Key Factors in an Ecosystem that Contributes to the Development of Microclimates

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  • Topic: Wind, Humus, Soil
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Name:Wayde “Tucker” Retherford (group A)
Lab Section: L229 TUBB
Title of Lab: Microclimate
Date of Lab: October 16, 2012

Location of the lab: 2 km north of the U.S. Hwy. 231 and George Wallace Ave. intersection, 6.1 km east of the intersection at George Wallace Ave. and Elm St., located 1.1 km south on Clayhill Rd. Location A: North 31° 47’ 20.35” West 85° 52’ 53.71” Elevation at 0.151km Location B: North 31° 47’ 20.78” West 85° 52’ 49.69” Elevation at 0.145km

Physical conditions: Partly cloudy with an average temperature of 23°C, 31% humidity, and wind from the north at 12 km/h (The Weather Channel). The areas of study consisted of various deciduous woody vegetation, ranging from grasses, shrubs and trees, consistent with the growing conditions of the southeastern United States’ temperate climate.

The purpose of this experiment was to identify key factors in an ecosystem that contribute to the development of microclimates. The proper testing of those factors and understanding of the data helped to convey the importance of the interplay between the biological, chemical, and physical aspects of the environment and the roles they play in shaping the various microclimates.

The materials needed for the experiment included a thermometer, a soil thermometer, a Davis Wind Wizard, an Extech Instruments light meter, an aluminum can or cylinder, a Hellidge-Truog soil reaction tester, a Kelway soil tester, a compass, and a ruler. Temperature was taken at 1.8 m above the ground and at ground level with the thermometer at two locations. The average of the temperatures between the two locations and two heights yielded the temperatures recorded as 1.8 m above the ground and at ground level. The soil thermometer was used to measure soil temperature at two locations. The two temperatures were then averaged to yield the soil temperature. The Davis Wind Wizard was used in random locations to gather the average wind speed of the area studied, and the average light penetration was measured with the Extech Instruments light meter. The infiltration rate of water was then measured by using an aluminum can, or just a simple cylinder. The can was placed firmly into the soil and water was poured in; the time it took for the soil to absorb all standing water from within the can was recorded as the infiltration rate of water. Using the Kelway soil tester, the percent saturation of soil was obtained in a random location at the site of study. By following the procedures provided with the Hellidge-Truog soil reaction tester, the pH of soil was obtained. Using the compass, the direction of the land’s slope was measured and an estimate of that slope’s angle was recorded. The ruler was used to measure the depth of leaf litter covering the ground at 6 random locations; the resulting measurements were averaged to obtain the sample area’s depth of leaf litter and humus. Each of the experiments described were implemented in two locations, a top site and a bottom site, both of which had differences in microclimate conditions and elevation. The characteristic vegetation of the two locations were observed and recorded alongside the data gathered (Troy University 2012).

The top site of study was an open area with sparse grasses, sandy soil, and shrub-like woody vegetation, offering little to no canopy cover. The area surrounding the site consisted of mixed pines and other temperate deciduous trees consistent with the growing conditions of the southeastern U.S. At the top site, the two measured temperatures at 1.8 meters high averaged to be 25.8°C, the surface temperatures were averaged to be 24.5°C, and the soil temperatures averaged to be 19.5°C (Figure 1). The wind, which could have been described as calm, was consistently measured as being 0 km/h. With little canopy cover, the average light intensity was measured at 25,100 Lux. The percent saturation of the soil was measured to be 0%, while the...
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