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Biology 1, Philippine Science High School Main Campus Laboratory Activity # 1: ECOLOGY

The study of ecology begins with the understanding of how an individual organism relates to its environment. The environment is formally defined as all the elements in an organisms surroundings that can influence its behavior, reproduction, and survival. These elements may be physical or abiotic factors such as light, temperature, pH, and relative humidity, to name a few. A living organism influences the life of the other; this is referred to as the biotic environment. An animal feeding on a plant is an example of an effect of the biotic environment on both the plant and the animal.

Objectives:
1. To differentiate the physical environment of a forest, grassland, and aquatic ecosystem. 2. To describe the responses of organisms to variations in the physical and biological environments.

Materials: (to be provided by the teacher, except for those marked *)


Forest Ecosystem 10m string 3 glass thermometers 1 soil thermometer w/ wooden block 3 meter sticks 1 light meter watch* Grassland Ecosystem 10m string 3 glass thermometers 1 soil thermometer w/ wooden block 3 meter sticks 1 light meter powdered coffee powdered juice sugar salt watch* Aquatic Ecosystem 3 glass thermometers 3 soil thermometers w/ wooden block 3 meter stick 1 light meter 3 sampling bottles w/ string 2 hand refractometers 2 droppers 2 waste jars distilled, deionized water pH paper tissue paper*

Procedure for the Forest Ecosystem Group:


1. A patch of forest will be assigned to your group. Using a piece of string, run a 10m line transect through the forest site. This line transect will be used as a reference point for vegetation and for gathering data for physical factors of the environment. 2. In your worksheet, record the time of the day, weather, condition of the sky (cloud cover), and percent shade (if any). 3. Make simultaneous readings (3 trials each) of air and soil temperature and of light intensity on three points along the line transect: start, middle, and end. Measure the air temperature 1m above the ground. To get the soil temperature, stick the tip of the soil thermometer 5cm into the ground. Keep the tip of the thermometer stuck in the soil while reading the temperature. 4. List all the plant species growing along the line transect. Use Species 1, Species 2, and so on if you cannot identify the particular name of the plant species. Classify them according to habit of growth (i.e., tree, shrub, herb, vine). List all the animal species found in the forest site. Since animals are highly mobile, make a general observation on the whole forest area. Detect also the presence of animals using indirect documentation of left-over tracks, bird calls, artifacts such as spider webs, and excretory products present. Page 1 of 6

5. Locate a group of ants in the forest. Record where you found them. Document the ants behavior while minimizing any form of disturbance. Note the sequence of activities they perform and the approximate time spent for each activity. For 10 minutes, carefully observe the following: direction and rate of movement, presence of some form of communication, and whether or not they carry any materials. 6. Disturb the same group of ants from their activity by simulating natural forest disturbances such as falling tree branches, trampling by forest animals, and rainfall. Document their behavioral response to the disturbance.

Procedure for the Grassland Ecosystem Group:


1. A patch of grassland will be assigned to your group. Using a piece of string, run a 10m line transect 0through the grassland site. This line transect will be used as a reference point for vegetation and for gathering data for physical factors of the environment. 2. In your worksheet, record the time of the day, weather, condition of the sky (cloud cover), and percent shade (if any). 3. Make simultaneous readings (3 trials each) of air and soil temperature and of light intensity on three points along the line transect: start, middle, and end. Measure the air temperature 1m above the ground. To get the soil temperature, stick tip of the soil thermometer 5cm into the ground. Keep the tip of the thermometer stuck in the soil while reading the temperature. 4. List all the plant species growing along the transect line. Use Species 1, Species 2, and so on if you cannot identify the particular name of the plant species. Classify them according to habit of growth (i.e., tree, shrub, herb, vine). List all the animal species found in the grassland site. Since animals are highly mobile, make a general observation on the whole grassland area. Detect also the presence of animals using indirect documentation of left-over tracks, bird calls, artifacts such as spider webs, and excretory products present. 5. Locate a group of ants in the grassland. Record where you found them. Place different food sources near the trail of ants. Note their responses to the different food sources as either positive or negative. A positive response means that the ants start carrying or feeding on the food sources.

Procedure for the Aquatic Ecosystem Group:


1. Each of three subgroups will be assigned to a portion of the creek: upstream, midstream, downstream. In your worksheet, record the time of the day, weather, condition of the sky (cloud cover), and percent shade (if any). 2. Along the banks of your part of the creek, make simultaneous readings (3 trials each) of air, soil, and temperature and of light intensity. Measure the air temperature 1m above the ground. To get the soil temperature, stick the tip of the soil thermometer 5cm into the banks of the creek (or as close as you can get to the water). Keep the tip of the thermometer stuck in the soil while reading the temperature. To get the water temperature, simply dip the glass thermometer in the water. 3. Obtain a water sample from the creek using the sampling bottle; be careful NOT to break the bottle. Measure the salinity and pH (3 trials each) of the water sample using the hand refractometer and pH paper, respectively. 4. Record the pollutants in the creek and suggest ways of eliminating or minimizing their presence.

Modified from:
Caldas, M.P., V.C. Cuevas, Z.N. Sierra, C.R. Cervancia, M.T. Zafaralla. 2000. Laboratory Guide in Ecology. Environmental Biology Division, Institute of Biological Science, CAS, UPLB Pub. p. 1-6.

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Laboratory Activity # 1: ECOLOGY WORKSHEET Detach pages 1, 2, and 6 before submitting this worksheet.
Section & Group No.: CN & Name: Date(s) performed: Date submitted:

Forest Ecosystem Data


TABLE 1. ABIOTIC FACTORS IN THE FOREST ECOSYSTEM Time of the Day Weather Condition of the Sky Percent Shade

Transect Point Start 1st trial 2nd trial 3rd trial Avg Mid 1st trial 2nd trial 3rd trial Avg End 1st trial 2nd trial 3rd trial Avg

Air Temperature (oC)

Soil Temperature (oC)

Light Intensity (

TABLE 2A. BIOTIC FACTORS IN THE FOREST ECOSYSTEM PLANT AND ANIMAL SPECIES Plant Species Observed Habit of Growth Animal Species Observed Evidence of Presence

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TABLE 2B. BIOTIC FACTORS IN THE FOREST ECOSYSTEM OBSERVATION OF ANT RESPONSE TO DISTURBANCE Location of ants relative to transect Ant behavior without disturbance (10mins)

Type of disturbance

Ant behavior with disturbance Behavioral response

Grassland Ecosystem Data


TABLE 3. ABIOTIC FACTORS IN A GRASSLAND ECOSYSTEM Time of the Day Weather Condition of the Sky Percent Shade

Transect Point Start 1st trial 2nd trial 3rd trial Avg Mid 1st trial 2nd trial 3rd trial Avg End 1st trial 2nd trial 3rd trial Avg

Air Temperature (oC)

Soil Temperature (oC)

Light Intensity (

TABLE 4A. BIOTIC FACTORS IN THE GRASSLAND ECOSYSTEM PLANT AND ANIMAL SPECIES Plant Species Observed Habit of Growth Animal Species Observed Evidence of Presence

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TABLE 4B. BIOTIC FACTORS IN THE GRASSLAND ECOSYSTEM OBSERVATION OF A NT RESPONSE TO FOOD Location of ants relative to transect Ant response to food Food source Response

Aquatic Ecosystem Data


TABLE 5. ABIOTIC FACTORS IN AN AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM Time of the Day Weather Condition of the Sky Percent Shade

Creek Site Upstream 1st trial 2nd trial 3rd trial Avg 1st trial 2nd trial 3rd trial Avg 1st trial 2nd trial 3rd trial Avg

Air Temp (oC)

Soil Temp (oC)

Water Temp (oC)

Lt Intensity ( )

Salinity (ppt)

pH

Midstream

Downstream

TABLE 6. POLLUTANTS PRESENT IN THE CREEK Pollutants Ways of eliminating/minimizing their presence

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Analysis and Discussion


1. Each type of ecosystem has biotic and abiotic components. How do the observations and measurements of the abiotic components relate to observations on biotic components within the ecosystem assigned to your group? Discuss your data. If there seem to be inconsistencies in your data, analyze the probable sources of error. 2. Based on the data and observations gathered, would you say that the ecosystem assigned to your group is in a stable condition? Justify your answer. 3. Briefly discuss general similarities and differences between the forest, grassland, and aquatic ecosystems, as shown by the data obtained by the class. 4. If you were to continue the study started by your group on the specific aspect of the assigned ecosystem, what kind of information would you gather? Design a simple experiment for this.

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