- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Effects of eutrophication
- 3 Causes and mechanisms of eutrophication
- 4 Managing eutrophication
- 4.1 Measuring and monitoring eutrophication
- 4.2 Reducing eutrophication
- 4.3 Reducing the nutrient source
- 4.3 Reducing the nutrient source, continued
- 4.4 Reducing nutrient availability
- 5 Summary
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Managing eutrophication is a key element in maintaining the earth's biodiversity....
Managing eutrophication is a key element in maintaining the earth's biodiversity. Eutrophication is a process mostly associated with human activity whereby ecosystems accumulate minerals. This unit explains how this process occurs, what its effects on different types of habitat are, and how it might be managed.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
- Describe the principal differences between a eutrophic and an oligotrophic ecosystem.
- Explain the mechanisms by which species diversity is reduced as a result of eutrophication. (Questions 2.1 and 2.2)
- Contrast the anthropogenic sources that supply nitrogen and phosphorus to the wider environment, and describe how these sources can be controlled. (Question 3.1)
- Describe how living organisms can be used as monitors of the trophic status of ecosystems. (Question 4.1)
- Compare the advantages and disadvantages of three different methods for combating anthropogenic eutrophication. (Question 4.2)
Eutrophication describes the biological effects of an increase in the concentration of nutrients. The collective term ‘nutrients’ refers to those elements that are essential for primary production by plants or other photosynthetic organisms. Eutrophication is most often caused by increases in the availability of nitrogen and phosphorus, commonly present in soil and water in the form of nitrate and phosphate, respectively. However, altered concentrations of any plant nutrient may have a recognizable biological effect. Eutrophication can occur in any aquatic system (freshwater or marine), and the term is also used to describe the process whereby terrestrial vegetation is affected by nutrient-enriched soil water.
This unit is an adapted extract from the course
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Environmental Science course units or view the range of currently available OU Environmental Science courses.