The plants used in this experiment are called Wisconsin fast plants, due to their extremely short life cycle. In just 40 days, the plants germinate, grow, flower, and die, which makes them convenient to study in classroom experiments. They are members of the crucifer family and are related to other plants like broccoli and cabbage. In this experiment, 8 fast plant seeds were planted in a self-constructed bottle-growing system, and they were left to grow for 7-14 days. The Net Primary Productivity, or the amount of energy captured and stored by the fast plants, was calculated along with the flow of energy from the plants to cabbage white butterflies. These organisms are members of the Pieris Rapae family, and they feed on fast plants. The goal of this experiment is to observe the flow of energy in an ecosystem as it is transferred from the producers (Wisconsin fast plants), to primary consumers (butterfly larvae). This energy was kept track of by making sure all energy gained and lost by each organism was measured.
* Cabbage white butterflies are an evasive species, and therefore they should not be released back into the wild. At the end of the experiment, euthanize them by putting them in the freezer. * Maintain cleanliness throughout the experiment to minimize effects on data due to disease. * Before starting another generation of plants or butterflies, be sure to clean all culturing chambers thoroughly. * Make sure to keep all lighting and liquids used in the experiment separate.
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