Pick an anthropological activity which alters the abiotic features of a freshwater ecosystem and describe the effects this behavior has on the abiotic features for the zones of this ecosystem.

One anthropological activity that alters abiotic features of a freshwater ecosystem is archaeological digs. This type of activity near freshwater ecosystems can cause disturbances to water levels, pH balance, visibility, toxicity, and more. Even a scientific study to observe these attributes would affect abiotic factors in the environment.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Anthropology has been called "the science of humanity." It studies human beings and focuses on what "makes us human." Anthropologists will study human biology, culture, society, and more in an effort to see what we have in common with each other, other species, and to see what makes humans unique. Anthropology is a wide field, and it is often divided into smaller sub categories. Those four branches are archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology.

Abiotic factors of an ecosystem are non-living factors that are a part of that ecosystem and affect the ecosystem. Things like temperature, pH levels, rainfall, pressure, wind amounts, currents, humidity, soil composition, and/or oxygen levels are all abiotic factors.

In one sense, an anthropologist can't study or do anything within a given ecosystem without affecting it in some way. This is what can make scientific investigations so difficult. A researcher's very presence can change something within the study itself or within the area (in this case an ecosystem) being investigated. This is called the observer effect; however, I believe that this question is looking for a much more concrete example.

Let's say that the anthropologist is an archaeological anthropologist. This person is working on an archaeological dig near a lake. The dig itself will change the water runoff pattern, which effects the larger water cycle. Perhaps the dig causes more runoff to enter the lake. This might cause lake levels to rise. Additionally, the extra runoff might be carrying more sand, dirt, silt, etc., and that may cause changes in water visibility. That could adversely affect existing predator-prey relationships or even the amount of light that is capable of penetrating to specific lake depths. All of those changes exist in addition to toxins that the anthropological activity might introduce to the lake. If any of the nearby equipment is leaking gasoline or oil, those substances can end up in the lake and pollute the water.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team