Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nose Hill Grassland Blog, by Wesley and Marina

            Nose hill Park is a very interesting and unique park to Calgary; it is the second largest park and will no doubt be affected by human impact over the years. It has been known to have diverse organisms in both plants and animals. Marina and I went to Nose Hill on September to research and collect samples. We noticed a lot of things about the park. First we made a transect (1mx10m; see Figure 1) to collect soil, biomass, plant and animal species to identify and test in the lab. A transect is an area that is made for studying a piece of land and everything inside of it. The climate was very dry and cold. The temperature we recorded was 16 degrees Celsius.

Figure 1.  A photo of the transect Marina and
 I created to research and take samples
for nose hill.
           The grassland biome is very exposed to the sun and sunlight can reach into the biome with ease. There is however an exception of how taller grasses and plants will out compete the smaller plants and shorter grasses. This is both an interspecific and intraspecific competition between the plants in this biome. This kind of competition exists because the taller grasses and plants will continue to grow and lean towards the sunlight for energy while the smaller plants are not growing and start to wear down and decompose. Speaking of decomposers we actually stumbled by a worm while I was collecting soil in our transect (see Figure 1). 
Figure 2.  Photo taken by Marina shows a
worm appearing when retrieving our
soil sample from our transect.


          Worms show that the area is rich in organic matter and valuable nutrients. Going back to the lab we did a soil profile and found out what exactly was in the water of the soil to see if it is normal and healthy. We found through many tests that the soil contained:

·       0.25mg/L phosphate
·       10. mg/L calcium
·       50 mg/L calcium carbonate
·       0mg/L ammonia
·       2.5mg/L Nitrate
·       pH of 5.0 (slightly acidic)

The soil chemistry indicates that first; the pH of the soil is pretty standard compared to other soils. The average pH for soil is around 5.0-8.0 pH. The nitrate and phosphate levels are very poor which contradicts the statement I made earlier on how healthy the soil is. But this could be due to the many sources of error when I was testing the soil sample in the lab. Firstly there is the human error, I could have read the instructions wrong, timing was inaccurate, forgot to shake etc. Second I noticed a portion of the tests were expired or really old which could have affected the result and outcome for the data. We retrieved the soil through the tool as shown in Figure 3. This tool allows us to see the different layers of soil and the characteristics of it. The soils temperature was 9 degrees Celsius.

Figure 3.  I’m collecting soil into a plastic bag
for further analysis in the lab. You can
observe the soils layer and how it changes as
it gets deeper.

Figure 3:
I’m collecting soil into a plastic bag for further analysis in the lab. Can observe the soils layer and how it changes as it gets deeper.

            Since nose hill park is the second largest park in Calgary it obviously going to be affected by humans. We humans have a big impact on this park and how it develops in the next generations.  The park is a great recreational area and good for hiking as well as walking dogs. The problem is when humans come in contact with the environment in a negative way such as littering, polluting and contaminating the park during their visit.

Figure 4.   A photo of a rotting and
decomposing banana we found near
our transect.
            I’m sure biologists and environmentalists would be upset when they see such a scene. Humans are the biggest contributing factor of whether Nose Hill Park can stay a healthy park or be damaged and polluted. Many different plant species were seen at the transect Marina and I created. Some of these species include:

·         Wild Rose (berries)
·         Prairie Rose (Rosa ark ansana porter)
·         Western Snowberry
·         Canadian Thistle
·         Squirrel tail

We did not find much living animal organisms we found in our transect other than the worm and a spider. The role or niche of the worm is to act as a decomposer. Decomposers feed on detritus which are waste from plants and animals, which also include their dead remains. The spider we found at nose hill was identified as a wolf spider which is a secondary consumer and its role is to feed on the primary consumers in the biome to keep their numbers low.
Public use of this park is changing the ecosystem and affecting the organisms. Humans, however, can be ecological friendly and leave a smaller ecological footprint by not littering or disrupting the food chain. This can be achieved without too much difficultly as long as humans are informed and educated. Humans decide the future of Nose Hill park and it is up to the choices of them for what will happen in Nose Hill. 

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