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NASC 5 Environmental Biology 1

Ex1. Ecosystem Components and Interactions


Introduction
Ecology may be broadly defined as the study of the interrelationships or interactions
among the different components of the ecosystem. All the ecosystem components are directly
and /or indirectly linked with one another. There is constant interchange of various kinds within
each system, not only between the organic and inorganic (Tansley,1935). The linking forces are
two processes: the energy flow process, and the biochemical cycle. In other words, ecosystem
components are linked to one another by the transfer of energy and nutrients via trophic
(feeding) relationships. It can be said that these two processes unify the ecosystem to function
as a unit. Of equal importance in the functioning of the ecosystem is the evolutionary process,
which is unique to living organism.
Students of environmental biology will learn about the interactions and relationships of the
various components of the ecosystem by directly observing the organism in their natural habitat.
Observation in the field will be strengthened by group discussions and by answering the guide
questions given in the exercise.
Objectives:
At the end of the exercise, the student should be able to:
1. enumerate the different components of the ecosystem
2. describe the interaction of the different component of the ecosystem; and
3. understand the functioning of the ecosystem.
Procedure:
As a group, visit different types of natural and man-made ecosystems found in the vicinity of the
UPLB Campus. For each ecosystem, study the different components comprising it. Fill up Table 1
and 2 by following the procedure below:
A. Autotrophic organisms
a. At each area, survey the plants growing in it. List the growth habit (tree, shrub, herb,
vines or creepers)
b. Count the number of different species of plants that you observe in the plot. Enumerate
them (common names will do). If possible, count the number of individuals that are
present per species of plant (If you cannot count all the individuals, indicate with the
phrase too many to count)
c. Observe where these plants are growing. What physical factors of the environment are
interacting with the plants? Describe how plants are affected and how the plant
responses to the factors of the physical environment.
d. How do plants modify or influence the physical environment? What do they contribute
to the environment?
e. Observe closely how each plant is relating to another plant. What possible relationships
exist among them? Is there a noticeable pattern (random, even, clump) on how each
plant species is situated in the plot.
f. Are there other groups of photosynthetic organisms present in the plot? Enumerate
them. Where are they growing? What physical factors of the environment affect them?
g. How do you call these photosynthetic organisms in relation to their role in the
ecosystems?

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Ex1. Ecosystem Components and Interactions

B. Heterotrophic organisms
Macroconsumers
a. Enumerate the different species of animals that you observe in the area. If possible,
count the number of individuals that are present per species of animal.
b. Try to determine the feeding type of each animal (herbivores, carnivores and
omnivores). Aside from food what other benefits do animals get from these plants?
c. What characteristics of animals differentiate them from plants? Which group of
organisms are more numerous, the plants of the animals? Try to give a reason for this
observation based on your readings and based on our class discussion.
d. What physical factors of the environment are affecting the animals? Describe how
these animals are relating to the physical environment.
e. Observe closely how each animal is relating to other animals. What possible
relationships exist between animals of different species? Is there a noticeable pattern
(random, even, clump) on how the each animal species is situated in the plot.
Microconsumers
a. Observe the presence of mushrooms and other fungi present in the plot vicinity. Where
are these fungi growing? Do you observe whitish thread-like structure in the soil or in
other places? What are they? What are the roles of fungi in the ecosystem?
b. Using pertinent literature, enumerate other organisms present in the soil that have
similar roles in the ecosystem as the fungi.
c. What are some physical factors of the soil environment that affect the growth of these
groups of organism? Discuss briefly.
d. How do you call the type of food web these organisms form?
C. Ecosystem Diagrams
For each ecosystem, make a food web using the different organisms observed in the area.
D. Recapitulation (for forest ecosystem only)
a. Observe a fallen log.
b. Enumerate the different organisms growing on it. Can this be considered an
ecosystem? Why or why not?

NASC 5 Environmental Biology 3


Ex1. Ecosystem Components and Interactions

Note: The questions given in the procedure will help you discover the interactions and
interrelationships among the different components of the ecosystem. The answer to these
questions will help you fill the tables, as well as discuss what you observed for your report, which
will be submitted one week after the performance of the exercise. Incorporate all answers
to the questions in the discussion.
It is best that your group discuss the exercise during your free time after the trip. However,
individual reports must be submitted. The data to be presented in the tables may be an output of
all the members of the group but the discussion and the answers to the questions must be
individual effort.
You should prepare your own diagrams to show interactions of the various components of
each ecosystem. These diagrams should be presented as part of the handwritten report.
Margins: 1.5 left, 1top, bottom and right
Spacing: 1.5
Top of page indicate the following
Name:
NASC 5 CD4R)
Faculty-in-charge:

Course and Section: (ex.


Group Name:

Content:
Title of the exercise
I.
Intorduction make your own, do not copy the guide
II.
Objectives copy the stated objectives in the guide
III.
Methodology describe briefly but completely how data was gathered in each
ecosystem. You may refer to the procedure. Make sure to write in past tense, as the
report will be submitted after the conduct of the activity
IV.
Results Fill-up tables 1 and 2. Make food web using the observed organisms for each
ecosystem. Provide individual biotic tables for the different ecosystems (label table1a,
1b etc)
V.
Discussion discuss the exercise using the questions raised in the procedure as guide.
Include an analysis or a simple explanation of each diagram in the discussion. Also be
guided by the objectives of this activity. Use relevant literature to back up your
discussion, but make sure to cite them properly.
VI.
Conclusion make your own conclusions. Base your conclusions on the objectives set
in the activity.
VII.
References list alphabetically all references and materials used to support your
discussions. It is highly recommended you use a minimum of 3 scholarly
references. Use the format found in this link
(http://web.clark.edu/tkibota/240/Disease/LitCit.pdf)

Habit (one,
or Type
few, many)
(dumped,
Number
even,Distribution Pattern

Physical factors affecting organism

Table 1____. Biotic components of the ________________________ ecosystem.

NASC 5 Environmental Biology 4


Ex1. Ecosystem Components and Interactions

Ecosystem 1

Ecosystem 2

*write NONE, if the factor does not have a role in the ecosystem

Between factorsDescription of interaction

Role of Physical factor

MacroconsumersHeterotrophs

PlantsAutotrophs

Biotic Component

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Ex1. Ecosystem Components and Interactions

Air

WAVE VELOCITY

WIND VELOCITY

RELATIVE
HUMIDITY

Water

Soil

TEMPERATURE

LIGHT INTENSITY

Affecting/ interacting with


Physical factor
Physical/ Biotic Factor
it

environment, their interactionsand Table 2. physical Factors if the

NASC 5 Environmental Biology 6


Ex1. Ecosystem Components and Interactions