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Paige Masten

Mrs. Norris
AP Environmental Science
13 November 2015
Collaborators: Quinn (Materials Manager), Meredith (Project Manager), and McKenzie
(Technical Manager)
Effects of Erosion Lab

National Geographic defines erosion as the act in which earth is worn away, often
by water, wind, or ice. Soil erosion refers to the wearing away of topsoil by the natural forces of
wind and water. Soil erosion can have many negative impacts on an ecosystem, such as
increased flooding, polluted waterways, loss of arable land, desertification, and a loss of
biodiversity (World Wildlife Foundation). In this lab, we are testing the effects of hydrologic
(water) erosion on different types of landforms in order to see which types of ecosystems suffer
the most from hydrologic erosion.


How does grass affect the movement of water in an ecosystem?


If water is added to three different models of soil based environments (grass,
pebbles, and bare soil), then the water will move fastest through the bare soil and slowest
through the pebbles, causing more erosion in the bare soil model.


Materials and Methods

2 liter bottles, cut in half

Potting soil

Grass seed


Pebbles, gravel or leaf litter

Sowing the seeds
1. Place soil in an empty 2L bottle that has been cut in half (see picture above).
Spread grass seed evenly throughout the soil.
2. Water grass seed every 3-4 days and allow it to sit near a source of sunlight or
under a plant grow lamp.
Testing the effects
1. When the grass has grown 2-4 inches in height, you are ready to test the effects.
2. Fill two more empty 2L bottles with soil. Cover one with a top cover of your
choice (gravel, pebbles, or leaf litter) and leave the other one alone as a control.
3. Line the three bottles up on top of an elevated surface. Place an empty beaker
underneath the mouth of each bottle.
4. Prepare 4 graduated cylinders with 100 mL of water in each.
5. Have a student start a timer and say GO. When the timer says go, all 3
graduated cylinders should be poured onto the soil bottles.
6. Record the time, amount, and color of the water discharge in the table below.


With Grass

collected (mL)
56 mL

Time for water to stop

flowing (sec)

Qualitative Observations
(color, density, etc).
light, yellowish color

With soil only


51 mL


49 mL


layered color, darker on top

lighter on bottom
brown, soil was in it

Data Analysis
The data from the experiment shows that the grass model was the fastest, collected the most
amount of water and had the best water quality. The pebble model was the slowest and the bare
soil model had the worst water quality. The water collected data is equivalent to runoff, and
the qualitative observations can tell us how polluted the water was through observing the water
quality. Additionally, we can tell that the bare soil model results in a loss of soil because there
were soil particles in the runoff water. Since we didnt use a lot of water, it did not have a lot of
pressure, meaning that in a real world situation (with rain or other precipitation), the effects
would probably be increased because the water would be a stronger force.


This lab proved our hypothesis to be partly correct. We guessed that the water
would move fastest through the soil and slowest through the pebbles, but it moved fastest
through the grass. However, we were correct in saying that there would be more erosion in the
bare soil model. This is true in the real world because the amount of erosion increases when there
are less plants in the soil, such as with deforestation when trees are cut down (HowStuffWorks).
The presence of plants in the soil decreases erosion and in particular, pollution, as demonstrated
by the grass model. The grass model had the best water quality because the grass allowed for
water filtration. This also explains why the bare soil model had the worst water quality; it didnt
have any plants that could filter out pollutants. With that being said, I believe that grass would be
more effective to replant after deforestation. It provides many benefits including water filtration
and less soil erosion (New York Times). In the real world, this lab could be used for similar

purposes on a larger scale. It is important to know the effects of erosion and deforestation on
different environments in order to successfully implement conservation techniques.

Works Cited
"Erosion." National Geographic Education. National Geographic, 18 Nov. 2010. Web. 13 Nov.
Ronca, Debra. "How Deforestation Works." HowStuffWorks., n.d. Web. 13
Nov. 2015.
"Soil Erosion and Degradation." World Wildlife Fund, n.d. Web. 13 Nov.
Weisman, Steven R. "Deep-Rooted Grass Fights Soil Erosion." The New York Times. The New
York Times, 08 Aug. 1988. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.