Planet Earth 2 – Islands – Aine Mallon

Planet Earth 2 – Islands – Aine Mallon

Episode One- Islands

Blog by Aine Mallon

Introduction

Due to the circumstances of the pandemic situation regarding the Coronavirus, it is important for one to understand how humans could learn about how animals work with one another to survive in harsh environments. The purpose of this report is to explore the collaborations of different species and how they make living on an island together bearable for one other. Such islands have been described as a microcosm of our living planet. Island ecosystems also contribute to the maintenance of ecosystem functions, they provide defence against natural disasters, support nutrient cycling, and soil and sand formation. They contribute to the regulation of climate and diseases.

How can the size of Islands impact Species and an example?

The size of an island can have a huge influence on the fate of those cast away there.  What this means is that an island’s size also affects its biodiversity, smaller islands will have less niches, less habitats, and lower immigration which negatively impacts the food chain for the area. However, since larger islands will have a wider variety of habitats, species which arrive on the island will diversify to fill up the available niches. Larger habitat size reduces the probability of extinction due to chance events.

Example:

The Komodo dragon in Indonesia dominates the small islands here, but on these mini-continents, life experiments and evolves. The Komodo dragon has been recorded as 2.6 metres long when fully developed, which asks the questions why would such a big predator thrive on a small island when food source may be scarce? These islands are volcanic in origin, the dragons like it hot, with daytime temperatures during the dry season that often reach 95 degrees. As these islands provide warmer temperatures the predators have merely adapted to a reduced food supply. Since in one feeding, they can consume 80% of their body weight therefore, they only need small amounts of food to survive, a meal will last a Komodo dragon a month before it needs to eat again.

Remote Islands

An island, especially a remote one, may be colonised by relatively few species. This allows the members of one species to exploit numerous different lifestyles, or niches. As the individual groups adapt to their different niches, they may evolve into distinct species.

Example

The sea-going iguanas will thrive on volcanic islands, which are remote and lack nutrients they need, although the sea will provide them with their food source. Their short, blunt nose is well-adapted to feeding on algae growing on rocks. The flattened tail is perfect for swimming. Marine iguanas are an excellent example of a species well-adapted and continuing to adapt to their environment

It is important to conserve the biodiversity of the marine iguana because it is a unique and interesting animal. It is necessary to protect their island refuges from feral pests and human exploitation because they are long lived animals that cannot sustain added mortality. By bringing nutrients from the sea to the land, iguanas help other animals to survive here too, by supplying them with a food source. The animals are working together to all survive in this environment.

As the iguanas provide food for such other species, they play their part too. The crabs will eat the dead skin off the iguanas back, this assists the iguanas as it is like an exfoliation for them. As well as this, the smaller lizards that thrive on the volcanic grounds prey on the flies that pester the iguanas. It is evident how the diverse range of species accommodate one another in such a way that benefits them greatly.

What can humans learn from this during COVID-19?

It has been made evident how different species adapt to their surroundings and limited food sources available. As animals work together, we too must help others in our neighbourhood who are older and cannot get out to the shops for essentials very easy, assist them by any means possible. We need to be more sensible with buying essential goods in these unprecedented times, taking into consideration the rest of our community.

Conclusion

Although this report has mainly focused on examples of how animals adapt to change and how humans can bring different changes to their lifestyle during this pandemic. The issue of climate change and human activities regarding the destruction of isolated islands cannot be forgotten.

Island environments are particularly sensitive to human impact because their generally smaller size means resources are limited, scarce or finite, resulting in increased pressure on those resources. The global temperatures could exceed a 3°C above pre-industrial temperature increase by 2100 with global-mean sea level rise projected between one and four feet or higher, all due to climate change and ruin the isolated smaller islands. Human activities must change in a way to reduce their actions that negatively impact and increase climate change.

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