremely high
heat capacity it can absorb large amounts of heat energy from the atmosphere before a
temperature change is experienced. This is why humidity and temperature are often linked
together. Gullies are relatively cool because of the high humidity levels present in them. The
water in the atmosphere absorbs heat energy thus cooling the environment. Humidity then
therefore is important in maintaining temperature levels in order to provide a constant
environment for animals in a ecosystem. Also it is essential in providing water for plants in order
for them to synthesize their foods, cooling down plant bodies, cooling down the organisms
among other things. Humidity levels are affected by the transpiration rates of plants and how
quickly and how much water vapour they are releasing to the atmosphere. Many plants require
60% humidity levels to thrive.

pH, according to Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. ThoughtCo. August 31 2017, is a


measure of the hydrogen ion concentration. Therefore soil pH is the measure of hydrogen ion
concentration in soil. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, where 0 is strongly acidic, 7 is neutral,
and 14 is strongly alkaline. Soil pH is very important in the solubitly of nutrients, minerals,
growth of organisms and the ability of them to thrive. Nutrients and minerals have to dissolve in
soil before plants can utilize them and majority of them are more soluble in acidic soils leading
to soils being more acidic than basic. It must be noted that extremely acidic soils can lead to high
concentrations of ions such as aluminium and iron which can be toxic to plants. Bacteria that
decompose soil organic matter and partake in the nitrogen cycle cannot function in very acidic
soil conditions. These two factors lead to soils being slightly acidic to neutral which is the
optimum for the organisms. Changes in soil pH can stem from previous rainfall causing surface
run off which can take away basic ions from the soil decreasing pH, making the soil more acidic,
and organic and inorganic substances and carbon dioxide dissolving in the soil forming organic
and inorganic acids in the soil which also makes the soil more acidic. (Soil pH: What It Means,
Donald Bickelhaupt, Instructional Support Specialist, Department of Forest and Natural
Resources Management, College of Environmental Science and Forestry)

Species diversity is defined as the different amount of species present within an


ecosystem (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Species diversity is very important in ecosystems in
order for it to be stable and have optimum productivity occurring in it. (Global Issues.org What
is biodiversity?) All organisms have a niche or a specified role to carry out in an ecosystem. If an
ecosystem has a variety of organism with both similar and different ecological niches, the overall
sustainability and chances of survival of that ecosystem will be extremely high. Species diversity
enables more of the fundamental niches in an ecosystem to become realized niches which means
more of the ecosystem is being utilized and niches are being fulfilled. The calculation for species

diversity is . The value of D ranges between 0 and 1 where 0 represents


infinite diversity and 1, no diversity. That is, the bigger the value of D, the lower the diversity.