Monday, November 28, 2011
Meanwhile, back at the pond... by Ashley and Tanica
Nose Hill Park is one of the biggest municipal parks in all of North America. Even though the majority of the land in Nose Hill Park is grassland, there are other different ecosystems in the park such as the forest and pond. The pond ecosystem and the major effects of plant species on the animal species in the pond and the factors affecting the plant species will be discussed in this entry.
Figure 1. Photo of the pond at Nose Hill Park. Note the No Dogs sign which is a significant affect to the duck population there. Photo taken by Ashley.
Plants are very important to the ecosystem of the pond. They are the source of almost all of the animals living in the pond and they control the healthiness of the pond itself. Because of the different plant species, there are many different animal species that live in the pond. From this direct correlation, all ponds are unique depending on the plant species that they contain. The pond being studied is the Nosehill pond located at approximately 51.1°N and -114.1°W. It is a manmade storm water pond, but still contains several different species of both plants and animals. Because of the plant species growing in the pond, the animal species have also adapted to fit the plant species.
There are many plant species in and around the pond. Some of the species of plants include Mentha arvensis (Wild Mint), Schoenoplectus acutus var. Acutus (Hardstemmed Bulrush), Elodea Canadensis (Pondweed), Potamoeton pusillus (small pond weed), Typha latifolia (Cattails), algae, and phytoplankton. The wild mint actually acts as a repellent for all the animals that we deem as pests which slightly lowers the pest population where there are bundles of wild mint.
Figure 2. Photo of wild mint (Mentha arvensis) collected by Mrs.Miller. Picture was taken by Ashley.
Aphids and other small insects feed on the Hardstemmed Bulrush. Because of the abundance of this plant, this will increase the aphid population and also bring in other animals or insects that feed on aphids and small insects closer to the pond as well.
Figure 3. Picture of the abundance of the Hardstemmed Bulrush (Schoenoplectus acutus var .acutus) that grows near and in the pond. Photo taken by Ashley.
The pond weed is food for many fresh water organisms as well as birds. This results in the increase of ducks and other birds in the pond which also eat many other organisms living in the pond. The cattail is also a source of food for many animals such as deer and ducks and provides habitats to a large number of the bird population.
Figure 4. The cattails (Typha latifolia) found at the pond at Nose Hill Park. Picture taken by Ashley.
Algae can range from unicellular organisms to multicellular organisms, but are limited to eukaryotes. Alga found in the pond is a food source for many smaller animals such as Gammarus lacustris (Fresh water shrimp). Phytoplankton are also found in the pond and serve as a base for many pond ecosystems. They are autotrophs that contain chlorophyll but they are unable to be seen without some sort of magnifying device. They are the food source of many organisms, including Gammarus lacustris (Fresh water shrimp). The plants are responsible for pulling together the ecosystem and all of the different animals that are found in each specific ecosystem.
The temperature based on the latitude of the pond ecosystem changes the plants that are present in the pond. The temperature of the air at Nose Hill Park at the time that it was studied was 20.0°C and the temperature of the pond at 20 cm ± 5 cm at the centre was 14.9°C. The location of the pond is approximately 51.1°N and -114.1°W. This affects the plant species because all those plants that are unable to live within the ranges of temperature will die quickly and create room for those that are able to grow in the temperature ranges to survive and prosper. Thus, one of the main abiotic factors affecting the ecosystem of the pond is temperature.
Abiotic factors also affect the pond’s plant species. Because of the way this pond was created, almost everything left out during rainy weather can possibly end up in this pond. Through this method, high volumes of dissolved pollution can flow into the pond through run-off and leaching. If certain species of plants are very sensitive to pollution, and there is too much pollution, many of the sensitive plant species can perish, which leads to the death of several other animals that are vital to the pond’s ecosystem. This ends up tipping the balance of the ecosystem and can seriously harm it.
Through these different plant species, different animal species are able to live in this ecosystem. There are several animals that were found in the pond such as Odonata corduliidae (Green eyed Skimmer), Gammarus lacustris (Fresh water shrimp), Phalangium opilio (Daddy Long Legs), Ephemerella aurivillii (mayfly larva), and ducks. Several of these animals feed on the plants found in or around the pond (as primary consumers) or on other animals that eat the plants in or around the pond (as secondary consumers). In order for the animals to survive better, they will all live in or close to the pond to get their food sources. If there were no plants in this that the primary consumers could eat, then they would all die of starvation and the secondary consumers would also die because of the same reason. Another situation is that if there was another species of plants introduced (most likely invasive to a certain extent), then there was an animal better adapted to consume the plant would survive much better than the previous animals that were originally living in that habitat. Through this, plant species are very important to the structure of the ecosystem.
Figure 5. Fresh water shrimp (Gammarus lacustris) found in the pond. It is a decomposer but also eats algae found in the pond. Photo taken by Ashley.
Figure 6. Phalangium opilio (Daddy Long Legs) found around the pond. It is a secondary consumer and feeds off of small insects. Photo taken by Ashley Choo.
Figure 7. Duck found swimming in the pond during arrival at pond. Ducks are primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers depending on which needs it needs to meet and consumes the plants living in and around the pond as well as some of the insects and animals that live in the pond. Photo taken by Tanica.
Because of the different plant species, there are different animal species in the pond ecosystem at Nose Hill Park. The plant species is the main reason that all of the animals that were found in or around the park. The plants found in the pond are specific to the animals found in the pond, as the primary consumers are adapted to specifically consume them and then the secondary consumers prey upon the primary consumers.