How Do Plants And Animals Cause Weathering And Erosion?
How Do Plants And Animals Cause Weathering And Erosion? - Soil is obtained from a process called weathering. Even the clay used for making clay pots is a result of weathering. Huge boulders and rocks break down over a period of time to form particles of soil or sand. There are various types of weathering, like physical or mechanical weathering as well as chemical weathering. When rocks and minerals decay away naturally on the earth’s surface, weathering is caused.
Weathering Caused By Animals And Plants
Sometimes chemical processes break down rocks and at times, physical forces break down rocks. At times both the processes work leading to weathering. Living organisms besides air and water are also responsible for breaking boulders and rocks. When weathering is caused by animals and plants, it is termed as biological weathering. A large number of animals also make tunnels through hard rock and under the ground. Surface rocks also get crushed when animals tread on them and also deposit materials of organic nature which interact with the minerals in rocks thus causing weathering over a period of time. Even earthworms make tunnels in the ground which leads to the breakdown of stones and rocks over a period of time. Plants are responsible for chemical and mechanical weathering both. Lichen and weathering moss grow on rock surfaces and releases chemicals. Minerals from the rocks get dissolved due to these chemicals.
Plant roots at times grow deep into the cracks present in the rocks. As the plants and the roots grow thick and go deep in search of water for survival, the rocks begin to break. Even during cultivation, the rocks are exposed to water and air which are also agents of weathering. The broken rocks due to constant exposure to air and water keep breaking down and decreasing the size of rocks leading to the formation of soil. Rocks have small crevices in which seeds may fall and grow into plants. Roots of the plants are quite strong to split the rock. This process is called as root wedging.
Some of the plants and trees also release chemicals that are acidic in nature and cause weathering of soil, rocks, and minerals present around them. Water is responsible also for weathering. Plants and trees have an effect on the way water weathers away soils and rocks. Water gets channelized in different directions due to trees and plants causing weathering. Impact of rain falling on the ground gets influenced by trees and plants. Plants also have an effect on the speed and direction of wind near the ground surface.
Erosion Caused By Plants And Animals
Both animals and plants impact the landscape on a large scale by moving soil, rocks, making dens, digging tunnels, blocking or rivers, changing the course of rivers, etc. Human civilization has been expanding on a large scale and has impacted the surroundings a lot. The organizational and technological advances made have altered the natural form of the earth. Rivers are also been straightened, water bodies and lakes too are being created and expansion of beaches is prevented, etc. which also have side effects like erosion.
A large number of animals burrow holes inside the ground. At times there are a large number of burrowing animals that fill up huge land sections with numerous tunnels. This leads to a collapse of tunnels and the broken rocks and soil gets washed away easily. Animals grazing along eat up a large amount of vegetation and plantation which leads to erosion. Muskrat is an animal known to burrow holes near the banks of rivers and in the process makes the river banks weaker. Cattle grazing around also cause considerable damage and erosion. Plants are pulled away while eating and in the process, a lot of soil also gets loosened which causes erosion.
Forests are being cut down in large numbers all over the world. Erosion increases due to deforestation or cutting down of forests by man. Large land areas are cleared up for making buildings and different kinds of structures which also causes erosion. Felling of trees is done on a large scale for making paper, furniture and a lot of things, but not many plants are planted again to maintain an adequate number of trees all over the world.
The soil gets detached or weathers away from particles of soil or rocks. The land is making unproductive by removing a large number of trees which can also lead to low rainfall and drought besides erosion. Erosion up to a certain extent is normal but if it increases then the environment faces serious consequences. Soil erosion needs to be controlled and this awareness needs to be increased in people all across the world. The devastating effects of soil erosion can affect both plant and animal life in the future.
Even mining is done on a large scale by man for various purposes which lead to loosening of rocks and soil, leading to erosion in the process. In fact, the number of mountains and hills are being reduced due to extensive mining all over the world.
Efforts were taken by mankind to reduce erosion
Mankind has already realized how harmful excessive erosion can have a negative effect on life and accordingly preventive measures are being taken. Contour farming, afforestation, gardening, shifting of vegetation, tillage conservation, etc are some of the measures taken for controlling erosion of soil. Trees that can prevent soil erosion can be planted like the yarrow flower plants, the native plants as well as willow trees. Certain land areas are prone to erosion and on such land, animals can be prevented from grazing to reduce erosion. To prevent the soil from getting eroded besides planting trees, land areas will need to be watered also.
Humans, water and wind are responsible for soil and rock erosion. The wind is known to be a tectonic type of erosion since it can move away rocks and transfer soil from one place to another. Humans are not paying proper attention to creative management of land which is causing a lot of soil and rocks to erode away from the surface of the earth.