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Westside Nature Preserve Ecological Laboratory, Lab Report Example

Pages: 1

Words: 781

Lab Report

Introduction

This report is about biodiversity and decomposition. It covers ecological topics which were seen in the Westside Nature Preserve. In an ecosystem, there is a certain element which controls productivity, decomposition and the nutrient cycle; in this paper, it is seen as the plant. There is a diversity of species such as plants which affect the ecosystem and how its functions. The biodiversity in these ecosystems strongly influence the productivity, the soil nutrient availability, the stability of the environment and also the resistance towards foreign invasions. Along with these direct effects of biodiversity, the “after-life” of plants is very important to the ecosystem process.

The process of decomposition determines the health of the minerals and nutrients found in the ecosystem, and this determines productivity. Decomposition is defined as a process where the dead tissues of an organism break down into simpler forms; this is essential for new growth and the development of other living organisms. Biodiversity is the variation of organisms within a certain ecosystem; it is a measure of health of ecosystems. The hypothesis of this paper is that biodiversity is a function of decomposition. Additionally, it is in the stages of decomposition we will see this connection. As the stages of decomposition increase, biodiversity will decrease.

Materials and Methods

The process of gathering first hand-data for this experiment is by comparing the decomposition rate of a log with the number of insects in a controlled ecosystem. This is called the “Rotting Log” experiment. There are seven groups of students which have controlled ecosystems with one decaying log, and a number of insects which are gathered. The insects are counted and categorized by species, they are measured in centimeters and their biomass is analyzed according to their categories. Their average and combined data are also noted, along with their proportions. The log is also monitored during it’s “after-life” span, and its decaying class is noted along with given measurements. The log is observed over a period of time, and the diameter as well as the length is kept track of. Along with this, the rate of insects according to diversity by group or category is also monitored. This later will be used for comparison, if the stages of decomposition directly affect the biodiversity of the insects. The biodiversity of the index will be measured using the Shannon-Weaver index which is used to measure diversity according to categorical data.

Results

The hypothesis states is that as the stages of decomposition increase, biodiversity will be seen to decrease. The first table shows a list of the expected organisms and count according to the groups.

Table 1

Table 1

The second table shows the average combined data of the insects, their total numbers and their distribution among the groups.

Table 2

Table 2

The third table shows the rotting log table with the information and data monitored by each group.

Table 3

Table 3

The fourth table is the Shannon-Weaver biodiversity index according to the groups, and the average of the entire class.

Table 4

Table 4

The graph shows the relation between the decomposition stage and the biodiversity in the insects, this is a synthesis of the information and data gathered throughout the experiment.

The results shows that group three has the highest level of insect biodiversity, and according to the decay class of their log, they are have a slower decay as compared to group two who has the lowest level of insect biodiversity and the higher stage of log decay. There is a slight inconsistency in the results, with group six showing a biodiversity level which is lower than group three; however the decay process is also slower. However, the other results proved consistent with the hypothesis.

Discussion

In this experiment, we observed the rate and stages of decomposition, and its connection to biodiversity. The stages of decomposition were monitored along with the level or index of biodiversity seen in as insect organisms in a given and controlled ecosystem. It was found that the stages of biodiversity does in fact affect the level of biodiversity within organisms, and as the stages of decomposition increase, there is a decrease seen in the biodiversity of organisms.

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