How Does Acid Rain Affect Plants and Animals?
Nobody would deny the fact that acid rain does not bring any good to our environment. Especially, plants and animals are the most affected ones from it.
As these two sections are depended on one another, if one of them is harmed, the other one will have to eventually pay for that.
The ecosystem between animals and plants are in danger because of acid rain.
It results in an environmental imbalance. Eventually, we humans will also have to face problems too.
Therefore, it is important to know how acid rain affects these two vital elements of our environment.
Acknowledging this, you can at least make yourself aware and try to bring environmental change in your community.
How Acid Rain Happens
Acid rain consists of two harmful chemicals, sulfuric and nitric acid.
At first, industries and power-stations along with volcanos and lightning strikes release fossil fuels and oil into the atmosphere.
Later on, sulfuric dioxide and nitric oxygen that comes with fossil fuels and oil engage with oxygen, water, and other chemicals into the atmosphere.
These altogether make a chemical reaction and end up making sulfuric and nitric acid. These two acids then fall on the surface of the earth.
Effects on Plants
Acid rain not only damages the plants but also it stops the growth of plants above the surface. For growing, a plant must need essential nutrients and minerals.
Acid rain falls on the surface and dissolves the valuable nutrients and minerals from the soil.
Therefore, plants cannot grow properly due to the acidic soil. It becomes more problematic for the crops such as rice.
The entire production of an area can be damaged due to this.
Micro organisms are also affected by acid rain. It decays organic matter which is essential for the nutrients of the soil.
The killing of the microbes reduces the availability of nutrients in both the soil and plants.
Furthermore, acid rain damages the waxy layers of the leaves. It makes the plants more vulnerable to diseases.
The surviving capability of plants under extreme climatic conditions such as storms, heavy rainfall, and drought spells drastically decreases.
Things do not just end here; the acid rain also affects the overall productivity and germination process in trees and plants.
Furthermore, acid rain releases toxic substances like aluminum into the soil. It makes the trees unable to pull water from the soil.
The impacts of acid rain are understandable in the production of radish, carrot, beetroot, and broccoli. It reduces yield to an excessive extent.
Acid rain damages the protective layer of the leaves and interferes with the evaporation process. Therefore, the plants cannot breathe properly.
Effects on Animals
The effects of acid rain on animals are seen in the aquatic environment and wildlife. Acid rain flows into streams and lakes through the soil.
It carries aluminum from soil clay particles and introduces it to the water.
Some animals can tolerate acidic water and moderate amounts of aluminum to some extent.
The young species under the water are more sensitive than adults.
Fish eggs do not hatch at pH 5. If the pH level becomes lower than that, a certain number of fishes will die.
That is the reason why you will find some lakes do not have fish.
Even if some fish and underwater species can tolerate pH 4, but the food they eat will not. As a result, those species will die too anyway.
For example, a frog can endure pH 4, but frogs eat mayflies, and these mayflies do not survive in pH below 5.5.
This means, frogs too have little chance to survive.
The plants and animals are in an ecosystem that is interlinked. One lives by killing other. Therefore, if one part of the food chain is interrupted, it affects the other inhabitants of that chain as well.
When fish population decreases in certain lakes, wildlife like bears needs to find an alternative food source. Without fish, they will not survive in that environment.
Additionally, acid rain is responsible for population decay of the wood thrush. As the female birds need more calcium to harden their eggs, they depend on calcium enriched foods like snails.
Again, snails cannot tolerate pH level below 6. So, in the areas affected by acid rain, they cannot live.
The disappearance of snails due to acid rain leads to eggshell defects for birds. And, it can cause loss of a particular type of birds in the areas of acid rain.
Animals and birds such as waterfowl search for food on water. If the water is acidic to a certain level that they cannot tolerate, they will die.
It also happens to the birds. In the forest, birds are depended on trees for their food. If the leaves and fruits become toxic due to the acidic soil, birds will eat from toxic fruits and die.
In this way, the entire ecosystem can collapse if the acid rainfall occurs more often.
To conclude, the environment around us is not entirely damaged yet. Acid rain has not been able to destroy the ecosystem. So, there is still time for us to change.
We should not forget, we are the ones who are responsible for this, and we have to put an end to this problem.
If we can conserve energy, reduce the usage of fossil fuel, and oil, reduce the release of harmful chemical gases into the atmosphere, plant trees, and reduce usage of private transport, we can still gain control over it.
Otherwise, the phenomenon like acid rain will be a threatening issue for our future generations in no time.