Location [Stds. 1, 3]
Place [Stds. 4, 7, 9, 10]
Human-Environment Interaction [Stds. 8, 12, 14-18]
Movement [Stds. 11, 13]
Regions [Stds. 2, 5, 6]


 Standard 8: Characteristics
and Spatial Distribution of Ecosystems

The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on earth's surface

TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHARACTERISTICS OF ECOSYSTEMS

Ecosystems are communities of life forms within a given physical environment. Within each ecosystem — whether terrestrial or aquatic — plants, animals, minerals, and people interact.

Within East Asia many diversified habitats — forests, marshes, grasslands, aquatic ecosystems (such as those associated with freshwater rivers and lakes), as well as coastal ecosystems — have taken shape through the interaction of complex climate and geomorphic conditions. Human-made ecosystems — urban parks, canals, coastal port structures — have also existed for centuries.

// FRAGILITY OF ECOSYSTEMS
Ecosystems throughout East Asia, as elsewhere in the world, have become increasingly fragile. Indeed ecosystems have been seriously degraded or destroyed over the past half century by population growth and economic development. This, in turn, has led to an unsustainable rush to consume natural resources, whether timber, coal, or fish.
Humans throughout East Asia continue to assault not only those ecosystems that are still fundamentally natural but also the ecosystems characteristic of urban areas.
As the rapid transformation of ecosystems is increasingly acknowledged in East Asia, it is important to acknowledge the existence of agro-ecosytems, especially since so much of East Asia has literally been transformed by human action over millennia.
// ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Environmental sustainability is now the mantra heard in East Asia, just as it is heard elsewhere in the world. Indeed, the earth's ecosystems transcend political boundaries and must be viewed within a global context. As populations grow and increasingly consume land, water, and other raw materials, ecosystems of every type are stressed and sometimes irreversibly transformed.

LINK: What Are Ecosystems? [Journey to Planet Earth, PBS] This website presents an excellent general discussion of the types of ecosystems, as well as the contemporary threats to the earth's fragile ecosystems.

CASE STUDY: CHINA
// CHANG JIANG (YANGZI OR YANGTZE RIVER) DELTA
LINK: Stories of Hope, The Yangtze River Delta, China [Journey to Planet Earth, PBS] This website examines one of China's most populated river ecosystems. With text, video, and photographs.
// SHANGHAI

LINK: Stories of Hope, Shanghai, China [Journey to Planet Earth, PBS] This website looks at Shanghai, a coastal city that epitomizes the modern dilemmas of large urban ecosystems, with its mix of wealth and poverty, international commerce and rural street vendors, population growth and shrinking space.

CASE STUDY: VIETNAM
// MEKONG DELTA

LINK: Stories of Hope, Mekong Delta, Vietnam [Journey to Planet Earth, PBS] This website looks at the Mekong Delta ecosystem, which sustains 15 million Vietnamese who live on and among its wetlands. With text, video, and photographs.