Monday, December 6, 2010

The Pond, by Mariam

Within our vast world we have a multitude of ecosystems, each one wildly complex due to the relationships between its factors; from predation, to symbiosis, to simple coexistence. One of the greatest examples of this is the Nose Hill pond in Calgary. We have been so lucky enough to be able to do a group study of this phenomenal ecosystem with our Biology class and have chosen to explain the different symbiotic relationships within it. Within the nose hill pond both biotic (living) and abiotic ( non-living) factors exist; contributing to the cycle of life. For example- when at the park we tested the pond water and found a prevalence of phosphates and nitrates (abiotic factors), which led to increased plant life and the existence of flowering plants in the surrounding area. When sweeping through the bush we also found bees which may have come over from the nearby forest. The bees near the pond can therefore take nectar from the plants to produce honey for food and the plants can get pollinated and fulfill their purpose to propagate their genetic material. In this example the relationship between the bees and flowering plants is mutualistic, meaning they both benefit from their interaction. For our study it is important to differentiate between the separate biotic-biotic relationships of predation and parasitism.  In the nose hill pond ecosystem we examined the food pyramid- at the bottom we discovered autotrophic plants such as mint, as we move up a trophic level we can find secondary consumers such as hop fly beetles which consume mint, above them we found salamanders or tertiary consumers that eat beetles.
Figure 1.1 Black Salamander
(Robert Lewis, 2002:
Both the secondary and tertiary consumers are known as heterotrophs as they do not produce their own food. This food pyramid shows examples of predation as the respective organisms are killing and consuming the organisms in the trophic levels below them. In contrast parasitism does not kill either of the organisms, for example a mosquito (parasite) bites a passerby (host), the mosquito benefits from receiving blood for nourishment and the human suffers from pain and blood loss. In addition we found that the PH of the water was 6.5, indicating a slightly acidic but nearly neutral level – these conditions are hospitable to many life forms and therefore support a wide biodiversity within the pond  and with that a greater multitude of organisms. Oh the mysteries of ecology.

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