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Investigating Eutrophication

Alasdair Lindsay-Walters

Eutrophication occurs when unnaturally high levels of nitrates and phosphates enter an aquatic ecosystem. Nitrates and phosphates are the essential components of many micro-structures of an organism, for example; structural proteins, cell membranes, nucleic acids (the building blocks of DNA), and molecules use in both plant and animal respiration. High levels of nitrates or phosphates in an aquatic ecosystem often lead to an extensive bloom of algae, which in turn utilises vast quantities of oxygen from the water. This decreases the amount of oxygen available to other aquatic wildlife, leading to dramatic changes in animal and plant populations. This investigation will explore into how different concentrations of nitrates and phosphates in an aquatic environment will affect the growth of plant-life. In this investigation, the growth of duckweed will be measured when left for 3 weeks in an aquatic environment with varying levels of phosphates and nitrates in order to explore the following research question: ‘How do different concentrations of nitrates and phosphates in an aquatic environment affect the growth of duckweed?’ Independent variable: amount of phosphates and nitrates in an aquatic environment Dependent variable: the growth of duckweed- measured by counting the number of individual duckweed plants have grown after 3 weeks Method: 1. Place 10 individual duckweed plants into a beaker with 50ml of solution. There will a total of 7 different solutions:  Pond water – this will be used as a control as it provides normal living conditions for duckweed.  P1 – a weak phosphate solution.  P2 – a strong phosphate solution.  N1 – a weak nitrate solution.  N2 – a strong nitrate solution.  P1/N1 – a weak phosphate and nitrate solution.  P2/N2 – a strong phosphate and nitrate solution. 2. Each beaker should be labelled with the correct solution to ensure they are not mixed up. 3. Leave each beaker for 3 weeks under the same environment. 4. After 3 weeks, extract the duckweed using a pincer and count the number of individual duckweed plants and record the data. Repeats:  7 repeats for each solution should be carried out at the same time. Equipment list: I. 49x Beakers II. 7x Measuring cylinder (to measure the solutions) III. Labels IV. Pincer

away from any potential carbon dioxide sources. All equipment used in the experiment should be kept the same throughout without changing anything. N2. All equipment should be cleaned thoroughly before the experiment takes place in order to ensure that any unwanted matter does not contaminate the test beakers.Variable Amount of duck weed Concentration of phosphate and nitrate solutions Volume of nitrate and phosphate solutions Temperature Light Carbon Dioxide Type of equipment Contamination of solutions Intensity of light Time Evaporation Equipment How it will be controlled All tests will have the same amount of duck weed (10 individual pieces). away from any potential heat sources. 7 different experiments. P2/N2. N1. away from any potential light sources. All tests will kept under the same light conditions in the same room. P1.where “2” represents a higher concentration than “1”. P1/N1. including. All tests will be kept under the same levels of carbon dioxide in the room. not too hot or cold as this will affect enzymatic activity. P2. 60ml of solution in each experiment. The light intensity should remain the same for each beaker to ensure the same aquatic environment is achieved throughout all tests The experiment should be left for the exact same time (3 weeks) Each beaker should be covered with plastic with the same number of holes (to allow oxygen in) to prevent the solutions from evaporating. Using different measuring cylinders for each solution will ensure each solution isn’t contaminated with each other. All tests will be kept in the same room. Pond water (as a control). .