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M6 Biology: Ecology Lab, Modeling an Ecosystem

Investigating the Biosphere, Ecosystems, and Communities


For this group lab/modeling project, you will analyze a particular ecosystem and
produce a sample food web and ecological pyramids for that ecosystem. You will write
one lab report per group following the instructions below.
*Refer to the following in your textbook for help:
Chapter 3: The Biosphere (p.63-93)
Chapter 4: Ecosystems and Communities (p.95-127)
Your report should have all of the following sections: Heading in the top right corner of
the first page (names, class, date), Introduction, Methods, Data and Observations,
Discussion, Resources.
Introduction:

Your introduction should give a general overview of ecology and the biosphere.
Keep your discussion to the broad topics you will discuss more details about
each of these concepts as they relate to your particular ecosystem in your
discussion section.
Define ecology.
Describe how the biosphere is organized into different levels. This should
include descriptions of the following terms:
- Individual, Population, Community, Ecosystem, Biome, Biosphere
- Biotic factors, Abiotic factors
What does a food web show? How does it help us study ecosystems? Define and
describe each of the following in this section:
- Trophic level
- Producer, Consumer, Decomposer
- Herbivore, Carnivore, Omnivore
- Pyramid of Energy, Pyramid of Numbers, Pyramid of Biomass
(Biomass)
- 10% Rule for Energy
- Keystone Species
- Niche
Describe the five different types of relationships found in an ecosystem
(Predator-Prey, Producer-Herbivore, Mutualism, Commensalism,
Parasitism). Which of these are considered symbiotic relationships? What
does that mean?
What is a biogeochemical cycle? What are the four ways that processes
involved in the biogeochemical cycles are classified? Give an example of each
type. (Biological, Geological, Chemical/Physical, Human Activity)
What is the purpose of this lab? What will you show in this lab report
(hypothesis)? Describe the ecosystem that your group chose. You should
describe each of the following as it applies to your particular ecosystem:
- Is it a terrestrial or aquatic ecosystem? If aquatic, is it marine or freshwater?
- In what areas of the world do you find this ecosystem?
- What is the general climate like? (average temperatures and precipitation)
Methods:

Describe the three main methods that ecologists use to study ecosystems.
Which method are you using in this lab? What are the advantages and
disadvantages of this particular method?
List any materials that you used.
Describe your procedure for writing this report. You should begin with the
activity we did in class to create the food web.
This section should be written in paragraph form.
Data and Observations:

Part A: Food Web


- Create a food web for your ecosystem
- You should have at least 15 organisms (12 animals and 3 plants)
- For each organism, you should have a photo/drawing, the scientific name, the
common name
(For example: Spider is not enough. Find a particular species of spider that
lives in your particular ecosystem and give both the scientific name and the
common name.)
- Draw arrows to show how energy moves through this food web (make sure
your arrows are going in the correct direction!)
- For each organism, indicate whether it is a Producer, Consumer, or
Decomposer. For the consumers, also indicate whether it is an Herbivore,
Carnivore, or Omnivore.
- Every organism on your food web should show at least one energy source and
at least one consumer of its energy.
Part B: Ecological Pyramids
- Create a Pyramid of Energy for one food chain in your food web. Your pyramid
should have at least 4 trophic levels. Show the amount of energy that each
trophic level gets in kJ.
- Create a Pyramid of Numbers for the same food chain.
- Create a Pyramid of Biomass for the same food chain. Show the biomass in
either kg/m2 or g/m2.

Part C: Climate
- Create or find a graph or visual representation of the annual average
temperatures and precipitation for your particular ecosystem

Discussion
Discuss your food web. What are the producers? What are the consumers? What
are the decomposers? Why are producers an important part of the ecosystem?
Why are decomposers an important part of the ecosystem?
Explain what your Pyramid of Energy shows. Calculate the percentage of energy
that each trophic level receives from the previous level. Calculate the
percentage of energy that the top trophic level receives from the original
sunlight energy.
For an omnivore, is eating meat or plants more energy efficient? Why?
Explain what your Pyramid of Biomass shows. Why did you choose the unit you
chose?
Which pyramids are the most useful to get the most accurate information? Why?
Describe a specific predator-prey relationship and a specific producer-herbivore
relationship in your food web. Describe a situation where a new predator is
introduced to this ecosystem. How would this effect the population of
herbivores? The population of producers? How do predator-prey relationships
help to keep an ecosystem "balanced"?
Which organism in your food web would be considered a keystone species?
Why?
Describe a specific example of a symbiotic relationship in your ecosystem. This
can include organisms from your food web or other organisms found in your
ecosystem. This can be an example of mutualism, commensalism, or parasitism.
Describe the climate in this ecosystem. (Analyze your temperature and
precipitation data.) What are some examples of adaptations that plants and
animals have developed to survive and thrive in this ecosystem? Give at least
three adaptations.
Give an example of a particular biological process that plays an important role
in this ecosystem. Describe a situation where this biological process either
increases or decreases. What effect does this have on the water cycle, nitrogen
cycle, carbon cycle, and phosphorus cycle? What effect does this have on the
food web?
Give an example of a particular geological process that plays an important role
in this ecosystem. Describe a situation where this geological process either
increases or decreases. What effect does this have on the water cycle, nitrogen
cycle, carbon cycle, and phosphorus cycle? What effect does this have on the
food web?
Give an example of a particular chemical or physical process that plays an
important role in this ecosystem. Describe a situation where this chemical or
physical process either increases or decreases. What effect does this have on
the water cycle, nitrogen cycle, carbon cycle, and phosphorus cycle? What
effect does this have on the food web?
Give an example of a particular human activity that plays an important role in
this ecosystem. Describe a situation where this human activity either increases
or decreases. What effect does this have on the water cycle, nitrogen cycle,
carbon cycle, and phosphorus cycle? What effect does this have on the food
web?
What did you learn from this lab? How is this method useful to investigate
ecosystems and relationships between organisms? Pose at least two questions
that you would like to investigate further about this ecosystem. Briefly discuss
how you would investigate those questions.
Resources
List the resources you used. You must have at least 6 resources.
2 of your resources may be chapters from the textbook.
One resource maximum may be a Wikipedia page.
Other resources may be scientific websites, journal articles, or books.

** First draft of report due on: _____________________________

** Final report due on: ____________________________________