Ecology is the study of the abundance of life, and the interaction between organisms (biotic features), and their abiotic environment. An ecosystem is a natural environment unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms (biotic factors) in an area functioning together with all of the non-living physical (abiotic) factors of the environment. Ecosystems vary in size. They can range from something as small as a puddle to the Earth itself. They are also “open” as energy can flow in and out freely. For instance the Earth converts rays from the sun into a number of organic products.
An ecosystem is composed of abiotic factors e.g. water, rocks, air, and biotic factors like animals, plants, and microorganisms.
In this investigation I will explore the interaction between living things, and their environment. I will also survey the effects on the biotic factors when there is an alteration in the environment.
I hypothesise that there is a strong link between organisms, and their abiotic environment. If a certain factor is slightly altered this could affect the population of a given species in a given area. In this sense I will prove that all biotic features depend strongly upon their environment. I will also prove interconnection of various organisms found in the environment by displaying food chains, and food webs. This will prove that organisms are highly dependant on other organism in their community. Environmental conditions such as temperature and soil pH will also be observed during this experiment.
* Air temperature (at ground level and 1m above ground)
* Soil temperature
* Soil pH
* Biotic factors
* 1x Measuring tape
* 2x Thermometer
* 2x pH meter
* 1x Trowel
* 1x plastic bag
* 1x Calculator
Air Temperature at ground level
Air Temperature 1m above ground
The plot of land is in a semi-arid environment, with an ecosystem consisting of mostly low-level herbs with a cluster of medium sized shrubs that reach above 1 meter high. There is very little water content in the soil or plants. At ground level, there is thick foliage. There are also no trees or water bodies present in the ecosystem
1. Measure a piece of land 10m x 10m in area using measuring tape, Make sure 10m transect line runs through a selected area where features such as undulation of land and vegetation varies.
2. Using a thermometer measure the air temperature by holding a thermometer 1m above ground level
3. Measure the temperature of the soil by placing a different thermometer in the soil. Dig the instrument into the ground so that it does not fall.
4. Following this collect a soil sample by digging into the soil using a trowel
5. Carefully place the soil in a plastic bag. Tie up the plastic bag so that the soil sample is secure.
6. Walk the length of the transect line, observing the plants and animals along the way. Make a list of all plants and animals species observed.
7. Choose a specific plant species (grass), Form 0.5m x 0.5m quadrangle using measuring tape, and count number of chosen species within this quadrat.
8. Repeat step seven 5 times using different quadrats of the same area in order to justify results.
9. Estimate the number of animal species within the area of the ecosystem using the data collected from each quadrat.
10. Calculate population of chosen species by taking the sum total of the species found in the quadrats. Multiply the result by 20 which provide a rough estimate of the population of chosen species within 10m x 10m land. Keep all quadrangles marker altering the environment to the least extent possible.
11. Repeat the same for small animal e.g. insects.
12. Take same quadrangles. Alter a factor in the environment, and record any changes e.g. place a large rock in the quadrangle, or choose an area where there is a dearth of grass.