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 vsrious 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 3. Understanding the functioning of the ecosystem
As a group, visit four different types of ecosystems found in the vicinity of the UPLB Campus, namely agro ecosystem (rice, corn, vegetables), grassland (tropical, pasture), freshwater (stream), and forest ecosystems. For each ecosystem, study the different components comprising it by first locating a 10x10m area to observe. Fill up Table 1 and 2 by following the procedure below: A. Autotophic 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?
B. Heterotrophic organisms
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...
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