By Barton E. Worthington
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Extra resources for Arid Land Irrigation in Developing Countries. Environmental Problems and Effects
The process is much the same in water as on land, except that the photosynthesis is usually carried out by algae instead of higher plants. The algae are converted by consump tion by fish, either direct or through organisms in the aquatic food chain, thus reducing the efficiency of primary photosynthesis by a factor of between 5 and 50 before the energy is available as human food. This concept of energy flow through biological systems has been greatly advanced by the International Biological Programme, 1964-1974.
With favorable conditions of light and warmth, organ isms utilize nutrients and minerals to produce abundant plant life of algae and weeds as well as the organisms which thrive on them. Eutrophication has been reported in many large lakes, but it occurs also in small lakes and in farm ponds which are characterized by high-level trophic productivity even though they may lack Zooplankton excesses. Eutrophied waters are high in plankton and organic productivity but display low oxygen tension near dawn and after sunset.
Generally, pesticides are believed to persist longer in water than in soils, and it is probable that most pesticides are readily absorbed onto soil particles. Herbicides in common use have been observed to break down more readily than do insecticides. However, they can alter the ecology of aquatic ecosystems sufficiently to destroy populations of animals associated with plants. Fertilizers have a different and more positive impact on plant growth. The discharge of wastes from fertilizers and other nutrients into rivers and reservoirs is known to cause explosive growth of algae and weeds.