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# Lauren Epstein

Gunsher
APES 2nd period
2 March 2015
Biodiversity of Leaf Litter Lab Report
Introduction
The purpose of the leaf litter lab is to measure diversity of leaf litter by using Simpsons index to
do so. Simpson's diversity index is used to quantify, or measure, the biodiversity of a habitat. You
calculate this by first finding the species richness and evenness before plugging the numbers into the
formula of the index. Species richness is the number of species present in a sample, community, or
taxonomic group while species evenness refers to how close in numbers each species in an
environment are. Also The Berlese Funnel is an apparatus, or setup, that separates small insects from
soil or leaves and preserves them and consists of a wire or plastic mesh held in a frame placed over a
funnel connected at the bottom to a preserving bottle or beaker.
Biodiversity is important to find because the higher the diversity, the healthier the ecosystem. If
an ecosystem only consisted of the same species, or only a couple different species, the ecosystem
could be wiped out very easily by disease, lack of resources, or lack of nutrients. This can also
include extreme conditions such as forest fires and floods. Not to mention some species in a large
range of species may be able to do things other species in the ecosystem can not do, thus allowing
the ecosystem to live on even after natural disasters. Therefore we would want to rate biodiversity to
tell whether or not an ecosystem is healthy.
Problem
What is the biodiversity of the leaf litter in the woods behind HHS?
Hypothesis: The leaf litter will have a greater biodiversity than the soil because it will contain more
species due to the higher amount of nutrients and decomposition.
Parts of the Experiment
Independent variable: Leaf Litter
Dependent variable: Biodiversity
Control Group: Soil Group
Experimental Group: Trail Leaf Litter Group
Controlled variables: The trail, soil taken from under the leaves, and same leaf litter used.
Materials

## Materials for this lab are:

Stereoscope/Dissecting Microscope
Berlese Funnel

Leaf Litter
Alcohol
Source of Light

Methods
1. Collect a sample of leaf litter. Be sure to collect the entire layer down to the soil.
2. Examine the sample and classify what you see the layer is composed of.
3. Place your sample into the Berlese Funnel under the light source. Place a small beaker of alcohol under the
funnel. The hope is that small invertebrates will travel away from the light and fall into your alcohol.
4. The next day, collect your beaker and examine the organisms you have collected under the microscopes. You
will need to calculate the number of each species you have, and identify them. Each person may work on a
portion of the sample and put your numbers together. Use the Identification pages to name each species.
5. Use the information to calculate the diversity indices for your sample.

Data Analysis
The data our group found was that the soil sample, that was supposed to contain no species of
any kind, contained 1 spider and 1 japygid. Although this was found, we stated in the class results that
there were no insects in the soil group to keep the control group stable. Our results could have been
mixed up with another leaf litter sample or the soil just could have happened to contain a few stray
organisms. When we examined the leaf litter sample we found 1 spider, 1 Japygid, 2 Beetle mites, 1
isopod, 2 roaches, and 1 aphypid. This smaller sample supports my hypothesis since there is a much
wider range of species and a much higher amount of organisms over all.
The class data was not much different from what our individual group found, other than that
other groups found some different species than we found in our sample. A few groups even had a lot
more organisms than ours and some had fewer. Either way, the over all standard is that the soil contained
for biodiversity at all while the leaf litter had a much higher biodiversity of 0.92 according to Simpsons
Index and 12.05 in the Reciprocal Index. The evenness of the ecosystem seemed to be pretty much even
other than the one deviant score of 14 from the mites. This could mean that there are in fact much more
mites than any other species or when people could not identify an organism they labeled it as a mite. The
over all class data supports my hypothesis by showing that the biodiversity of the leaf litter was much
higher.
Data

## Soil Group Species

Number of Species

Spider
Japygid

1
1

## Leaf Litter Group Species

Number of Species

Spider

Jopygid
Beetle Mite
Isopod
Roach
Aphid

1
2
1
2
1

Leaf
Litter
Lab
Sprin
g
2015

Temp
RH
34
70%
Group Group
1
2
SPECIE Numb Numb
S
er
er
Isopod
1
Mite
1
7
Ant
1
Predace
as Mite
1
1
Thrip
1
Psocid
1
Springta
il
2
Harvestman
2
True
Bug
Aphid
Protura
Nemato
da
Diplura
Beetle Mite
paurapoda
Spider
Japygid
Roach

Soil

Group
3
Numb
er

No
Critte
rs

Species
Isopod
Mite
Ant
Predaceas Mite
Thrip
Psocid
Springtail

Number
2
14
1
5
2
3
7

Group
4
Numb
er

Group
5
Numb
er

Group
6
Numb
er

Group
7
Numb
er

Group
8
Numb
er

Grou
p9
Numb
er
1

Group
10
Numb
er

4
3
1
2

1
1
3
1

1
4
1
2
2

2
2

2
1
1
1
2

1
1

Harvestman
True Bug
Aphid
Protura
Nematoda
Diplura
Beetle Mite
Paurapoda
Spider
Japygid
Roach

2
1
4
5
1
4
6
1
2
2
2
SUM: 64

Species Richness: 18
Simpsons Index: .00789
Simpsons Index Reciprocal: 12.68
Conclusions (points to address in your write-up)
When using our makeshift Berlese Funnel, there are several reasons the organisms moved away
from the light. One is that the organisms need moisture, or water, to survive so as the leaf litter on the
top starts to get drier, they burrow deeper into the litter to find the moisture they need. Another reason is
that it gets too hot. Some organisms cannot tolerate too much heat; therefore they burrow deeper into the
ground to escape it so they do not eventually die from too much of it. This indicates that the organisms
we found under the microscopes have a low tolerance level for heat and tend to live in a very moist
environment.
The density of the leaf litter we used in the lab seems to be on the high side. There was a large
number of different species while there were only a few organisms from of each species. If a scientists
was measuring biodiversity they would need to make more than one measurement to make sure it is
accurate and so they can average it out to get a wider range. This will also make sure they are more
likely to find some of the more scarce species to see if the ecosystem contains any of them as well.
Therefore there would be less room for error in calculating the over all amount of species and finding
the biodiversity. Also you would use this to take samples of a large forest by taking several samples in
different areas of the large forest to get a wide range and to make sure the species are not just living in
one spot and that the are spread out through the entire forest.

Works Cited
"Berlese Funnel." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <http://www.merriam-

webster.com/dictionary/berlese%20funnel>.
"What Is Biodiversity?" National Wildlife Federation. National Wildlife

## Federation, n.d. Web. 26 Feb.

2015. <http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Conservation/Biodiversity.aspx>.