Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pictures

Control Flask





Experimental Flask

Journal Entry #3 for ecoflasks:

Synopsis of current ecoflask status:

Our group was unfortunately discouraged by the results of our ecoflask the last time we had a journal entry, but with some radical but necessary changes (like removing the murky water and replacing it with fresh, clean water, adding elodea and duckweed, and introducing our organisms into the ecoflasks.), we have been observing increased success with the maintenance of homeostasis in our ecoflask. We believe that our flasks are balancing out, and the organisms are doing their jobs (eating the decayed plant life) as well as the plants (providing nutrients to the organisms).

Description of Control Flask:

This is a healthy looking ecoflask. The water is really clear; we credit the snails and organisms for keeping the water clean. There is a decent amount of duckweed at the top (there is slightly less duckweed residing in the experimental flask as there is in the control flask). There is not as much as we started though, and our group is currently deciding whether or not we should introduce a small amount more into each flask in the future, so each has enough decayed plant life for the organisms to consume. The control flask also supports a thriving elodea plant, which is tall, thick, green, and has sprouted a couple more “branches” from the main plant. This is a good sign, and tells us that our flaks is getting enough sunlight and nutrients to grow, and it is providing food for the organisms. The level of wolfia currently residing in the flask is not high, but there is wolfia nonetheless. We think the wolfia level decreased because that was one of our initial plants in the ecoflask, and when the flask failed, we never replenished our wolfia supply (we thought we did not need to because we were adding a few more types of plants). We figure also the slight decrease in growth of wolfia is a result its competition for sunlight with the duckweed.
Our organisms are doing well in the flask as well. The snail is healthy, and is always eating the decayed plants and any algae. If you look close, you can see some of the hydras, and we also have lots of daphnia, but it’s a little harder to see. If you look closely though, you can see the hydras swimming, which is a good sign. This tells us that the current water and conditions are good for the hydras, so we will use this information in the future to plan anything we need to do if a problem arises.
The pH for the control flask was 8.01. We are not that happy with this level because we think it is a little too basic to support life in an ecosystem, but apparently, it’s still okay. We figured the control would be doing a little worse than the experimental because the experimental variable (coral gravel) was supposed to act as a buffer for the pH of the water. We hope we can later make changes that will create a more desireable pH level in the water.
The dissolved oxygen in the control flask was 3.3. This again was not the best reading, but it is better than our previous reading. We hope in the future we can raise this level to around 5 (this would be a good amount of oxygen in the water), but for now, 3.3 is a decent reading because our flask is doing fine.

Description of Experimental Flask:

Our experimental flask is also doing well. Although the elodea is slightly less colored in some parts (we believe these parts are going to decay soon), there is still enough of lively, green elodea to survive. Hopefully it can survive and eventually grow more. We think the reason why this elodea is not growing AS well as the control’s elodea could be that it is not getting enough sunlight, or maybe the level of pH is not a desirable level for it. If it is determined that the pH level is bad, or there is not enough oxygen in the water, then we will make the necessary changes to develop a healthy living environment for the plants.
Like I said before in my description of the control flask, there is slightly less duckweed in this flask than there is in the control flask. We are not sure why, but we hypothesize that the floating plants compete for the sunlight, and maybe in this flaks, duckweed is not winning. We really can’t fix this problem if that is the case, but we decided to wait it out and see what happens. If the duckweed does out, we will either introduce more into the flaks or leave it out entirely.
Most of the other factors in our experimental flask are doing well. The water is clean, thanks to our organisms, and speaking of organisms, if you look close, oyu can see our hydras swimming around, a sure sign that our flask is doing well, and is at a good balance to sustain life. There is still a mysterious orange paste on the bottom of our flask, between the soil and sand. We hypothesize that this is a mix of soil, sand, and decayed plants. We hope that this could be used as food for our organisms, because if it could, there would be lots more food in the flask, and this would help the organisms grow and live healthily.
The pH test was 7.59, .42 closer to balanced water than the control flask. We are pretty sure that this is a result of our experimental variable, coral gravel, which acts as a buffer for the pH level. We are very pleased with the current pH level, and we hope it stays around 7.5. The dissolved oxygen was at 3.3, the same as our control flask. We would like to have more oxygen in the water for the organisms. Even though it is a little low, we still believe that 3.3 is a decent level, because the flask is doing well now. We hope to see a raise in dissolved oxygen level in the near future though.

Exciting occurrences:
We were very excited when we caught sight of baby snails in our flasks! We believe that there are about four snails in the control flask and two in the experimental. We did not think we would have a second generation of snails in our flasks because we only put one snail on each flask, which is why this event is so shocking. I personally believe that there were either snail eggs attached to some of the plants we put in, possibly the elodea, or there were already snails on the plants that were too tiny to be spotted by the naked eye. The rest of my group also thinks it is possible that the snails we put in were already pregnant, and they brought the snails into the flasks. One of them is pretty big too (about ¾ cm). This could be good, and might help keep the water clean the water and manage the decayed plants in the future, but it could also be bad. It is possible that the snails will all grow pretty big and consume more than they should. They might end up eating everything, and will ultimately destroy the delicate balance in the ecosystems. We do not know what will happen, so all we can do is wait and see.
We are also excited with the amount of hydra present in each of the flasks. We had not predicted that they would have such rapid growth. This also could be good, because they could eat all of the dead organisms, decayed plants, and anything else that makes the water dirty. But, this also could have damaging affects. They could grow to be too aggressive and eat too much, and this would throw off the balance in the flasks. All we can do is wait and see.

Problems to be solved:
One thing we want to fix is the amount of oxygen in each flask. We would like to have more than a 3.3 for the oxygen test, because the organisms need lots of oxygen to survive. We plan to possibly introduce more elodea, more duckweed, or more wolfia. Having increased plant life in the flasks will provide more oxygen, and the organisms will be able to thrive with more oxygen.
We would like to have a better pH level in the control flask, but we are not going to do anything about it, because we need to see if the experimental variable (coral gravel) really does help buffer the pH levels in the flasks. Not doing anything to the control flask will tell us if the coral gravel is truly keeping the pH in the water at a decent level or not.
We also would like to have more wolfia or duckweed in the flasks. We believe that floating types pf plants are very useful because they stay out of the way but provide oxygen. We might introduce a little bit more of either wolfia or duckweed into each of the flasks.

Unanswered Questions:
1. Why did different amounts of duckweed and wolfia survive in the ecoflasks? Is the surviving number significant, or did it just happen that way for no reason?
2. How did the snails appear? Will this be a benefit in the future or a problem?
3. Is the fact that the wolfia are growing so fast a bad thing?
4. Why did the elodea in the experimental flask decay more?
5. Why did the oxygen levels go down? Is it a result of fast growth of the organisms?
6. What can we do to provide sufficient oxygen in the water?


Table for pH and dissolved oxygen tests for 4/3/06:

Control Experimental

pH 8.01 7.59

Dissolved oxygen 3.3 3.3

Thursday, February 16, 2006

pictures

Experimental "before"- 1/30/06



Control "before"- 1/30/06



Experimental "after"- 2/10/06



Experimental "after"- 2/10/06

2nd entry:

1. Many changes occurred in our flasks. The water was murky, and the plants decayed. Our wolfia was only about 40% still green and alive. Now, much of it decayed, and there is some of it floating around. Also, some mixed with the soil and now formed a dirty, slimy substance on the ground. Our azolla plant, though still standing, is lifeless, colorless, and transparent. WE made drastic changes on feb. 3. First, we dumped out all of our water, and the azolla fell out. Our wolfia still stayed in, although only about 10%. Then we added 25ml of pink aquarium grade gravel to each flask, in order to keep the water clean and fresh. Later, we added 575ml of water. The water stayed fresh and clear, thanks to the gravel. We added elodea, snails, daphnia, copepods, and hydra. This made our flask healthy looking. Although the layer of brown decayed wolfia stayed on the ground, our flask was filled with green plants, clear water, and a hope to survive.

2. We added two new producers to counter the death of our old ones. We added one elodea plant (Elodea canadensis) and about one half of a duckweed (Leonitis nepetifolioa) colony to each flask. These producers should provide nutrients for our organisms. We chose only one plant of elodea because it was big enough to provide lots on nutrients on its own. One half a colony was good for the duckweed because we still had a bit of wolfia left, and they are both floating plants. Then we added one pond snail (Austropeplea) to each flask. We never got our orb snails, so we used pond snails. Each eat similar things. The snails are large, and eat a lot, so we chose to add only one in each flask. The organisms (3ml in each flask) are as follows: Daphnia (Daphnia Genus), Hydra (Hydra Genus), and Copepods (Copepoda Order). 3 ml of each should be enough to eat all the decay and bacteria without getting too overgrown. Too many of them would result in overgrowth and death of our producers and end of our flasks, so we only added 3 ml of each. This smaller amount should help us achieve homeostasis.

3. The main abiotic change was our water. Originally, it was black and murky, which was not good in an ecoflask. This type of water could not support an ecosystem. We decided to dump out all of the water, and add 575ml of new, clear, fresh water. Also, we added pink aquarium gravel to each to keep the newly added water clean, fresh, and able to support an ecosystem.

4. One interesting change in our ecoflask was at the bottom. The decayed wolfia was origianlly floating around, clumping together with dirt. Now, it sunk and strangely, blended with the soil. Our group hopes that this new layer on the bottom of our flasks will provide nutrients to our plants and organisms, and help maintain homeostasis in our flasks.

5. The ph results were as follows: 7.41 for experimental and 7.23 for control. This is an acceptable range, because the healthy range is slightly above 7, and no more than 8.5. The experimental flask is higher because it had coral gravel ,which was supposed to help maintain a good ph level in the water. These results pleased our group, and they were a good sign that our techniques for maintaining the ph levels were working. Our Dissolved oxygen results were not as pleasing: 1.86 for experimental and 2.46 for the control. The healthy level is around 4-5, so our results were bad. The decay of our azolla and wolfia probably caused our oxygen levels to go down. Adding duckweed and elodea, we hope to raise our oxygen level. These two producers should produce enough oxygen in the water to maintain a healthy level for the plants and organisms. The only two tests we need right now are the ph and dissolved oxygen. The ph test is the most important because our experimental variable is based on it. We need to know if our experimental flask has a good ph level, and if it does, it will prove our hypothesis that coral gravel helps maintain a good ph level. It’s the most important thing we need to keep track of. Oxygen is needed badly by both producers and organisms, and that is why we will continue to use the dissolved oxygen test. The knowledge of whether or not we have enough oxygen can tell us what we are doing right, what we are doing wrong, what we should add, and what we should remove. We will keep using the dissolved oxygen test. Since our variable only deals with ph, we have nothing else to prove, so we will not be needing any other tests.

Tests- Data Tables


pH Test:

control
-7.54 1/19/06
-7.23 2/2/06

experimental
-7.58 1/19/06
-7.41 2/2/06


Dissolved Oxygen Test:

control
-6.1 1/19/06
-2.46 2/2/06

experimental
-10.5 1/19/06
-1.86 2/2/06

6. The two characteristics I picked were as follows: #4. is not frustrated in finding one or several plausible solutions regardless of the time involved,

and

#5. uses learned knowledge and theories but is not fully bound by them in facing new situations , i.e.can think outside the box

I chose #4 because during the addition of our organisms, our flask was bad. It had black water, had dead plants, and smelled terrible. Though we possesed little time, we decided to completely redo our flask. We used our time to put in new water, and everything. Also, we had to decide whether to go the easy way, and put in the same organisms as everybody else, or do it the harder way, the way we planned it, but possibly not make it in time. Even though the easy choice was there, we still decided to go the same route we had decided before, even though it would take more time.

I chose #5 because we did this many times. During the addition of our plants, we had decided to add azolla, because through our research, we thought that azolla would be the best choice for our flasks. On the day of the addition of producers, almost everyone else was using a different plant. WE started to think that they might be right, and we considered adding what they were going to add, but we did not. We used our old knowledge about our plant, and stuck to it. This difference of producers and organisms in our group shows that we think outside of the box, and dare to be different, and hope that we are right. That is a necessary quality in a scientist.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Questions for part C

1. Give a detailed qualitative analysis in narrative format (paragraphs) of changes that have occurred in your flasks sinceyour initial construction and the addition of producers. Write to give the reader a mental PICTURE of what’s going on in the flasks. What are the similarities and differences? Be sure to remind the reader about what constitutes your control and experimental groups.

2. Which two tests did you run? What were the results for each flask? Did they fall within acceptable ranges? If a test fell within range, give two reasons why you believe the test result was favorable. If not, give two posssible reasons describing why the test result was unfavorable.

3. Have any plant/producer deaths occurred? Give three hypotheses as to WHY using scientific reasoning.

4. Which consumer organisms (and how many) are you ordering to be added to the column? How is your order different from your original proposal? Why are the organisms that you are adding different in number or type from your proposal? What do you expect to happen upon addition of these organisms?

5. If you have any pictures, feel free to add those to this blog or create a separate blog for them.REMEMBER: Details, Details, Details! Be an observant, reflective scientist!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

C: First ecoflask journal entry


Experimental photo 1-30-06



Control Group photo 1-30-06


1. Unfortunately, our ecoflask can pretty much be considered as an initial failure. At the beginning of our construction, the flask looked decent. The water was somewhat clear, and the azolla was tall, thick, bright green, full of leaves, and healthy. The wolfia was also healthy, floating at top of the water, bright green and lively. The layers of sand, coral gravel (only in the experimental flask), rocks, and soil were not blended together. You could decipher which layer was which, and when each layer started and stopped. This bright, lively environment would eventually prove false, having drastic changes in color, complexion, clearness, and overall healthy look in the weeks to come.
When the time came to observe our flasks and record how they are diong, we were all a bit disappointed. The water transformed into a murky, brown slime (most likely a result of the soil added combined with the water being poured on top of it). Within the water, one can make out small floating clumps of white/brown dust like things. We think this is a result of some of the Wolfia dying, decaying, and clumping with the floating dirt and other decayed Wolfia. There is around 65% of the Wolfia remaining, and surprisingly some of the Wolfia still have the origional bright green color.
Our Azolla plants weren't so furtunate. They now stand lifeless in the dirty water, acting as a terrible reminder of the condition of the flasks. They have lost their bright green color and now are transparent. Beneath the lifeless Azolla, a small layer of thick brown guck has formed. It probably consists of decayed plant material mixed with dirt, and was too heavy to float.
Only a few observations are different for the flasks. In our experimental flask, a substance of unknown origin has formed. In between the barely distinguishable layers of the sand and the soil, a bizzare orange layer is forming. We currently don't know where this came from.
In our control group, there's a higher percentage of Wolfia alive (maybe 10% more). Our only guess as to why this happened it that the slightly lower ph in the flask provided a more accomodating environment for the Wolfia to live in.

2. We ran two tests for each flask: the ph test and the dissolved oxygen test.
A good, healthhy range of oxygen in water is anywhere above 4 on the scale. For the experimental flask we got 6.1, and for the control flask we got 10.5. These results were pleasing to our group because we knew that we at least had enough oxygen in the water. The main reason we think that the results were good was because we only had our plants in the flasks. They use oxygen, but not too much. If we had taken the tests with our organisms in, we probably would have gotten lower results because they need oxygen too, and there fore, there would be more things in need of oxygen in the flask. Also, the remaining Wolfia is producing oxygen, which helps a lot. We believe that the higher levels of oxygen in our experimental flask was because the coral gravel affected it (or caused the Wolfia th thrive more, ultimately resulting in more produced oxygen).
For the ph test, we got 7.58 for the experimental and 7.54 for the control. These results also exceed the healthy range (5.5-7.5). We suspect that the slightly basic results are a result of the addition of too much soil. The coral gravel in the experimental was higher most likely because of the coral gravel, and the affect it has on the ph of the water, although .04 higher ph isn't a huge difference (but it still can make a difference on the environment).

3. Each of our flasks contains death of our plants. There is only a decayed Azolla in each flask, and lots of dead Wolfia. We think that one of the reasons that the Azolla died was because it wasn't in the soil properly, and never took root. We thought it was rooted, but later saw that it was barely hanging on. This meant that it recieved less nutrients, and could not survive. Another reason why we think our plants died was becausse of lack of sunlight. There seemed to be excessive amounts of Wolfia, and we suspect that it blocked out the sun. Without the sun, the plants could not do photosyntheisi, a necessary process. Now that less Wolfia is blocking out the sun, we hope that it will make sun more available to the flask. The last conclusion we came to was that maybe the basic ph affected the plants. The ideal ph range is 5.5-7.5, and these flasks were on the basic side of it. Even a slight change in the ph could cause drastic changes to the plants.

4. We have decided to add four organisms: 1 Orb Snail, called Heliosoma Genus, per ecoflask, 3 mL of Water Fleas, called Daphnia Genus, per ecoflask, 3 mL of Hyrdras, called Hyrdra Genus, per ecoflask, and 3 mL of Copepods, called Copepoda Order, per ecoflask. We did make a few changes to our proposal. Seeing the poor results, ew decided to decrease the amounts of the organisms that we're adding. There are now less plants for them to feed off of, and there will be less decay produced. So, we are only adding one snail, instead of 2, and 3 ml of the other organisms, instead of 4 ml.
We plan to have better results after we add the organisms. We think that right away, the snails will eat any leftover decayed wolfia and azolla. Also, we expect that the hydras, water fleas, and copepods will clean out the dirty water by producing bacteria to clean it up, This should result in a cleaner flask. The Water fleas will then eat any excess bacteria. The guts of the copepods accelerate any flow of nutrients, and will help the other plants and organisms get some. This will be one of the main hlping factors in our flasks. Unfortunately, we predict that the dissolved oxygen level will drop, due to the addition of oxygen needing organisms. But we hope that the organisms will start a cycle that will bring back Wolfia, oxygen level, nutrient level, and an all-around healthy level of our flasks.


B: Everything that went into our ecoflask

We put our flask together november 10, 2005. In total, we added two plants in our flask. One of which was Wolfia, also known as Wolfia Genus. We came to the decision that we should use only 20 ml of Wolfia because the main characteristic that it's known for is that it reproduces fast, causing lots growth when it's alive and lots of decayed wolfia when it dies. The wolfia should be able to live well, because they reproduce fast, and they will provide food for the snails and other various creatures.
The other plant we decided to use was the Azolla Water Fern, also called Azolla Genus. In total we added 30 ml of Azolla, 10 ml more than the Wolfia. Azolla is a tall, slender, greenish plant that has many benefits. One of the reasons we used it was because it was so big, and it could protect the various plants and organisms in our flask. It also is a great provider of nutrients. We plan for it to provide food for the snails and any other organism hat needs it.

We started off adding sand. We used 50 ml of aquarium grade sand in each of the flasks. We thought this would be a good base for the flask, protecting organisms by providing a place to hide and serving as a holder for any plants we put in.
Next, we added coral gravel. In only our experimental flask, we put in about 50 ml. This element was an important one because it was our experimental variable in this experiment. We guessed that the coral gravel would ultimately help in the development and growth of our ecoflask because it's supposed to buffer the ph level of the water and keep it safe, clean, and soft for our plants and animals to live in.
Then, we added rocks. In each flask, we added 20 ml of rocks. These will function as a good place for the organisms to find shelter. Also, they will function as anchors for any plants that root in the ground.
Next came our soil. In each flask, we added 20 ml of soil. This addition was a key ingredient for our eco-flask because it is one of the main nutrient providers for our plants that root in the ground.
Last but certainly not least, we added the most important ingredient to help our flask survive, water. Into each flask went 600 ml of distilled Ice Mountain water. The water functions as a support system for all of our plants and organisms, and it also provides much needed oxygen to them.

We made three changes from our origional eco-flask. The first was deciding not to add the proposed 20 ml of Pigmy Chair Sword, also known as Echindorous Genus. We decided not to use this plant because of two reasons. One is that it did not come in time to be added at the same time as our other plants, and we felt it would not produce the same results if we added it much later than the other plants. The other reason we did not add it was because we saw the amount of Azolla and Wolfia in our flasks, and decided that they would be sufficient for the development of our flasks.
The next change we made was the amount of water. We planned on adding 400 ml of distilled water into each flask, but when we constructed the flasks, there was a large gap in the top of them. We decided to fill this void with 200 ml more of distilled water, 600 ml in total. This would help by providing more oxygen in the water and by providing more support for our plants and organisms.
The third and final change we made in our flasks was decicing to add soil. Looking at our assembled flasks, we all agreed that there was not enough nutrients for the plants. We did not think that the sun would be able to provide all the food that the plants needed, so we added 20 ml of soil in each flask, for nutrients and support.

Monday, January 23, 2006

ASSIGNMENT #1: PROPOSAL

A. Purpose and HypothesisThrough our ecocolumn experiment, there are many things to be discovered. By using many different plants and organisms in the experiment, we can further learn about ecosystems in general and life. With each success and failure in our ecocolumn, we can see how the different organisms will affect each other and what certain organism need to survive. From this, we will see how just as everything in our ecocolumn can affect everything else, so everything in our earth affects everything else as well. Our ecocolumns will be striving to be their own self-sustaining ecosystem representing a kind of mini version of our own world. By seeing the changes and growth in our ecocolumns we can gain a better understanding of how our own world works. In our ecocolumn we decided to use coral gravel as our experimental variable. We know that coral gravel is supposed to buffer the pH level of the water as well as help to maintain hardness in the water. The pH level is the concentration of hydrogen ion in the water. We know that plants often do well in a neutral pH level of around 7. The affect the coral gravel has on the organisms will depend on how much the coral gravel raises the pH level.Hypothesis: If coral gravel is added to the ecocolumn, then the organisms will be able to better survive because of a raised pH level.B. Background Research1. A self-sustaining ecosystem is a community of many different types of organisms. Within the ecosystem all of the organisms interact with each other, and they react to their physical environment as well. Every living organism requires energy to survive, and the amount of energy available in the ecosystem determines how many organisms are able to survive in the ecosystem. In the ecosystem there must be producers and consumers. The producers convert the energy from their environment into organic molecules that can be used by other organisms. Consumers then consume the energy from other organisms that the producers had produced. A type of consumer is a decomposer which consumes organic waste. Through these producers and consumers, the energy available in the ecosystem is cycled. A self-sustaining ecosystem is able to survive on its own using this cycle.2. The first organism is the orb snail (Heliosoma Genus). It can obtain oxygen through a lung, and it gets the oxygen from the surface. We chose it because it can eat decaying plants and algae and keep the water clean. What it eats is decayed plants and algae, and it likes to live in small ponds and lakes. We are going to use 2 snails for each so the reproduce and keep down plant population, but are not too invasive. One of the plants we chose to use is the Azolla Water Fern (Azolla Genus). The Azolla water fern has blue-green algae. We chose it because it provides shelter, minerals, and nutrients for all the organisms. They make their own food, and like to live in still, fresh water. We are going to use 30 mL of Azolla, because we need a bunch of them to supply enough nutrients.The next plant we chose to use is the Wolfia plant (Wolfia Genus). Wolfia is the smallest flowering plant in the world. We chose it because it reproduces fast and supplies lots of food to the orb snails. It makes its own food, and likes to float in still, fresh water. We are using 20 mL of Wolfia because Wolfia are really small so we need enough, and they are a key producer of food for the orb snails, because they reproduce fast and probably leave behind lots of remnants.The last plant we will be using will be the Pigmy Chain Sword (Echinodorus Genus). They have green, grassy type leaves, and can be medium to light green in color (depending on the type). We chose the mainly because they produce LOTS of oxygen in the water. They make their own food, and like to live in slightly acidic water at around 22°-30° Celsius. We will use 20 mL of P.C.S. so it will produce plenty of oxygen in the water.The first small organisms we're using are Water Fleas (Daphnia Genus). They are pathogenic and are usually predators or herbivores. We chose them because they will keep the flask clean by eating all the leftovers. They eat bacteria, fine detritus, small algae, and any other nutrients provided by the plants. They are most commonly found in ponds and lakes. We are using 4 mL of them because they have very distinct characteristics (i.e. they eat fine detritus) that are not found in many other organisms, and can be helpful to our ecosystem.The next small organisms that we're using are Hydras (Hydra Genus). They can regenerate any piece of their body. We chose them because they probably won't die out because they can be fierce predators, and we needed something to control the growth of the other two small organisms. Hydras are fresh water hydroids and they eat other small marine creatures. We decided to use 4 mL of the Hydras because it's enough to get them started, but not too many to have them grow wildly.The last small organisms we are going to use are Copepods (Copepoda Order). They are similar to some types of plankton and are predators. We chose them because they are vital to the food chain because their guts accelerate the flow of nutrients. They eat most types of small nutrients, and like fresh water. We decided to have 4 ml of Copepods in our flask because their guts are necessary, but we don't want too much to have them grow out of control.There are four main abiotic factors. One is the water. It will provide support for the plants and organisms and provide oxygen. The next is the coral gravel. The coral gravel will buffer the Ph level in the water and keep the water clean and comfortable for the organisms. The third is regular rocks. The regular rocks will provide a place to hang on to for some of the plants and organisms and give shelter or shade to any organism that wants it. Lastly is sand. The sand will provide shelter for plants and organisms. All of these will contribute to the column of stability by keeping the environment favorable for the plants and organisms.3. We have, in total, three different types of producers, three different types of living organisms (small), and one type of snail. We predict that the three producers will absorb the sun and produce nutrients (photosynthesis), and these nutrients will be dispersed into the water. Also, the pigmy chair swords will oxygenate the water and because the Wolfia plant reproduces fast, they will provide a lot of food for the snails. The snails will be helpful by cleaning up any decaying plants and algae. Water fleas also feed on decaying plants. The copepods' guts are supposed to be vital to the food chain because they increase the flow of nutrients and help the other organisms get food. The water fleas, copepods, and hydras will all eat the nutrients provided by the producers. We also think that the hydras will eat some of the water fleas and copepods because they are known to eat the other organisms around them. This will probably manage the amount of the other organisms in our ecocolumn. Finally, if there are microbes in our ecocolumn, then they will help keep the flask clean by eating away at any decayed plants.4. We will set up a controlled ecosystem that does not need any maintenance. To do this we will need to set up a population that supports itself and does not cause one species to overpopulate. We will set the number of plants to about 6 for every herbivore, and 2 herbivores for every carnivore. We will need orb snails to start because they multiply fast due to its low trophic level and eat decomposed plants. Bacteria will be introduced by itself through other organisms to decompose and clean the ecosystem's contents. The population of the plants must be the biggest because they provide the sun's energy to water fleas, and copepods (herbivores) which consume some energy and lose a little in the process they will also cleanse the tank and provide decomposers food. Energy will then travel to hydras which will need an abundance of food because a lot of energy is lost as it travels to each organism. The biomass will get lower on the higher levels of the pyramid per population to stabilize the ecosystem. The organisms with a low energy conversion rate will need the most food and will most likely be harmed so we will use only 4 mL of hydras in our experimental and control. Our biotic factors will include the plants Azolla water fern, pigmy chain sword, and Wolfia that feed water fleas and copepods. Then they clean and feed the hydras and then the hydras will die and provide food for the orb snails. Our abiotic factors will include our experimental variable coral gravel and vary the amount as well as add some rocks and this will be held in a plastic container. The rocks, coral gravel and plants should create a niche for many organisms and a livable habitat. The nitrogen and carbon will be provided as food starting the food chain at the plants. The oxygen will be absorbed through the water. The other nutrients will be provided by the contents of the water or food. We have chosen organisms with their primary food to avoid competition, but we will have to observe the consumption of the plants. We will watch out for limiting factors and only limit the growth of organism through the food chain. We will also try to maintain a community of organisms that help each other as in symbiosis. The Orb Snails will slow the pH level of the ecosystem and the bacteria will help it and the ammonia level eventually reach a stable point, cleaning the water. Most dead organisms will be decomposed by orb snails and various bacteria. This combination of nutrients, abiotic and biotic factors, and water purification will hopefully make a closed ecosystem.5. Everyday we will conduct tests to observe what creates certain conditions and how to change them. Everyday we will need to record the temperature with a thermometer and record the effects on the different climate organisms. A healthy range would be close to a little below room temperature. Every three days we should check the amount of dissolved compounds to see how fast the nutrients are being used. The compounds oxygen, carbon dioxide, phosphates and nitrates could tell if too much of one element is being produced creating an unhealthy unbalance. If these elements are decreasing quickly then they might not level out before killing many organisms and so it is a good indicator if they are unchanged or slowly changing. Ammonia and pH levels should be tested to see if there is too many organisms that produce it and if they are at harmful levels and need more cleansing organisms. pH levels should never exceed 7.5 or go below 3.0. pH tests should be taken every other day. If these tests prove that the ecosystem is leveling out or it is balanced then there should not be a significant change in the number of organisms to balance out the ecosystem.6. There have been other related experiments involving creating a self-sustaining ecosystem. One example is the EcoSphere. (http://www.eco-sphere.com/home.htm). In the case of the EoSphere, scientists have created a self-sustaining ecosystem within a glass circle or sphere. All the EcoSphere's need to survive is a source of light because they are already self-sustaining. They are filled with sea water and a number of different organisms. However, the EcoSphere can only typically survive for up to two years. Also, what differs from our own experiment is that these EcoSpheres were created by top scientists from NASA. The EcoSphere is very close to what we are trying to achieve with our own ecocolumns.C. Materials List1. Orb Snails (Heliosoma Genus) 42. Azolla water fern (Azolla Genus)- 1 oz.- p. 99- 86W5400- Ward's Natural Science Book- $6.25- using 60 mL3. Wolfia (Wolfia Genus)- using 40 mL4. Pigmy Chain Sowrd (Echinodorus Genus)- using 40 mL5. Water Fleas (Daphnia Genus)- using 8 mL6. Hydras (Hydra Genus)- Green Hydra- 87W2120- p. 115- $7.95- Ward's Natural Schience Book- using 8 mL7. Copepods (Copepoda Order)- p. 123- Ward's Natural Science Book- $6.20- 87W6020- using 8 mL8. 50 mL of coral gravel9. 800 mL of sterile fresh water10. 40 mL of rock11. 100 mL of sandD. Flask Construction Procedure1. We will first order all our products this will include ordering, 4 orb snails (Heliosoma Genus), 60 mL Azolla water ferns (Azolla Genus), 40 mL Wolfia (Wolfia Genus), 40 mL Pigmy Chain Sword (Echinodorus Genus), 8 mL Water Fleas (Daphnia Genus), 8 mL Hydras (Hydra Genus), and 8 mL Copepods (Copepoda Order). We will use half of each of these for each ecocolumn, We will also include 50 mL of sand, 400 mL of sterile fresh water, and 20 mL of rock for each ecocolumn. In one of the ecocolumns we will include 50 mL of coral gravel.2. We will measure out or abiotic factors and make sure they are sterile before we proceed. We will measure the coral gravel in a graduated cylinder by poring in water and then poring in gravel to see how much the water level rises and then subtract the measure of the water to the measure of the water and coral gravel to get an accurate measure of 50 mL of the coral gravel. This coral gravel will only be used in one of the ecolcolumns. We will repeat this procedure to measure the rocks substituting the coral gravel for rocks and using new water which we will measure to 20 mL. After the rocks and coral gravel are measured then we will measure the water to 400 mL of water. We will then measure 50 mL of sand. We will repeat all of the same steps for the other container, excluding the coral gravel.3. We will wash out the container and then set up the environment. We will spread the coral gravel over the experimental ecosystem and regular sand over the control. We will then place 20 mL of rocks in each container on the coral gravel.4. When the gravel, sand, and rock are in place we will carefully add the water.5. We will wait until everything has settled in each container and then we will add the plants carefully setting the ferns, and chain swords in the gravel in the gravel, and then putting the Wolfia on the top to float.6. Once we wait a few minutes letting the plants settle we will begin putting in our animals. We will drop in a different species every minute in each container starting with the snails then proceeding to copepods, water fleas, and Hydras in order.7. Finally when everything has settled we will tightly screw in the lid and set them on a spot near the window where they both get equal light.E. VariablesControlled Variables:1) Water amount - We will measure about 400 ml of water in a beaker twice.2) Water content - We will get the water from the same sink and use the same beaker.3) Water temperature - We will keep them in the same room with the same room temperature (approximately 72°).4) Sunlight for plants - We will place them right next to each other and in places where they will receive equal amounts of sun and shade.5) Movement - If we move one flask to view it, we will move the other.6) Equal number of plants - We will put the same number of each plant species in each flask.- 30 mL of Azolla water ferns, 4 mL of Hydras, and 20 mL of Wolfia7) Equal number of organisms - We will put the same number of each organism in each flask.- 2 orb snails, 20 mL of Pigmy Chain Sword, 4mL of water fleas, and 4mL of Copepods.8) Equal rocks - We will put the same size, type and amount of rocks in each flask.- 20 mL9) Put together the same time - We will assemble the flasks at the same time.10) Set up - We will use the same procedure and steps for each flask.11) Arrangement - We will place the rocks, sticks, plants, etc. in the same place for each flask.12) Equal amount of sand- The sand can provide a home for the organisms and help them survive, so we will be using the same amount in each ecocolumn.- 50 mLExperimental Variable: Coral GravelIn one flask, we will include 50 mL of coral gravel. In the other, we will not put any coral gravel in.Dependent Variables:Each day we will conduct tests to observe what creates certain conditions and how to change them. We will record the temperature with a thermometer and record the effects of different climate organisms. Every three days we will test the amount of dissolved compounds to find out how fast the nutrients are being used. Oxygen, carbon dioxide, phosphates, and nitrates can tell us if too much of one element is being produced and making a dangerous unbalance. Ammonia and pH levels should be tested to see if there are too many organisms that produce it and if they are at harmful levels and need more cleansing organisms. pH levels should never exceed 7.5 or go below 3.0. The pH tests should be taken every other day. It these tests prove that the ecosystem is leveling out or it is balanced then there should not be a significant change in the number of organisms to balance out the ecosystem.F. Random ErrorTo prevent some random error we will take the most careful precautions. We will make sure that all abiotic factors including rock, coral gravel, the water and the container are sterile. Possibly if one of these were not cleaned then it could bring in some unexpected variables that can damage or change our project. We will always make sure our container is secured tightly because there is always a possibility of a leak of water and some of the organisms escaping if it is not closed. When ever we handle the container we will make sure we turn it slowly and carefully without changing the environment. If one of the containers is shifted and the control isn't then that is another variable we now have to take into account. We will make sure we keep a safe procedure throughout this experiment.G. Environment Our ecocolumn experiment can teach us a lot about the environment and how to take care of it. First of all, we will see the interactions between organisms and plants. They all will rely on each other to survive. In our environment humans are so quick to destroy trees and other aspects of nature. From this project, people can see how much everything in the environment is linked to everything else. Maybe then they will think twice about destroying one aspect of the environment. Also, we will see the impact of the type of organisms we're using. Most of our organisms will be very tiny and hard to see. However, these organisms will grow, provide for other organisms, and rely on other organisms. We will learn that everything in our environment, no matter how small, can do a lot and is very important. Through this experiment, we will all learn a lot about our own environment and hopefully our careless attitude towards the environment will change significantly.H. SOURCESEcoSphere. [Online]. Ecosphere Associates Inc. Available: http://www.eco-sphere.com/home.htm [2005,Oct.1].The University of Hawaii System. (2005, August 30). Ecosystem Project. [Online]. Available: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~oran/ecosystem.htm [2005, Sept. 28].Ecosystem. [Online]. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. Available: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=ecosystem [2005, Sept. 28].Coy, J. (2005, September 15). Abiotic Factors. [Online]. Available: http://www.pwsb33.ab.ca/biodiversity/photo.htm [2005, Oct 2].Brough, J. Hornwort. [Online]. Available: http://animal-world.com/encyclo/fresh/plants/StemPlants/hornwort.php [2005, Sept. 21].McCaw, M. Stargrass. [Online]. Available: http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/plants/McCaw_Stargrass.html [2005, Sept. 21.]Petfish.net. Pygmy Chain Sword. [Online]. Available: http://www.petfish.net/pygswod.htm [2005, Sept. 21].Access Washington. General Information about Eurasian Watermilfoil. [Online]. Available: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/milfoil.html [2005, Sept. 21].Common Duckweed. [Online]. Available: http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/duckweed.htm [2005, Sept. 21].University of Wisconsin-Extension. Orb Snail. [Online]. Available: http://clean-water.uwex.edu/wav/monitoring/biotic/group3.htm [2005, Sept. 22].Knotts, K. The Genus Wolffia. [Online]. Available: http://www.victoria-adventure.org/aquatic_plants/wolffia/page1.html [2005, Sept. 21].Booth, G. Snails. [Online]. Available: http://faq.thekrib.com/snails.html [2005, Sept. 22].Parmentier, J. (1999). Water Fleas. [Online]. Available: http://microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artjun99/wflea.html [2005, Sept.21].Parmentier, J. (1998). Hydras. [Online]. Available: http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artjun98/janhydra.html [2005, Sept. 21].W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia. (2004). Food Chains. [Online]. Available: http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/F/FoodChains.html [2005, Oct. 4].The Tropical Tank. (2001). Substrate Materials. [Online]. Available: http://www.thetropicaltank.co.uk/substrat.htm [2005, Oct. 4].Washington State Department of Ecology. Freshwater Plants. [Online]. Available: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/plantid2/index.html [2005, Sept. 21].

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hey everyone!

Okay, I've got my blog set up. Let's get crackin'.