User:Alex Haines-Leblanc/Notebook/Biology 210 at AU

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2/19/2014 Vertebrates Purpose: To understand the importance of the vertebrates in our transect and to examine them in order to develop an idea of how complex systems evolve.

Materials and Methods: We used a compound microscope to examine the vertebrates we found in our transect. We used our Biology textbook to determine the type of vertebrate we were examining. We observed our transect at approximately 3 pm on a day with an average temperature of 29 degrees Fahrenheit.

Data and Observations: We created a food web about the vertebrates found in our transect File:Screen shot 2015-02-19 at 1.11.58 PM As you can see, we observed five vertebrates in our transect: squirrels, rats, robins, chipmunks, and sparrows. We did some research in our textbook and determined what each vertebrate's diet would consist of, given what we observed in our transect. We then created a table to classify each vertebrate by phylum, class, order, family and genus. Many of the vertebrates feed off of the same biotic components of the transect; for example, chipmunks, squirrels, and sparrows all feed off of the seeds found in our transect. The University of Michigan's Website defines an ecosystem as a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. To get more specific, they define a community as the interacting organisms within the ecosystem. This food web illustrates the community found within the greater ecosystem that is our transect. Interactions such as competition for resources, like the seeds and other biotic components of the transect, are what makes this group of vertebrates into a community.

Some of the vertebrates we identified had multiple biotic aspects of our transect that they could consume for sustenance. For example, a squirrel can eat tree bark and seeds, where as a robin would only eat an earth worm. The abiotic aspects of the transect could be beneficial too. The decaying matter found in the soil of our transect, such as the dead leaves that we collected during our lab period, would be beneficial to rats because they are scavengers. According to the National Institutes of Health, rats are capable of feeding off of a variety of biotic and abiotic options such as meats or plant matter, dead or alive. However some abiotic aspects of our transect provide little for the vertebrates, such as the bench which could be a makeshift habitat. But the trees, which are a biotic component, could act as food or shelter.

Conclusion: Some resources are of more use than others. In transect three, the seeds act as a source of food for three different vertebrates, but tree bark is only a food source for one vertebrate. Trees and bushes will provide both sustenance and a habitat, but a bench or lamppost is a temporary habitat at best. The majority of our vertebrates consume the biotic components of our transect, thus making those more important for the survival of the ecosystem. Rats, as scavengers, benefit from the decaying organic matter in a way that none of our other identified vertebrates do. They can use the abundance of decaying leaves as food or as a habitat. Each of the vertebrates we identified are a part of the community that has been established within transect three. Most of the animals found in this community are primary consumers, this means that they are herbivores, and that they food off of photosynthesizing plants. The squirrels, chipmunks, sparrows and rats are all primary consumers. However, rats are also scavengers, so they have a wide variety of resources to feed off of. All of our vertebrates come from only two different orders. This shows that even though these organisms may look vastly different, they share many characteristics, such as dietary habits and habitat.

University of Michigan: Ecological Communities NIH Rat Information


2/11/2015 Plantae and Fungi

The purpose of the plantae and fungi lab was to understand the diversity of the plant life in our transect through observation. We also learned about the importance and function of fungi.

Materials: Ziploc Bags Berlese Funnel 50:50 Ethanol Water Solution 50 mL conical tube Tape Screen Parafilm Light Fixture

At the beginning of this lab, we collected leaf litter from our transect in one bag, and collected live plant life in another. We took our leaf litter from two different locations, however our live plant samples were from five different locations within the transect. The leaf litter consisted of almost entirely dead leaves, with some topsoil and twigs mixed in. We did not find any mold in our transect, however we did find one example of a fungus--fungi sporangia. This type of fungi reproduces by way of spores. All of our other biotic samples appeared to be dicot gymnosperms, because they were all leaves from either a tree or a bush. We observed two types of fungi in prepared slides. The first was Agaricus bisporus, which is a mushroom commonly known as the "button mushroom". It is the most commonly consumed mushroom in the world. It comes from the phylum basidiomycota and the class agaricomycetes (University of Wisconsin). The second was black bread mold or Rhizopus stolonifer, which also has sporangia. Black Bread mold reproduces via asexual spores (

In the next lab, we will collect invertebrates using the Berlese Funnel Method. This will allow us to adequately make conclusions about the diversity of the life within our transect. The changing seasons will allow us a more inclusive view on the variability of life within our transect.

Works Cited