Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Plants Affect on the Type and Density of the Animals in Grassland, by Sherry

             Everything on the earth is closely related just like a biological chain. The extinction of any kind of species would affect the balance of the entire biological chain. A slight change can also affect the balance of the ecological system, because almost every live organism interacts with each other in one way or another. In this case, plants have found played a significant role in biological chain and ecological system of the grasslands. Plants are especially significant nowadays in our world because of the greenhouse gases and global warming, world temperature, both of which are getting worse.  Plants are one of the amazing creatures that absorb CO2 gas and release oxygen gas into the air, in order for animals to use, including ourselves. Therefore, not only do plants have a huge impact on animals, but they interact with millions of different species of animals as well. By using data collected of plants and animals alike, the importance of plants and how they affect and interact with different types, density of animals at Nose Hill can be seen.
Nose Hill Natural Environmental Park is located in a busy and noisy city --- Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The park has an area of 11.27 km2 and is a unique natural environmental park, because in a busy city it is hard to find a park like Nose Hill, where citizens can retreat from city to enjoy the beauty of the nature. Nose Hill Park is home to a variety of species such as large mammal, birds, reptiles, plants and insects. The park is the host to three major kinds of ecological biomes including ponds, forests and grassland, among them grassland has the most biodiversity of species. (Picture 1: The overview picture of grassland and forest biome at Nose Hill Park, taken on Sept 22, 2011 by Sherry Lu) We specifically worked in our transect 10m length  x 1m width, which can be found at a latitude of 50 degrees 6.824 min N, and longitude 14 degrees 7.767 min W. The transect was started at angle of 23° NE which was the bottom right corner of out transect. (Picture 2: The bottom corner section view of our transect in grassland biome at Nose Hill Park, taken by Sherry Xu on Sept 22, 2011)  The large diversity of species could be seen through the large numbers of large mammals, insects and plants that were found.
Grassland is a home to many organisms, through the samples and pictures that have been collected and taken of the organisms in grassland biome, three main categories of species have been identified, large mammals, insects and plants. Firstly, the white-tailed deer was present in the grassland, which was the first large mammal we saw. (Picture 3: The white-tailed deer was seeing in the grassland on Sept 22, 2011 at Nose Hill Park. The picture was taken by Tanica Chan.) (Video 1: The white-tailed deer present in the grassland at Nose Hill Park, when we were crossing over the road. The background voice was Dr. Pike’s; he was telling us to look over to see the deer in the grassland. The video was taped on Sept 22, 2011 by Tanica Chan.) Secondly, the most abundant number of insects were found. Samples of these insects were collected and they are include, grasshopper, threecornered alfalfa hopper, seven-spotted ladybird beetle, running crab spider, assassin bug, march flies, unidentified flies and an unidentified spider. Lastly, also the most important one, many plant samples were also collected. The plants that were found including, crested wheat grass, rose hips, sweet grass, switchgrass, silverberry, small-leaved everlasting, snowberry and puccoon seeds. (Picture 4: The fruit of rose hips was found in our transect in the grassland, latitude 50o6.824 min, longitude 14o7.767 min and angle at 23o clockwise N on Sept 22, 2011 at Nose Hill Park. The picture was taken by Sherry Lu.)
The majority of the animals that were found in grassland at Nose Hill Park have a diet that mostly consists of vegetation and plants, which means their major food resources are primary producers. This includes the white-tailed deer, grasshopper and threecomered alfalfa hopper. Therefore, the most common animals found in grassland are primary consumers, in other words they are herbivores. The plants do affect the type of animals. The second most abundant type of animals found were tertiary consumers, which are spiders and flies. This shows that grassland not only provides vegetation for the primary consumers but also the animals in the higher tropic level, because grassland provides enough food resources for tertiary consumer to eat, such as the primary consumers and secondary consumers.

Animal name
Number of animals collected or found
Trophic level
Large mammal
Common name:                White-tailed deer
Scientific name: Odocoileus virignianus
A very obvious white tail, also some white spots on the body, brownish yellow colour fur
Whitetail deer feed on a variety of vegetation, mostly grass and some small herbs
Primary consumer
Common name: grasshopper
Scientific name:
Chorthippus curtipennis
Brownish green colour, large hind legs that help them jump long distances, two sets of wings, with the forewings being slender and the hindwings large, also with large eyes in relation to their head and short antennae
Eat  leaves, flowers, stems and seeds
Primary consumer
Common name: Threecornered alfalfa hopper
Scientific name: Spissistilus festinus
Entire body green colour, about 1/4 inch long, 2 wings, actively hop and fly when disturbed
Eat fruit trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses
Primary consumer
Common name: seven-spotted ladybird beetle
Scientific name: Coccinella septempunctata
Have 7 spotted black dots on the red elytra (hard shelled wings on the back of the beetle); three spots on either side and one joined at the center top near the thorax and head region.
Eat aphids and any type of mustard plant as well as other early blooming nectar and pollen sources, like buckwheat, cilantro, legumes like vetches and red or crimson clover
Secondary consumer
Common name:              Running Crab Spider
Scientific name:               Tibellus maritimus
the second set of legs are the longest, run sideways and has a distinct long black strip on the back, eight equal-sized eyes, in two curved arcs of four each
Eat all insects, whatever it can hunt down
Tertiary consumer
Common name:              Assassin Bug
Scientific name:                  Zelus renardii
Brown in colour, 2 hidden wings, sucking mouthparts to feed, and have long, slender antennae, A short, three-segmented of 4 beaks distinguishes them from other true bugs. Their heads are often tapered behind the eyes.
prey on other small invertebrates
Secondary consumer
Common name: march flies
Scientific name: Plecia sp
Brown colour, one pair of functional wings. A pair of modified wings called halteres replace the hindwings
lap juices from fruits, nectar, or fluids exuded from animals
Quanternary consumer
Common name: flies (unidentified)
Scientific name: Diptera
Black colour, with one pair of functional wings. A pair of modified wings called halteres replace the hindwings, looks like march fly
Assume it lap juices from fruits, nectar or fluids exuded from animals, because it looks like march fly
Assume it is quanternary consumer, because can’t identify and looks like march fly
Common name: spider (unidentified)
Scientific name: Araneae Order
Brownish colour, the size is very small, assume it’s not full grown yet, 4 legs are about the same length
Assume it eat small invertebrates, since spider hunt small insects
Assume it is quanternary consumer, most spider eats insects
Table 1: The animals that were observed on Sept 22, 2011 in the grassland biome at nose hill park

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