Although it is general, Farb (1963) describes ecology as a concept that focuses on the relationship between living organisms and their environment. It is crucial to acknowledge that this environment comprises of both the biotic and non-biotic factors affecting organisms.
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This concept develops another aspect of ecosystem that is defined as self-sustaining systems of biological communities. These communities found within a common locale interact with physical and chemical factors in the ecosystems.
However, the chemical and physical factors fluctuate according to the prevailing conditions that can be triggered by humans among other factors.
These fluctuations causing drastic interference with the ecosystem must be controlled to restore the aspect of a self-sustaining system (Dickinson & Murphy, 2007). This implies that living organisms must respond to the changes that are imposed on them. As a result, this paper will focus on how organisms respond to environmental changes.
The introduction part has stated that ecosystems experience changes in terms of physical and chemical factors (Brennan & Withgott, 2010). However, the elements of these changes can be triggered by the environment resulting in environmental change. Instead of focusing on general change impacting on an ecosystem, we will describe the environmental change that is caused by environmental factors like climate.
Essentially, changes caused by environmental factors are more important than other changes because they occur in a manner that is not controlled by human factors. For example, the volcanic eruption in Iceland was not controlled by human beings. Also, the volcano could not be stopped by the human factors that prevailed around the area. This means that the change in the ecosystem, which comprises human beings, could not be evaded.
As a result, the people moved from the affected area and closed all human activities like airports. Most of the air flights were canceled as a result of the disruption that was caused by the volcanic eruption. This cancellation is a perfect example of an ecosystem responding to environmental change to restore the original sustainability.
In another example, BP oil spilled in river Mississippi polluting the entire ecosystem due to the insufficient oxygen level in the water (Landau, 2011). Some living organisms, which can swim in water including fish and frogs, moved away from the polluted part of the river resulting in a dead zone. This implies that living organisms found in an ecosystem respond to environmental change to restore the aspect of a self-sustaining system.
It is, therefore, necessary to conduct an experimental activity that could be conducted in a laboratory under regulations to determine the responses. The experimental determination will provide the basis of making broader inferences.
Goals of the Topic
The goals of this topic refer to the lessons that students should learn after handling this topic. From a general point of view, the goal of this laboratory activity is familiarizing the students with the practical part of environmental science. In this case, the practical application of theories enables students to experience the real situation found in the environment (Douglas, 1925).
The experience obtained by observing the real environmental situation enables students to approach issues from a realistic point of view rather than an ideal perspective. As a result, the students become all rounded, unlike their counterparts who might have learned theories alone (Douglas, 1925).
Previous researches have shown that a student cannot execute a theory in the field without practicing it in class. It, therefore, implies that the laboratory activity will equip a student with the necessary courage enabling them to tackle practical issues (Douglas, 1925).
Secondly, this activity aims at helping the students to determine whether an ecosystem responds to environmental changes. This will help to understand that they cause changes in the environment and lead to the ecosystem’s responses that can affect them positively or negatively.
This will form the basis of advising the student about the changes they should induce in the environment to obtain positive responses. On the contrary, it will teach students that they should avoid negative inductions to prevent negative implications to the ecosystems surrounding them. This implies that the activity will provide a rationale for environmental conservation improving the standards of the environment.
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Also, the experiment is designed to strengthen the theoretical opinions that explain the ideology of the ecosystem’s responses. In this case, the introduction has provided a theoretical opinion about the responses of ecosystems. The theories are not effective without a practical experience that demonstrates the validity of the theories. It implies that the experiment will confirm the validity of the theories learned in class and strengthen them.
Also, the activity aims at providing an opportunity that helps a student to acquire skills such as observation, recording, interpretation, and answering questions among others. The skills help students to improve their class performance due to the improvement of diligence. For example, there could be a question at the end of the laboratory activity to test observance and ability to answer questions.
The quiz will be revised in class to guide the students about the art of answering questions. After the activity, the skills that have been attained by the students could be used during the entire class work enabling them to adopt best practices in their studies.
In light of this activity, the students will experiment to demonstrate the responses that take place in an ecosystem. The experiment directed by the teacher before starting the activity will involve aquatic worms that have been subjected to regulated conditions. These conditions are regulated in a manner reflecting the real ecosystem that they live.
- Water at 25 degree Celsius
- Aquatic worms in a beaker of water
- Heating Stove
- Glass basin
- String rod
- Put a half basin of water at room temperature of 25 degrees Celsius into a basin.
- Take the aquatic worms immersed in a beaker of water and keep them into the basin so that they enter into the basin’s water gradually.
- Using a stirring rod, stir the basin’s water gently while observing the distribution of the worms.
- Add some ice cubes into the water and wait for them to melt down. Observe the distribution of the worms after fifteen, thirty and forty-five minutes.
- Using the heating stove and a beaker, heat some water up to about 60 degrees Celsius. Take some water and add to the basin’s water containing the aquatic worms. Observe the distribution of the worms after fifteen, thirty and forty-five minutes.
- Heat several beakers containing water to 100 degree Celsius and add it to the system of worms. Observe the worms’ response at this temperature.
1. After observing the various responses during the activity, complete the following table. Record the observed responses and do not attempt to include theoretical opinions to match the outcomes with the theories.
|Temperature||After fifteen minutes.||After thirty minutes.||After forty-five minutes.|
2. Explain the observations that are obtained in the above table. Each of the observations should be attributed to a valid reason that maps into a theoretical perspective.
3. In the first procedure, the worms are immersed in water at 25 degree Celsius. Why is it necessary to maintain the initial temperature at 25 degrees Celsius? Otherwise, what are the dangers of lowering or increasing the temperatures more than twenty-five degrees?
4. The experiment uses aquatic worms that are close relatives to the earth worm in the entire experiment. Why is it necessary to use the aquatic worms rather than earthworms? What would be the possible defects that would be related to the use of earthworms in the experiment?
5. The experiment instructs the student to use ice cubes in the procedure. What is the rationale of immersing ice cubes in the basin’s water? What else can be used rather than ice cubes to achieve similar results?
6. Why do we add water heated up to 60 degree Celsius in the fifth step of the experiment?
7. In the last step, the experiment directs the learner to add water that is heated up to 100 degrees Celsius. Why is it important to include such an extreme temperature? What is peculiar about the observations that are made in the last step?
8. Lastly, the experiment allows the learner to record observations after fifteen minutes. Why is it important to make observations after this interval? Do you think the interval is sufficient to satisfy its intended function?
|Temperature||After fifteen minutes.||After thirty minutes.||After forty-five minutes.|
|At 25 degrees Celsius||After fifteen minutes, the worms were uniformly distributed in the system.||After thirty minutes, the worms were still uniformly distributed in the system.||After forty minutes, the worms were moving freely in the system in a uniform distribution|
|After introducing ice cubes||For the first fifteen minutes, the worms were uniformly distributed with the same rate of movement||The worms started reducing their movements and moved towards each other||The worms stopped their movement and coalesced into a small group. Also, they intertwined each other.|
|At 40 degree Celsius||They maintained the intertwined position.||The intertwined position was destroyed, and they started swimming||They moved very fast in the system|
|At 100 degree Celsius||All the worms settled at the bottom without movement|
2. Originally, the worms were immersed in water at room temperature. This temperature was similar to the natural ecosystem that portrays a uniform distribution of the worms. When the ice cubes were immersed in water, it lowered the temperature of the water, reduced their movement and intertwined with each other. When the hot water was added to the system, the temperature increased to 40 degrees Celsius leading to fast movements of the worms. However, a 100 degree Celsius leads to the death of all the worms since it is too hot to sustain life.
3. The original water is maintained at 25 degree Celsius since it reflects the natural ecosystem that exists at that room temperature. Lowering or increasing the temperature would not reflect the condition experienced in the natural ecosystem (Robson, 2001).
4. In this experiment, aquatic worms were used because they live in a medium that can be manipulated easily in terms of changing the temperature. Using earthworms would not provide any results since the worms cannot live in water.
5. Ice cubes were used to reduce the temperature of the system. Cold water that is colder than the system’s water could be used to achieve similar results.
6. In the fifth step, we add water to increase the temperature of the system and observe.
7. The water was heated to 100 degree Celsius to portray the effect of extreme conditions on an ecosystem.
8. The fifteen minutes are enough to facilitate response by function due to changes in temperature.
Analysis and Conclusion
It is observed that the worms respond to changes in temperature by increasing or reducing movement. When temperature reduces, the worms stop and intertwine with others to reduce their surface area to volume ratio enabling them to retain heat (Richardson, 2009). The retention of heat ensures that the system is self-sustainable despite the changes in temperature. As a result, the experiment has shown that an ecosystem responds to changes in temperature to achieve self-sustainability.
Brennan, S. R., & Withgott, J. (2010). The science behind the stories. San Francisco: Addison-Wesley. (Original work published 4th)
Dickinson, G., & Murphy, K. J. (2007). Ecosystems (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.
Douglas, N. (1925). Experiments,. New York: R.M. McBride & Co.
Farb, P. (1963). Ecology,. New York: Time, inc.
Landau, E. (2011). Oil spill!: disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press.
Richardson, G. (2009). Ecosystems. New York, NY: Weigl Publishers.
Robson, P. (2001). Ecosystems. Brookfield, Conn.: Copper Beech Books.