Field Projects (Essay Sample)
In the first field project you experimented with the process by which ecologists may identify what organisms inhabit a given plot and specific traits seen in species. With this second activity you explore the way organisms are distributed throughout their environment.
Ecologists identify several classic patterns of dispersal. (You will examine “distribution” and “density” for you chosen populations in the project.)
Review sections 8.7, 8.8 and 15.14
Your job with this assignment is to classify a population’s distribution into one of the patterns described in your text.
Step One: Identify, delineate, and describe your plot.
Step Two: Identify and describe the two types of organisms you will be studying.
HINT: don’t pick things that move!
You are not required to work with two species, or even two populations. Because you are limited in time and space, you just need to identify two different types of organisms that can be clearly identified and distinguished. The experiment must be repeatable.
For example: “female willow”, “male willow” (yes, willow comes in male and female plants).
For example, if you choose to use “short crocus plant” and “tall crocus plant” you need to explain exactly how you determined a crocus was tall or short AND why you chose these two categories.
Step Three: Divide your plot into 4 sampling units.
Notice that as in activity #1, you choose the size of your plot. This gives you to practice choosing a pragmatic size for your organism. You elaborate on your choice of plot size and organism in the DISCUSSION section of your report.
Step Four: Diagram the location of the individuals of each type on one of the sampling units.
Describe the density and distribution of each of the organisms within each sampling unit.
Repeat for another one of the 4 units.
Now diagram the location of individuals for the entire plot. Which types of dispersal as discussed in sections 8.7 & 8.8 and 15.14 are represented by your organisms? Explain why you reached these conclusions and then describe the features of the organisms and the plot that impacted this dispersal pattern.
Step Five: Write up your report.
Your final written presentation will include an INTRODUCTION describing the study area, why you chose this, perhaps why you thought it might be interesting and some background information on the organisms you’re working with.
METHODS: You describe exactly what you did and how you made the diagram.
RESULTS: Includes your graphics and written results.
DISCUSSION: This sums up the significance of what you found. What did you learn? How could you apply this information to another project or idea? Why did you choose the size plot that you did? Why do you suppose the subject types were distributed in this pattern? Do you think that you would see the same pattern if you used a plot that an order of magnitude bigger? Explain. What about 3 orders of magnitude bigger? Again, explain.
Relative the amount of time and space, the plot chosen is in the temperate grassland. It is a plot that is two meters by two meters. The temperate grasslands are composed of a great richness in grasses and a few shrubs and trees that are scattered across the plains (Defenders of Wildlife, 2012). It is quite expansive and thus sampling one plot can be quite a task, however in this case the plot was selected at random. The plot chosen does not have any trees or shrubs. The plot is oriented with the compass, such that each side of the plot is aligned with one direction of the compass.
On the plot there are quite a number of species of grass, which make the plot one of the richest in the surrounding area. However, in this case only two of the available organisms will be under the study relative to the scope requirements. The main species that are going to be under study are the Purple Needle Grass and the Blue Grama that are quite spread-out in the plot of choice. The two organisms chosen are different in characteristics and can easily be identified from one another on the plot, with respect to the presence or their absence (Plants.usda.gov, 2015b).
Purple needle grass
This is an organism that is perennial, which develops culms that can grow to the height of about 24-39 inches (Plants.usda.gov, 2015b). It produces nodding panicles that can be between 4 to 8 inches which are also open, while the leaves tend to be 0.8 to 3.5 mm wide. It is a plant that expands its reach vegetatively. The mycorrhizal is arbuscular and has a rooting depth estimated at 25 inches especially in the deep soils.
The other species that is going to be under consideration is the Blue Grama grass, which is also quite spread out in the plot (Plants.usda.gov, 2015a).
This is also a perennial grass, which is native and makes up more than 75% of the grasses in the prairies. This organism reproduces through seeds alone and can grow to a height of about 20 inches, bending into a curve that can be seen to look like the eye lashes of a human being (Plants.usda.gov, 2015a). One of its main characteristics is associated with the fact that it is draught resistant and also survives growing in highly alkaline soils. It also forms part of the most palatable grasses and nutritious to the animals in the grassland.
The plot was subdivided into four parts along the compass directio...
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