Experiment No.

1

What Makes an Ecosystem?

Names: Carlyn Joson Johnson Isagani Pulis III Delight Joy Dompales Leah Morales Archie Michael Bello Group No.: 4

Date Performed: June 20, 2012 Date Submitted: June 26, 2012

ABSTRACT

An ecosystem represented by a quadrant (1x1) was investigated in this experiment. The physical characteristics of the said quadrant were determined such as: location, weather, wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, soil texture, nature of soil, and soil moisture.

The number of species (i.e. plants and animals) in the quadrant was also counted. The quadrant in study was located behind the shady part of the RSTC building. The weather was a bright day at about 30°C. The wind speed and wind direction in the area was slight from northwest to southeast. The soil within the quadrant was a mixture of damp, fine and coarse, loamy soil. The most common plant and animal specie in the quadrant were different varieties of grasses and numerous red ants.

From the animal and plant species found in the quadrant different food chains were listed and from these food chains a food web was constructed. Through this experiment the group were able to describe an environment as the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates. The oppositional relationships between organisms in the ecosystem are predation and competition.

INTRODUCTION

Ecosystem, organisms living in a particular environment, such as a forest or a coral reef, and the physical parts of the environment that affect them. The term ecosystem was coined in 1935 by the British ecologist Sir Arthur George Tansley, who described natural systems in “constant interchange” among their living and nonliving parts.[1] The ecosystem concept fits into an ordered view of nature that was developed by scientists to simplify the study of the relationships between organisms and their physical environment, a field known as ecology. What makes up an ecosystem? An ecosystem must contain producers, consumers, decomposers, and dead and inorganic matter.

Producers make food from inorganic matter. (Plants are producers – they make sugar through photosynthesis – they use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to produce food.)

Consumers eat producers – they are unable to make their own food and so must eat other plants and animals. (All animals are consumers.) Decomposers break down dead matter – these may be bacteria or animals that feed off dead plants and animals.

Inorganic matter is what non-living things are made from. These are things like air, water, rocks, soil and metals. Inorganic matter is important in an ecosystem because it is what producers use, and it is the physical and chemical, non-living environment that we live in. The interactions going on are all linked, and they can get very complex. Anything

that impacts on one aspect of the ecosystem will, in turn, impact on others. Unfortunately, humans often do things that result in disrupting an ecosystem, and even though their actions may seem small, they can have large effects. For example, the over-fishing of sharks can have catastrophic effects for reef ecosystems. By removing the top level predator, the food it normally eats thrives and then over-populates. This disrupts the whole reef ecosystem, and if balance is not restored, the ecosystem can collapse. This means it is important for humans to consider the consequences of their actions and do their best to change their behaviors when problems are identified.

METHODOLOGY

A one (1) square meter quadrant was used as the area of study in this experiment. The four corners of the quadrant were secured with wooden sticks and a rope attached. The physical characteristics of the chosen quadrant was described and recorded in the table provided. Among these physical characteristics are: location, weather, wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, soil texture, nature of soil and soil moisture. The species of plants were counted and labeled as species A, B, C and D. The number of animals in the quadrant including transients or visitors was also noted. Data gathered was compared with those of the other groups in terms of physical characteristics of the quadrants, and most abundant plant and animal specie. From the observations of organisms possible food chains that may exists in the in the quadrant were listed and from these a food web was constructed. Existing relationships among these organisms were identified.

RESULTS and DISCUSSION

Table 1.1 Physical Characteristics of quadrant (1x1) chosen Characteristics Location Weather Wind Speed Wind Direction Air Temperature Soil Texture Nature of Soil Soil Moisture No. of species No. of plants No. of animals 4 Observation Behind RSTC Bldg. (Shady) Bright Day Slight northwest to southeast 30°C Mixture of fine and coarse Loamy Damp

An ecosystem represented by a quadrant in this experiment is a community of living and non-living things that work together. Ecosystems have no particular size. An ecosystem can be as large as a desert or a lake or as small as a tree or a puddle. If one has a terrarium that is an artificial ecosystem. The water, water temperature, plants, animals, air, light and soil all work together. If there isn't enough light or water or if the soil doesn't have the right nutrients, the plants will die. If the plants die, animals that depend on them will die. If the animals that depend on the plants die, any animals that depend on those animals will die.

Ecosystems have lots of different living organisms that interact with each other. The living organisms in an ecosystem can be divided into three categories:

producers, consumers and decomposers.[2] They are all important parts of an ecosystem.

Producers are the green plants in this experiment this is presented by the grasses. They make their own food. Consumers are animals and they get their energy from the producers or from organisms that eat producers. There are three types of consumers: herbivores (ant) are animals that eat plants, carnivores (frog) are animals that eat herbivores and sometimes other carnivores and omnivores are animals that eat plants and other animals. The third type of living organism in an ecosystem is the decomposers (worms, fungi, or bacteria). Decomposers are plants and animals that break down dead plants and animals into organic materials that go back into the soil.

Soil is a critical part of an ecosystem. It provides important nutrients for the plants in an ecosystem. It helps anchor the plants to keep them in place. Soil absorbs and holds water for plants and animals to use and provides a home for lots of living organisms. A healthy ecosystem has lots of species diversity and is less likely to be seriously damaged by human interaction, natural disasters and climate changes.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

By definition, ecosystems use energy and cycle matter, and these processes also define the basic ecosystem functions.[3] Researchers can make direct observations on ecosystems. Basically sunlight is the main source of energy. This allows plants to convert energy by photosynthesis. This provides food for some animals, birds and fish. These are called herbivores. The other animals eat the animals that have eaten the plants. These are carnivores. This process is called the food chain.[4]

At a basic functional level, ecosystems generally contain primary producers capable of harvesting energy from the sun by photosynthesis and of using this energy to

convert carbon dioxide and other inorganic chemicals into the organic building blocks of life. Consumers feed on this captured energy, and decomposers not only feed on this energy, but also break organic matter back into its inorganic constituents, which can be used again by producers. These interactions among producers and the organisms that consume and decompose them are called trophic interactions, and are composed of trophic levels in an energy pyramid, with most energy and mass in the primary producers at the base, and higher levels of feeding on top of this, starting with primary consumers feeding on primary producers, secondary consumers feeding on these, and so on. Trophic interactions are also described in more detailed form as a food chain, which organizes specific organisms by their trophic distance from primary producers, and by food webs, which detail the feeding interactions among all organisms in an ecosystem. Together, these processes of energy transfer and matter cycling are essential in determining ecosystem structure and function and in defining the types of interactions between organisms and their environment.

REFERENCES

1. Clement, Joel P. "Ecosystem." Microsoft® Student 2008 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2007. 2. http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/nwepecosystems.htm (Accessed June 2012) 3. http://www.eoearth.org/article/Ecosystem?topic=58074 (Accessed June 2012) 4. http://www.geography.learnontheinternet.co.uk/topics/ecosystem.html (Accessed June 2012)

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