Ecological factors directly affect the biological activities of the plants. For example, the elements such as light, heat, water, inorganic salts, CO2, O2 are essential to the lives of plants. The growth of the plants depends on the factor which is the most limited among all the factors. This is called Liegig law of the minimum. This law not only applies to the effect of soil nutrient elements on the plants, but also applies to the other factors such as light and temperature.
Ecological niche on the board
Vegetation or the whole ecosystem is working on making the envrionment a better place for their own good, such as water conservation, changes of microenvironment, transformation of the soil, which are regarded as ecological function
Inner Mongolia is an arid place, with an average of 200 mm annual rainfall and 2862.2 mm annual evaporation amount. The shortage of water resource limits the growth of plants in Inner Mongolia. It's important to balance the tree planting and water usage. Let's play the board game to learn more abou this. Try to make plans for your planting, trees, shrubs or grass with the limited water resources.
Suppose the board is sandy land.
Black pieces represent the underground water or some low-lying areas where rainfall can be reserved.
White pieces are categorized into three kinds. First, grass, which needs only one black piece around but only one point for ecological function. Second, shrub, which needs three consecutive black pieces, winning three points in ecological function. Third, tree, which needs five black pieces around, and winning fifteen on ecologcial function.
Three groups will have their specific boards, to deal with differenct places with different water resources
Put the white piece on your board in five minutes, to score highest!
All black pieces
Abudant water resource
You can plant trees as many as you like to score the highest. The lavish situation represents the most ideal ecosystem.
Some lost black pieces
Uneven water resource
Because of the lack of water resource, there is not enough space to plant trees. In this case, you have to choose shrubs and grass instead. Not bad.
Fewer black pieces
Not enough water resource
Why do we plant shrubs?
When talking about tree planting, some people don't understand why we plant shrubs instead of trees in some places sometimes. Like the game we play, the water resource is not ideal all the time. In someplaces, you plant shrubs, and you can score. In real world, it is much more complicated to make the best use of ecological niche.
A mix of trees and shrubs
In addition to the ecological niche, there are other benefits for planting a mix of trees and shrubs, such as shrubs and poplars, shrubs and pines. Together they can be more resilient, especially when growing on the degraded land.
Fix the shifting sandy land
Shrubs and fast-growing trees can grow quickly but have limiting ecological functions. Pines as one of the slow-growing tree types cannot fix the sandy land as quickly as the others. Planting a mix of these tree species will not only help fixing the sandy land but also increase biodiveristy, making the forest sites more resilient.