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Movie- Intimate Strangers.docx

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Environmental Science
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Luc Bernier

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ENVIR SCI 1B03 January 21, 2014 Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth (Movie) In Arizona a small version of earth was made for 8 people to live (biosphere 2) • Many species of plants and animals – a recipe for life • Goal was to sustain life in biosphere 2 • August 1991 – the people were to live in isolation for 2 years • Everything needed for life would be recycled • The concept was that of an ecosphere - - organisms can live for years, nutrients are recycled • All ecological systems flourished in the beginning but oxygen levels began to decrease causing death of many organisms • Plant growth was less abundant so oxygen was less than expected – only a fraction of the loss • Microbes caused this? Why? • Through all of nature microbes governed the cycling of nutrients, example: algae is responsible for half the oxygen worldwide that we breathe • Microbes populate everywhere on Earth - - essential to life o Affect the biggest events throughout the biosphere The View from the Forest • Complex rainforest in Costa Rica and Central America – 230000 species of plants, animals and insects • Time and evolution made this system into a perfect cycling machine with microbes at its very heart • Each species is interconnected • Microbes are the engineers of life • There are microbes everywhere – 5000 species in a teaspoon of soil • Microbes need oxygen and release carbon dioxide • Every living creature has its own microbial group • When life is over, swarms of microbes move in to complete the cycle, example: decomposition of organisms • In the ecosystem as a whole, equilibrium is achieved • Fungi are microorganisms that connect microbes to animals o Supreme decomposers – can penetrate into pieces of wood and breakdown carbon accumulated into these materials • Microbes, in general, are the supreme recyclers bringing carbon fo
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