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Madison Gilbert

Mrs. Handest
AP Biology
8 January 2017

Owl Pellet Lab

Jaw # Jaw Length (mm) Estimated Animal Mass (g)

1 15 30

2 15 30

3 15 30

4 10 20

5 15 30
Fig 1. This table depicts the data collected during our dissection; it contains information
regarding both the length and mass of the indigestible material.

1. Estimated Live Mass
a. One factor that may influence the ratio from the graph would be bone density;
some animals have denser bones than others genetically, and that is something we
would need more measurements to test. Also, the ratio may simply not apply to
some rodents, in any statistical set, you’ll be given outliers, so if those outliers
were present within our pellet, we would not have estimated their mass correctly.
The amount of food that is readily available could also affect the estimated ratios
that are predetermined by the graph.
b. Our owl ate approximately 140 grams of live mass before he regurgitated the
indigestible material that created our pellet. We know this based on our
approximated masses of all the rodents consumed by our owl.
c. Considering the fact that our owl pellet weighed 1.4 grams, and the combined
total mass of all the consumed rodents totals 140 grams, we can divide the total by
the weight of the pellet. This determines that approximately 1% of all the live
mass was digestible.
d. If 1% was indigestible, we can assume that the other 99% was.This also makes
sense logically because our owl pellet weighed essentially nothing compared to
all the live mass it consumed;so the ratio of digestible to indigestible is realistic.
2. Owl Diet
a. Our owl would most likely consume around 210 grams of live mass per day. This
number was found by multiplying the grams of our owl pellet (140) by the
amount of pellets that are produced daily.
b. Our owl would also consume approximately 76,650 grams per year. This number
was found by multiplying the live mass that an owl would consume in one day by
the total number of days in a year (365).
c. The owl we studied would most likely consume around 2,737.5 prey animals per
year. We found this number by calculating the average number of prey it ate per
day (7.5) and multiplying it by the total number of days in a year (365).
d. Our owl would consume approximately 1,303,050 prey animals through the
duration of 17 years. We found this number by multiplying the number of prey it
ate in one year (76,650) by 17 years.
e. One source of error within this lab could be the fact that we may have missed one
or more jaws when we were searching for them within our owl pellet; if we had
missed even one jaw it would have thrown off all of our calculations and made
them inaccurate. Another source of error could be that the predetermined ratios by
the chart were simply inaccurate so the estimated weights of our prey were wrong
as well.

f. A biomass pyramid differs from an energy

pyramid because it depicts how much energy (or biomass) is available at every
level of the pyramid, beginning with the producers and ending with the tertiary
consumers. An energy pyramid simply portrays the exchange of energy
throughout different organisms in an ecosystem.

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