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Ecology is the study of living organisms and their interaction with each other and the nonliving environment.

It involves trying to figure out why species look and act like they do, and live where they do. What patterns do we see in nature? Most of the concepts are very easy to understand and apply. Many of them you are probably already familiar with. This packet will be your assignment for this unit, and only one packet will be completed per pair. Choose your partner CAREFULLY, because there will only be one grade for the finished product. You can work alone, although it will take more time. This packet will require investigative, independent learning. The answers to the questions will not always be easy to find, and often, there is not just one correct answer. Completing this assignment is going to require you to educate yourself about some topics, find your own resources, figure out how to interpret data, and come to your own conclusions. In essence, you will have to use some of the exact skills required by ecologists! Your main resources are your book, power point notes, and your teacher. However, at times, you will have to use the library and the internet as well. Explore, and have fun! Packet Due Wed February 14th

Species are not randomly distributed across the globe. Instead, the characteristics of species are often set by the climate of the region. As a result, the same (or similar) species tend to appear together over and over again anywhere that climate is found. Scientists have identified seven (sometimes more) distinct biomes, which are identified by specific species and climatological characteristics. Each biome is found in various regions across the globe, where these conditions exist. See the map below.

Fill out the table below summarizing the important features of biomes. Average temperature is not included in the table, because you are probably already familiar with this information. Biome Tundra Taiga Deciduous Forest Grassland/savanna Chaparral Desert Tropical Rain forest In what way are deserts and tundra similar______________________________? Which biome is most important to preserve, and why? Location example Average Rainfall Characteristic Animals Characteristic Plants Other significant Characteristics

What kind of soils do tropical rain forests have? Does this make sense given the diversity of life found in them? Explain how this works.

For the biomes and interspecific interactions listed below, find an example, and describe the relationship (who is benefiting or being harmed and how). Biome A. Tropical Rain forest B. Grassland C. Tundra A. Relationship mutualism commensalism parasitism



When both species are harmed by their interaction, we call the interaction COMPETITION. Competition obviously doesnt occur in all situations when two species interact. Describe, in general terms, when you would expect competition between two species. What conditions must be present?

In order to truly understand competition, you have to understand the concept of niche. Learn about niches and the difference between a fundamental niche and a realized niche. You will use this information for the following example.

In the deserts and chaparral of the southwest, there are many species of mice and rats that are primarily seed eaters. There are five listed below. These species all live in the same habitat, and compete for the same resources. These mammals are different sizes, and therefore have the ability to eat slightly different sized food. The maximum ranges of seed sizes are given, i.e. these are the possible seed sizes they can eat.
Species name Dipodomys merriami Dipodomys deserti Peromyscus pallidus Peromyscus maniculatus Perognathus spinatus Common name Merriams kangaroo rat Desert kangaroo rat Pale pocket mouse Deer mouse Spiny pocket mouse Body length (not inc.tail) 16cm 20cm 11cm 11cm 12cm Possible Seed Range (mm) 0.5 10.0 2.0 20.0 0.3 3.0 0.3 1.5 1.0 4.0 Actual seed sizes consumed

Your job is to figure out how these species are going to divide up the food resources in the environment so that each species gets enough to eat. Once you have figured this out, fill out the last column in the table. One way to work this out is to place each species on the range of seed size. In this way, you can look for overlap, and minimize it. First place the species possible ranges on the first line (below). Then modify these ranges on the second line to determined actual sizes consumed. Possible seed size (fundamental niches)
Dipodomys merriami Dipodomys deserti Peromyscus pallidus Peromyscus maniculatus Perognathus spinatus

0cm Actual seed size (realized niches)

Dipodomys merriami Dipodomys deserti Peromyscus pallidus Peromyscus maniculatus Perognathus spinatus




If you have completed this exercise properly, then you will have demonstrated an example of resource partitioning. Explain what this means.

If two species of mice were unable to share the seeds, and both tried to eat the exact same seeds at the same time (fill the same niche), then what did Gauss suggest would happen?

There are several different predators of these mice. In order to figure out what they are, you will have to learn something about these mice. Report your relevant findings below:

Now you should be able to identify at least two predators of these mice. 1. 2.

Dissect an OWL PELLET (Lab 36), and try to identify the prey species inside. Once the lab is completed, attach it to this packet before turning it in. Prey species (all types, not just mice) have many different ways that they can avoid predation. List some of them below. Dont forget to think about plants as well, because they have to defend themselves against predation too! Also, put an asterisk next to the ones that these mice species might use. You should now have some idea of the species living in the ecosystem of the mice, and can begin to put together a food web. At this point, you should complete the lab on food webs, Lab 38. Before you do this, make sure that you have a solid understanding of ecological roles (producer, consumer, decomposer) and trophic levels. When you have finished the lab, attach it to this packet before turning it in.

In the process of completing this lab, you should have learned something about how energy makes its way through food chains. Ultimately, the amount of organisms that can be supported in an ecosystem, and the number of levels possible in a food chain is set by the amount of energy that enters the ecosystem from the bottom. This leads us to Net Primary Productivity. For clarification, define NPP below in your own words. NPP is_________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ Below you will find some data relating to several biomes and their NPP. Information is also provided about the average latitude where each biome is found in the Northern Hemisphere. Make a graph comparing NPP to latitude, starting at the North Pole. NPP is the DEPENDENT variable. Biome Tundra Temp. Deciduous Forest Coniferous Forest Tropical Rain Forest NPP (kcal/m2/yr) 600 5900 3200 8900 Latitude 90o 30o 60o 90o

In one sentence, describe the trend that you observe in the graph above. ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________

There are several different reasons that you might have found this trend. For example, it might depend upon several abiotic factors such as average temperature, yearly temperature range (max-min), average amount of precipitation, or the depth and quality of the soil. Below you will find data relating to each of these factors. You need to use this information to decide which of the following factors seem to be significant in predicting the amount of NPP possible in a biome.

Biome Tundra Coniferous forest Temp decid. Forest Tropical rain forest

Average temp (oC) -10 0 10 24

Temperatur e range (oC) 29 36 24 3

Average precipitation (cm) 12 53 125 262

Average soil depth (cm) 15 34 280 65

Which factors are likely to affect NPP?______________________________________

The climate of a given location is determined by the amount of solar radiation that hits that area of the earth. This, in turn affects temperature and rainfall. If either of these factors is responsible for the trend in NPP, then you must first be able to explain how these factors vary over latitude (as you have shown NPP does). Show how SOLAR RADIATION changes over LATITUDE, and use a DIAGRAM of the earth to explain your point. Diagram: Explanation:

Now you must explain how solar radiation affects NPP. Carefully describe the connection in a paragraph below.

In Southern California, we have the incredibly high biodiversity. This is due in large part to the fact that we have a wide variety of microclimates present in a relatively small geographic area. To understand this, it is necessary to take a look at the topography of Southern California. The 34oN latitude line transects Southern California from the ocean to the state border. Draw the topography of Southern California as this imaginary line cuts it.
15,000 Altitude (ft) 10,000 5,000

34oN ocean state line

Now, using this diagram, draw in a warm, moist body of water traveling inland from the ocean. On your diagram, draw in what happens to this body of air as it moves inland. You should be able to predict where the land will be wet, and where it will be dry. This is called the rain shadow effect. So, as a rule, you should expect to find ___________areas on the windward side of coastal mountains, and ____________ areas on the leeward side of coastal mountains. Although there are many forces that change the landscape in Southern California (not the least of which is human building), one of the most important is fire. Fires are frequent here, and in fact, many species are specifically adapted to deal well with fire. Before you begin the next project, review the concept of succession, which is the process by which a community recovers after a disturbance. Will a fire in chaparral lead to primary or secondary succession? What is the difference between the two?

In order to understand how this ecosystem will respond to a fire, you must understand both succession and the chaparral biome. Make sure that you are comfortable with both before proceeding. Make a list of the characteristics of pioneer species (not the a list of the species) you would expect early in succession after a fire. You should demonstrate both your knowledge of pioneer species (in general) and of chaparral species (specifically). Think about things like life span, reproductive rate, niche breadth, ranges of tolerance, etc. Now make a list of the characteristics of the climax species you would expect to find 25 years after a fire. One of the things that will change over succession is the amount of nutrient cycling taking place. There are 5 important cycles: N, H2O, C, P, S. For each of the five cycles, pick one organism, and one non-living substance where the nutrient can be found. 1) For the living organism, state how the nutrient is used in the organism. 2) Discuss how the nutrient transfers from the living organism to the non-living object, or visa versa.

Nutrient________ Organism_____________ 1) Non-living substance___________


Nutrient________ Organism_____________ 1) Non-living substance___________


Nutrient________ Organism_____________ 1) Non-living substance___________


Nutrient________ Organism_____________ 1) Non-living substance___________


Nutrient________ Organism_____________ 1) Non-living substance___________


Which cycle do you expect to be most disrupted after a fire? Support your answer.

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