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DESIGN AN ECOSYSTEM

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  1. DESIGN AN ECOSYSTEM You are to create several species in a unique ecosystem. You will describe your species' niche as well as their reproductive habits. You will then add a disturbance and identify the effect of the disturbance on the species in your ecosystem.

  2. Hints: 1. Keep it simple. 2. Look ahead. Consider the conditions associated with species endangerment while you plan your ecosystem. That way your EIR will be more interesting.

  3. Method:1. Your mission is to design and artistically depict an ecosystem.2. Here are some hints: A. Location: Your ecosystem may be anywhere, including other planets! B. Biological community: Imaginary organisms are very welcome. Include at least one species of each of these:i. Producers ii. Primary consumers iii. Secondary and higher level consumers iv. Decomposers For each species be sure to include its: i. range ii. population size iii. reproductive behavior (mating rituals, fertilization method, number of offspring, care of offspring, etc.) iv. a. nutritional requirements, if an animal, or soil and water requirements, if a plant position in food web v. sensitivity to environmental insults vi. any known usefulness/attractiveness to humans C. Physical components: Your species must be appropriate for their physical environment. Be sure to consider:i. Climate: temperature, seasons, humidity and precipitation ii. Surface conditions: soil minerals, soil texture, water, grade (slope)

  4. 3. Now that you have created a beautiful ecosystem, add a disturbance. Your disturbance may be spontaneous or man-made; intentional or unintentional, or a combination of these. You are not limited to the following: A. Climate change: warming, cooling, change in water availability. B. Direct human interference: hunting/harvesting, land clearing, pesticides/herbicides, introduction of a foreign species, etc.

  5. 4. Identify the effect of the disturbance on the species in your ecosystem. Use the list below to help you make the following declarations: A. Extinct: Species which are completely decimated. B. Endangered: Species which are in imminent danger of extinction. C. Threatened: Species which are at significant risk of becoming endangered but are not in immediate danger of becoming extinct. D. No expected change: Species with moderate to large populations, whose numbers are expected to remain stable. E. Increased: Species whose populations increase. May be potential pests.

  6. Conditions Associated with Species Endangerment 1. Limited Range : Species is found in only a small, specific area. 2. Small Population or Rarity : Species is rare within its range. High level consumers are usually rare. Other species may also have small populations. 3. High Specificity : Species has very specific requirements for:food (e.g. Pandas only eat bamboo; animals which eat only one type of food, or a few specific foods, are prone to extinction if the food supply disappears.); reproduction (e.g. Spotted Owls only nest in old coniferous tree hollows, rabbit fleas use female rabbit reproductive hormones and don't make their own); habitat (e.g. there are fungi which are found only in gopher tortoise burrows); etc. 4. High Sensitivity : Species is extremely vulnerable to environmental disturbances. Examples include: Birds are very sensitive to DDT and related pesticides which cause thinning of their eggshells. Compare birds with cockroaches, which are not very sensitive.Some plants have very specific requirements for light; too much or too little sunshine will kill them. 5. Low Fecundity: Species produces few offspring. Note: species which care for their young either before birth (long pregnancy) and/or afterwards have fewer offspring than those who do not. 6. High Human Value: Species has characteristics that make it valuable to humans. Many animals have been hunted to endangerment, or even extinction, for their beautiful plumage or fur. Wild plants and fungi may also be over-harvested if they are particularly tasty or contain useful medicine.

  7. SAMPLE ECOSYSTEM: The Heart of North Carolina

  8. PRODUCER: Eastern Rocket Lilies i. range: many reservoirs such as Jordan Lakeii. pop size: largeiii. reproduction: flowering plant pollinated by mead bees; flowers in early summeriv. nutrition: a. autotrophb. eaten by: Lions (leaves), Mead Bees (nectar), Stallions (immature fruit) v. sensitivity: the more minerals in the water the better, needs full sunlightvi. humans use: artificial poi & glue (roots), fibers for fabric (stems), snack food (seeds), decoration (flowers), roofing material (leaves)vii. climate: cool winters with foggy mornings, warm and sunny summersviii. surface: lives in water

  9. 1 CONSUMER: Mead Bee i. range: many reservoirs such as Jordan Lakeii. pop size: smalliii. reproduction: a single queen lays many eggs which are tended by her daughtersiv. nutrition: a. eats nectar and pollen of the Eastern Rocket Lilies b. eaten by some birdsv. sensitivity: low sensitivity, but only one food sourcevi. humans use: often considered a pestvii. climate: active during warm months, hibernates in winterviii. surface: flying insect: hives on land, food flower floats on surface of water

  10. 1 CONSUMER: Stallions i. range: many reservoirs such as Jordan Lakeii. pop size: moderateiii. reproduction: following a mating ritual in clear water the females lay eggs & the males fertilize the eggs externally, males guard nest until eggs hatch, babies receive no care nor assistanceiv. nutrition: a. Eastern Rocket Lilies & other plant roots b. are eaten by Pride Lions who like them better than Lilies but not as much as mead. v. sensitivity: eggs are sensitive to chemical pollutants, adults are pretty toughvi. humans use: sport and food fishvii. climate: any temp above freezing & below 50 Cviii. surface: lives in water

  11. 1 CONSUMER/2 CONSUMER: Pride Lions i. range: West Sanfordii. pop size: many 1000siii. reproduction: life-long pair bonds, internal fertilization, low birth rate, extensive care of youngiv. nutrition:a. Go Fish, mead, lilies, stallions, rockets & broccoli b. top level predator v. sensitivity: low chemical sensitivity, sudden temperature change can harm themvi. humans use: extremely attractive exotic petsvii. climate: warm and sunny weather with plenty of waterviii. surface: amphibious

  12. 1 CONSUMER/DECOMPOSER: Yeast Beast i. range: very limited, only in Mead Bee hivesii. pop size: moderate in hives, zero elsewhereiii. reproduction: high fecundity: usually asexual buddingiv. nutrition: a. eats nectar and pollen brought to hive by bee excretes mead b. Lions drink mead. Lions really like that meadv. sensitivity: low sensitivity to chemicalsvi. humans use: no known usevii. climate: warm & moist viii. surface: live in hive which protects them from climate extremes

  13. DECOMPOSER: Ship Worm i. range: many reservoirs such as Jordan Lakeii. pop size: largeiii. reproduction: hermaphroditic, lay many eggs, external fertilization, no care of youngiv. nutrition: a. eats dead organic matter b. eats anything & everything, once it's died v. sensitivity: low sensitivity to chemicals, light, temp or salinity changevi. humans use: no known use, humans think they are uglyvii. climate: any temperature above freezingviii. surface: lives in water

  14. SAMPLE EIR ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE: A gravid (pregnant) Buckeye squirrel is inadvertently introduced into the valley. The Buckeye squirrel eats immature Eastern Rocket lily fruit. Worse yet are its reproductive habits. It parasitizes hymenopterans by stinging them into paralysis and laying a single egg in the abdomen of each insect. The squirrel larva then feeds upon its host from the inside out! Needless to say, this is an experience which a Mead Bee does not survive.

  15. IMPACT ON SPECIES: Extinct : At this time it is not possible to tell whether any of these organisms would actually go extinct. However endangerment, by definition, means that a species might go extinct in the near future.Endangered: Mead Bee: Bees are being massacred by the Buckeye squirrel, a newly introduced species.Yeast Beast: Yeast Beasts are totally dependent on Mead Bees. If the Mead Bee dies out, so will the Yeast Beast.Eastern Rocket Lily: Not only do squirrels eat their fruit before their seeds have formed, they also parasitize the Lily's only pollinator. The Lily may not be able to reproduce in the presence of the squirrel. Finally, human predation may also contribute to their demise.Threatened:Pride Lions: The Lions could loose three important food sources: Lilies, Stallions, and mead. Fortunately, Lions have other food sources available to them.Stallions: Stallions would lose a major food source. Also Lions may predate more heavily upon the fish since the Lions no longer have Lilies and mead.No Change : Ship Worm: One way or the other, there will be plenty of dead for the Ship Worm to eat. Increased:Buckeye Squirrels: Since the valley is full of food (Lilies) and reproductive opportunities (Bees), squirrels may increase in population. Contributing to their increase is the lack of natural predators such as Leaping Lizards which eat them.

  16. MITIGATION :Prevent entry of the Buckeye Squirrel:Prevent, or at least delay entry, of this dreaded pest. Recommended practices include: Do not import, or import only after quarantine, agricultural products, such as aquarium and pond plants, which may be infested with the Lily Weevil. While this idea is sound, it may be difficult to carry out. Backyard pond enthusiasts may not understand the need for not smuggling various exotic plants which they would like to grow at home.Population control for the Buckeye squirrels:If entry cannot be prevented, methods of limiting squirrel population must be explored. For example:Pesticides: Some pesticides kill buckeye squirrels effectively; but others are no longer effective since the squirrels has evolved resistance to them. Also, the same pesticides that kill squirrels, kills Mead Bees. This solution has only limited viability.Introduction of Weevil predator: A population of Leaping Lizards could be introduced to the valley. Lizards would keep the squirrel population low. They would not completely eradicate the squirrels. Prior to their introduction, extensive research is recommended as it is not known what other organisms would be effected by the Lizards. For example: would Leaping Lizards eat Mead Bees; out compete the local Friendly Frog for insect food; or in some other way become a pest?