Ecosystem Column

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Modeling Ecosystems - EcoColumn
Purpose - to provide an opportunity to explore several types of ecosystems, the components of these
systems, the conditions required for sustainability for each, and the interconnections between the various
ecosystem column chambers. Other connections - succession of organisms in the ecosystem with
establishment of varying conditions.

Materials for construction -
5 two-liter clear (no color) plastic soda bottles: labels removed, rinsed (see “Bottle Basics”)
3 caps to two-liter plastic bottles: drilled as indicated on specification diagram
Rocks/pebbles : for aquatic chamber: rinsed with the distilled water (for plant)
1 plastic straw
soil, leaves, grass clippings, banana peel (not apple, citrus, nor potato)
46 seeds for terrestrial chamber
1 aquatic plant (anacharis, hornwort, green hedge, ledwigia, elodea...)
fauna for aquatic chamber ( snail, fish, crayfish, frog...)
water: purified/filtered water (distilled, reverse osmosis)
utility knifes, exacto knives, scissors
clear mailing-type tape

Construction - see diagram at end of packet

Note: Every individual must complete this assignment in their own notebook! You should work together as
a group but each individual must write their own final report and keep up with all the data. No
accommodation will be made for missing data due to incomplete and delayed recording.

EcoColumn Habitat Procedure, Data & Analysis Description

One of the key aspects of scientific research is measuring and recording your data. In order to document
changes throughout the course of your experiment, you must begin with an accurate description of exactly
what is in your ecocolumn and what you anticipate will occur (hypothesis).

Hypothesis What you anticipate will occur in this experiment – must be specific and testable

Introduction You will write about ecosystems (definition, parts and factors of any ecosystem, roles, flow &
cycling of energy, biomass, chemicals, sustainability, modeling systems) for the final report. Cite a few
research studies in this section using APA style. In the final report you will reference the following (and
place it in the appendix). Today you must start this by:
          Sketching the potential food webs you anticipate taking place within your ecocolumn. Make every
effort to identify the species you have added specifically as possible. If an organism is unidentifiable,
include a sketch of it (you may use a stereo scope and microscopes to help with this). Include the
following in your web:

        a. Start by sketching each organism in a neatly drawn small circle ( 1” diameter). Label your
           organism and magnification underneath the circle.

        b. Identify the role(s) of each organism by putting one of the following letters just beneath or next
            to the name of the organism: P-producer, C-consumer (1° , 2, 3), D-decomposer, S-

        b. Show the flow of energy in your food web by drawing energy arrows. These lines should go
           from the energy source towards the organisms that gets (eats) that energy (food). Don’t
           forget the sun!
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1) Draw a diagram that shows your ecocolumn and what is in each habitat. You must list the biotic and
abiotic factors along the side and in separate descriptive paragraphs.

2) Record your procedure for set up. You must document the order and amount (grams or ml) of abiotic
addition in each section, as well as the order and amount (grams) of biotic addition in each section. Use
the scales and glassware to help you measure everything you add to the ecocolumn. This will be written in
past tense paragraph form for the final report.

Data tables, graphs to summarize the raw data (reference raw data in the appendix)
The raw data is used to generate graphs

Analysis Analyze & draw conclusions about sustainability of ecosystems, interactions of biotic/abiotic
factors in ecosystems, interaction of unique ecosystems for the larger system (biosphere), and
geochemical cycling.include the verbal description and explanation of trends observed, changes
demonstrated by observations. Include correlation and paramentic statistical analysis where appropriate
and possible.

Conclusion section should thoughtfully and extensively include narrative that shows that you can relate
the observations to the purpose of the activity. Explain the data (trends, observations, anomalies…). Are
these the expected outcomes? Why/why not? Any prediction of what would be observed if the ecosystem
had been allowed to continue? How is this related to our class content? Evaluate the quality of this
activity-- is it a reasonable model? A model for....? How should this be improved?

Personal Learning is still required. Be aware that humor is only appropriate if it is also related to the
activity and the class content and themes.

Energy web (formulated on day 1)
Raw Data (all accumulated day-to-day data from the project)
       Sketches of organisms                                        Abiotic parameter data
       Images (photos) or sketches of system                        Observations

Points to ponder as you make observations over the course of this experiment

       Differences between the chambers
       Food chains and food webs present
       Biogeochemical cycles in action
       Compare and contrast your simulated ecosystems with natural ecosystems outside the class
       Open or closed system? Which applies to your ecosystem column?
       Describe the available niches
       Is there any evidence for competitive exclusion or resource partitioning?
       Have you observed the law of tolerance in action?
       What limiting factors exist?
       Discuss evidence of ecological succession taking place in your column
       Compare and contrast your lab group’s column with others in the course.
       Discuss the stability and sustainability of your ecosystem column