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Title: Effect of Light Intensity on Plant Biodiversity

Research Question
Design an experiment that examines the impact of a factor affecting the biodiversity of a
selected area at the Colo-i-Suva Forest Park. Therefore, the aim of this experiment was to
investigate the impacts of light intensity affecting the diversity of various plant species at Colo-i-
Suva Park.


to do this

we examined

our results showed


An investigation in to how Light intensity effects plant biodiversity. Abstract An investigation as to

the effects of light intensity on plant biodiversity. My hypothesis stated that as light intensity
increases, so does plant biodiversity. I investigated this through a practical case study of using
quadrats and a light meter to measure light intensity. The investigation proved my hypothesis to
be correct.

Simpson's Diversity Index is a measure of diversity. In ecology, it is often used to quantify the
biodiversity of a habitat. It takes into account the number of species present, as well as the
abundance of each species. The two main factors taken into account when measuring diversity
are richness and evenness. Richness is a measure of the number of different kinds of organisms
present in a particular area. For example, species richness is the number of different species
present. However, diversity depends not only on richness, but also on evenness. Evenness
compares the similarity of the population size of each of the species present.

Species richness as a measure on its own takes no account of the number of individuals of each
species present. It gives as much weight to those species which have very few individuals as to
those which have many individuals.
In this lab you will be performing quadrat sampling to gauge the biodiversity and ecosystem
health of different components of the same habitat. “Quadrat sampling” is a term for sampling
portions of an ecosystem to indicate the health of the overall habitat. To perform this
procedure, a series of squares (quadrats) of a set size are placedat random in a habitat. The
species within those quadrats are identified, counted, and recorded.

Quadrat sampling can either be random or systematic depending on the nature of your research
question. In random quadrat sampling, the habitat is broken down into a grid-like system of
squares and each square is assigned a number. Drawing a predetermined set of numbers at
random provides you with your sampling site. For this lab, we will perform transect sampling,
which simply means that we will be moving along a predetermined number of paths straight
from the edge of the habitat into the center. Along each path, samples will be taken at the
same distances to compare the biodiversity of the edge of the habitat with the interior.

To conduct the sampling within your quadrat, simply count the number of species and the
number of individuals.


The prediction made was that there would be a higher number of various plant species found in
areas with higher light intensity, resulting in higher biodiversity. Conversely, there would be
fewer plant species of fewer types growing in shady areas, where the light intensity is low.

(explain how some plants adapt to shadier areas)

Variables Table

Units Range
Independent Variable The measure of light
intensity from high to
low (in Lux)
Dependent Variable The number of
various plant species
Controlled Variable The materials used


1 x Lux meter
1 x 1m by 1m metal quadrat

1 x 4m string

1 x 500m Measuring tape

1 x Pencil

1 x Paper


1. Four different species of plants were chosen to be observed for the

2. The quadrat frame was randomly placed on the forest floor.
3. The lux meter was used to measure the light intensity.
4. The number of plants of species A, B, C and D were counted and
recorded in the tables drawn.
5. Alternatively, the measuring tape was used in situations where the
plants were too large for the quadrat frame to be physically placed
over them. Hence, the measuring tape was used and arranged in the
form of a 1m by 1m square quadrat (similar to the metal quadrat
6. The same procedure was repeated several times in other areas in the
site of study (Colo-i-Suva Forest Park).

 to make a 1 m X 1 m quadrat.
 Similarly, make nine more quadrats randomly in the site of study.
 Observe the presence of species “A” in the first quadrat and mark it in the table.
 Similarly, check for the presence of species “A” in other quadrats respectively and
record the data in the table.
 Observe the presence of species “B” in all quadrats and mark it in the table.
 Repeat the same procedure for species C and record the data in the table.
 We can calculate the frequency of plant populations by this equation:
 Percentage Frequency=(Number of sampling units in which the species
occurs)/(Total number of sampling units employed for the study)*100
 In the simplest form of random sampling, the quadrat is thrown to fall at
‘random’ within the site. However, this is usually unsatisfactory because a
personal element inevitably enters into the throwing and it is not truly
random. True randomness is an important element in ecology, because
statistics are widely used to process the results of sampling. Many of the
common statistical techniques used are only valid on data that is truly
randomly collected. This technique is also only possible if quadrats of
small size are being used. It would be impossible to throw anything larger
than a 1m2 quadrat and even this might pose problems.







Different plants are adapted to different light levels. Some thrive in full
sun, others do well in shade. In the upper midwest at least, there are
more species adapted to full sun than to shade. In an undisturbed open
prairie there may be several hundred species per acre, while in a
shaded forest there will be far fewer. Light level is often a critical limiting
factor for plant diversity.
Light Intensity
(lux) A B C D
206 1 1 1 1
274 2 0 4 0
326 1 1 3 5
514 5 0 0 2
637 2 6 1 4
871 3 4 2 2
1800 6 2 2 3
1864 4 3 6 2

8. Why does the rate of photosynthesis not increase at very

high light intensities?
At very high light intensities, the rate of photosynthesis levels
off or remains constant. At this point, another factor - other than
light - contributing to the rate of photosynthesis is limiting. The
most likely reason for the leveling off of the reaction rate is
the saturation of active sites in the enzymes catalyzing the

In the case of this experiment - the limiting factors are unlikely

to be water or carbon dioxide. A limiting factor may be
temperature - a slight increase in the ambient
temperature may result an increase in the rate of reaction.
However, a high temperatures the enzymes catalyzing the
photosynthetic reactions would be denatured.
Zizania texana only has 140 clumps left, with a seemingly grim future ahead. Growing only in the
freshwater of San Marcos River, this plant is endangered by lowering water levels caused by the
Spring Lake Dam, according to the Center of Plant Conservation.

Uncontrolled and unchecked exploitation can cause irreversible damage such as loss of
biodiversity, soil erosion, flooding and climate change. So, sustainable use of the forest is
essential. Sustainable development will meet the needs of Brazil's population without
compromising the needs of future generations.

Possible strategies include:

 Agro-forestry - growing trees and crops at the same time. This lets farmers take
advantage of shelter from the canopy of trees. It prevents soil erosion and the crops
benefit from the nutrients from the dead organic matter.
 Selective logging - trees are only felled when they reach a particular height. This
allows young trees a guaranteed life span and the forest will regain full maturity after
around 30-50 years.
 Education - ensuring those involved in exploitation and management of the forest
understand the consequences behind their actions.
 Afforestation - the opposite of deforestation. If trees are cut down, they are replaced
to maintain the canopy.
 Forest reserves - areas protected from exploitation.
 Monitoring - use of satellite technology and photography to check that any activities
taking place are legal and follow guidelines for sustainability.