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Energy and biomass


Michael Tubby

I had asked why we seemed to have trouble finding big animals. It rained very heavily last night and was raining again today – which is very odd weather for this time of year. He mentioned that it may just be too cool for bugs and reptiles at this time of year (I’d spend an hour netting trees for insects and had found barely anything). He also mentioned that Australia is a low energy system. He recalled an American herpetologist telling him about how easy it was to find reptiles in America, which has a very disturbed environment compared to Australia. He had said it was because Australia was a low energy system.
This made me think of the biomass pyramid, with producers at the base then the different orders of consumers. Plant life is everywhere here, but I wouldn’t say we are in a tropical rainforest. Yet we get so much sunlight! It made me consider possible limiting factors. Water is obviously very scarce – however the national park is full of natural springs sourced by the Great Artesian Basin. I personally suspect that low soil nutrients are what stops sunlight being transformed into plant energy. I know the main rock types here are sandstones, which like Karawatha Forest back home contain very few nutrients. But is this the case Australia wide? Is it fair to say that the WHOLE continent is a low energy system?