Monday, November 29, 2010

Forest Blog by Queenie and Sylvia

                Going to Nose Hill my partner and I had a question in mind that we decided we would like to do research on. This question was “What effect did the forest fire on Nose Hill have on the ecosystem?” We did all our testing in a forest area, one set of data was taken from Nose Hill and we also went to Edworthy Park to collect a second set of data. Comparing results of the two parks will show us how the fire on September 30, 2006 affected Nose Hill Park because both parks are considered healthy so certain differences can be attributed to the fire. The biomass we retrieved from the ground floor was 97.5g per 0.25m² for Nose Hill, and 7.9g per 0.25m² for Edworthy Park. As seen in the following photos it is obvious that there is practically no grass on the forest floor of Edworthy Park: Whereas on Nose Hill the ground was covered in grass, plants and other small shrubs.

Figure 1. Forest floor of Nose Hill Park.

Figure 2. Forest floor of Edworthy Park.

We have determined that this abundance of plant growth on the forest floor of Nose Hill is a pioneer community. A pioneer community is the first step in the long process of succession. Succession is what we use to describe the natural change of a developing area as it progresses towards a final stable community called a climax community. A pioneer community consists of hardy plants that can handle large exposures of sunlight and varying soil temperatures. Some of these plants are shown below in figures 3 and 4. Other plants found on the forest floor would be wild grasses and small shrubs. The reason for this is that the plants will be exposed to direct sunlight due to the fact that there is no protection which would usually be provided by the tall trees towering above.
Figure 3.  A Canadian Thistle found in our
Nose Hill Transect
Figure 4.  A prickly rose found on Nose Hill.
Figure 5. A Soil Profile from our Nose Hill
                Another piece of evidence that the Nose Hill forest is undergoing the process of succession is the soil content. In figure 5 we see a soil profile taken from our Nose Hill Transect. The soil was very moist and layered. A soil profile could not be collected from Edworthy Park because the soil was very dry, crumbly and gravelly. The difference in the soil of the two parks is because as seen in figure 2 there is a copious amount of trees present in Edworthy Park. Therefore the soil needs to be more solid to hold in the massive tree roots and tree trunks. It is not necessarily moist though because the roots suck up most of the moisture and then the deeper roots extract any more water needed for the tree from the soil deep down that has more moisture. The soil from Nose Hill is more moist because there are a lot of tiny little roots keeping it moist and holding it all together. In the photo of the soil sample the roots are hard to see but they are the tiny little white spots in the soil they’re running through the soil and were cut off by the soil corer.
                So how has the fire affected Nose Hill?  Due to the differences in soil and biomass between the two parks we’ve determined that it is undergoing the process of succession. Besides the fact that the grass and other types of plants are different than they would normally be: The animal life also changes. Herbivores may migrate to this area due to the abundance of food. This can result in a decrease of this animal’s predator in the area they came from. An example of this is if a deer migrated to the area of Nose Hill that we studied from the opposite end, coyotes in the opposite end might begin to decrease. The environment is also very unstable right now and sudden changes in the ecosystem can cause problems. Hopefully our blog has helped you with learn something about succession and the environment on Nose Hill.

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