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Eutrophication

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Managing eutrophication is a key element in maintaining the earths biodiversity. Eutrophication is a process mostly associated with human activity whereby ecosystems accumulate minerals. This free course explains how this process occurs, what its effects on different types of habitat are, and how it might be managed.

After studying this course, 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).

By: The Open University

  • Duration 12 hours
  • Updated Tuesday 22nd March 2016
  • Intermediate level
  • Posted under Environmental Science
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Eutrophication

Introduction

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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 OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 2 study in Environment & Development [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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