Biodiversity Lab Essay
1. Explain how the ecosystem was affected by the missing species for each round of the demonstration.
a. Round 1 = white bead representing lichens. Our laboratory reading for the experiment stated that lichens are instrumental in the development and needs for all species. The text stated, “Lichens play a part in the creation of soils from which plants can obtain nutrients. Like all living organisms, lichens need nutrients and energy to grow. Nutrients may be obtained from the air including dust, water, and from the substrate organisms grows on obtaining energy through photosynthesis, which is the role of the algal partner. They may also be incidentally fertilized hybrid and insect dung” (Bottcher & Rex, 2012, p. 43). With the information obtained from the reading, without lichens, bees, trees, flowers, and humans will all have negative repercussions.
b. Round 2 = Yellow bead, representing bees. No bees and lichens the trees will not be pollenated, which will result in a loss of a food source for humans since bees pollenate trees and flowers for food. Without bees to pollenating, the ecosystems takes another dramatic step towards extinction. One study stated, “Deduction from floral structure indicates that the flowers of many crops and wild plants are adapted for bee pollination.
Further experimental studies of pollination are much needed, to see whether inadequate pollination limits seed set, and which insect species are potential or actual pollinators. The adequacy of pollination of a given plant species will vary regionally with climate, habitat and the nature and density of the local pollinator community” (Corbet, Williams, & Osborne, 1991, para. 3). Minus the bees, the results for all other species will be negatively impacted.
c. Round 3 = Orange bead, representing trees. The trees are dependent on lichens and with lichens removed. The trees will not have enriched soil to keep living. This is the reason for loss of oxygen for all species who require it and without bees, the fruit that some trees produce will cease to exist, causing food shortages and lack of shade and protection for flowers and humans (Bottcher & Rex, 2012).
d. Round 4 = Red bead, representing flowers. Lichens removed the soil could not adequately support nutrients required to keep alive. The flowers needs protection and shade from trees to sustain life and the trees were removed due to soil composition and loss of lichens from ecosystem.
2. Provide one action we as humans engage in that leads to the extinction of each of these components.
Action affecting Lichens = The use of pesticides, chemicals, other pollutants, and people cause damage to this component that can lead to the irreversible impact on the lichens.
Action affecting Trees = The destruction of soil and pollution, a major area where humans are impacting trees is through the removal of forests for trees to support human projects and constructions. “Ninety-three percent of the forestland in the United States is
Privately owned” (Hazel baker, 2008, para. 1).
Action affecting Flowers = Even though our chemicals are killing these flowers and making the soil contaminated and resistant to flower species. The use of pesticides and other chemicals, flowers are not engineered like crop seed to survive these chemicals.
Action affecting Bees = Due to several human factors, bees are being threatened and destruction of their habitat is the number one reason. For a habitat to remain successful and sustain populations it must provide nesting sites and a seasonal succession of forage, and humans are depleting these areas through population growth and industrialization (Corbet, Williams, & Osborne, 1991).
3. Provide three specific actions that humans can take to minimize our impact on the ecosystem and ensure the survival of lichens, trees, flowers, and bees.
Action 1 = Bees are a critical part of the ecosystem. Humans need to ensure habitat sustainment to sustain bee populations do not deteriorate to levels that cannot be corrected.
“Bees need food (nectar, pollen) provided by insect-pollinated plants in order to reproduce and produce more bees” (Corbet, Williams, & Osborne, 1991, p 2). By creating hives and environments that are conducive to bee sustainment, it is possible that strides can be to reverse the downward trend in populations. This is critical as one study showed. It stated that the loss of bees was a domino effect to other species. It stated, “If bee pollinated flowers do not seed, the integrity of Europe’s remaining semi natural vegetation will be destroyed and the colorful flowers of the countryside will be lost. This in turn will deprive many other herbivorous or seed-eating insects, birds and small mammals of their host plants and/or food, with consequent further loss of species diversity”(Corbet, Williams, & Osborne,1991, p 2). Through the saving of the bees, the increase of pollinated of other species helps ensure survival of flowers
Action 2 = Humans can stop polluting the soil and surface of lands through illegal dumping, spills, etc. that contaminate and kill lichens that are critical in soil creation and providing nutrients to other plants and trees. With the help of government agencies and through stricter enforcement, creation of neutral pesticides and chemicals, and other products to eliminate harm to the environment and providing a healthier ecosystem for all life to thrive.
Action 3 = The best way to save our tree populations is to protect the public lands from forest harvesting and ensure there environmental regulations for commercial logging businesses.
“93% of the forestland in the United States is privately owned” (Hazelbaker, 2008, para. 1). That means that there are plenty of lands available for harvesting and ensuring forests do not die off and leave the negative impacts and loss of a precious resource. Due to the benefits that can be found in the national and state forests, such as clean air, fresh water, etc. I feel it is a good practice to prevent commercial access on these lands. These lands serve as a refuge to wildlife and often provide unique opportunities to the citizens who rarely get an opportunity to experience nature and these environments.
POST LAB QUESTIONS
1. Develop a hypothesis on which pot you believe will contain the highest biodiversity.
Hypothesis = One pot has direct exposure to sunlight it will have the highest level of biodiversity
2. Based on the results of your experiment, would you reject or accept the hypothesis that you produced in question 1? Explain how you determined this.
Accept/Reject = Reject. Table 2 of this experiment, the pot that was placed from all windows had a greater diversity of growth from the random seeds planted in it, versus the one with direct sunlight. The pot that had direct sunlight yielded smaller totals in each of the five plants planted in each pot as well as a smaller overall plant yield. While some individual plants had close results, there was a total difference of the total plants of 48.
3. If each pot was a sample you found in a group of wildflowers, would you determine based on the diversity of flowers that the ecosystem is healthy? Why or why not.
Answer = I would say that each sample would yield results of a healthy ecosystem based on the diversity in each sample. Each plant has samples of all five seeded plants planted and yielded results in two weeks. While both specimens yielded results, I would say the ecosystem sample that was not in direct sunlight did show signs of a healthier ecosystem and believe that the temperature and light changes the other sample was exposed to could have played a part in the results. Example, living in Arizona my residence has low humidity and low temperatures at night and moderate temperatures in the mid-morning through sundown that affected the sample with sunlight exposure.
The other sample, the one away from the windows, sat in the middle of my apartment on a shelf in the laundry room, with no direct exposure to sunlight, but not completely in the dark, had more stable temperatures and had constant ambient light exposure through the day and did not suffer cold drafts from the windows that could have made the other specimens plants yield lower results.
4. How does biodiversity contribute to the overall health of an ecosystem? Provide specific examples and utilize at least one scholarly resource to back your answer.
Answer = Biodiversity contributes to all levels of an ecosystem.
“Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, includes the genetic variation between all organisms, species, and populations, and all of their complex communities and ecosystems. It also reflects to the interrelatedness of genes, species, and ecosystems and their interactions with the environment” (Bottcher & Rex, 2012, p. 39). The experiment with the two pots is similar to that of a forest ecosystem. “A functioning forest ecosystem, for example, exhibits rates of plant production, carbon storage, and nutrient cycling that are characteristic of most forests” (Chapin, Costanza, Ehrlich, Golley, Hooper, Lawton, & Tilman, 1999, para. 9). The five seeds that grew in each pot were sharing nutrients from the soil and the evidence showed that certain species thrived in numbers over the others that grew.
As one research analysis on biodiversity, there are always species interactions that have impact on the other species. The study stated, “Ecosystem functioning results from interactions among and within different levels of the biota, which ecologists describe as a “nested” hierarchy. Example, green plant production on land is the end product of interactions of individual plants nested within populations; interactions among populations nested within a single species; interactions among a variety of species nested within a group of functionally similar species; and so on up to the level of interactions between different types of ecosystems nested within landscapes”
(Chapin, Costanza, Ehrlich, Golley, Hooper, Lawton, & Tilman, 1999, para. 11). While some ecosystems continue to exist, some thrive, the harm being done to, and overall health of the ecosystem is dependent on the actions we as humans take. Our society has destroyed ecosystems, species, etc. and pollution, air quality, and other factors have seen many ecosystems destroyed and become extinct. “From current research, we have identified the following impacts on ecosystem functioning that often result from loss of biodiversity:
-Plant production may decline as regional and local diversity declines;
-Ecosystem resistance to environmental perturbations, such as drought, may be lessened as biodiversity is reduced.
-Ecosystem processes such as soil nitrogen levels, water use, plant productivity, and pest and disease cycles may become more variable as diversity declines” (Chapin, Costanza, Ehrlich, Golley, Hooper, Lawton, & Tilman, 1999, para. 11). In the end, if action is not taken soon, the devastation created through our industrialization, over population in countries across the world, etc. can lead to consequences that can see more devastation and harm that may not be able to be undone if our society fails to take the necessary action to sustain life of all ecosystems.
Hilmo, O., & Såstad, S. M. (2001). Colonization of old-forest lichens in a young and an old boreal< i> Picea abies forest: an experimental approach. Biological Conservation, 102 (3), 251-259.
Chapin III, F. S., Costanza, R., Ehrlich, P. R., Golley, F. B., Hooper, D. U., Lawton, J. H., … & Tilman, D. (1999). Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: maintaining natural life support processes. Washington, DC: Ecological Society of America.
Hazelbaker, J. (2008). Logging on national forests national forest management zero cut – no. Retrieved from: http://www.worldissues360.com/index.php/logging-on-national-forests-national-forest-management-zero-cut-no-26744/.
Corbet, S. A., Williams, I. H., & Osborne, J. L. (1991). Bees and the pollination of crops and wild flowers in the European Community. Bee World 7 (2), 47-59.