AP Bio Ecology Project: Quadrat Sampling

Today we will see nature in its most raw and
untamed form, and analyze the intricacies of wildlife interactions. We want to achieve a thorough study on this
delicate habitat, but it is impossible to scrutinize such a large region. You must understand
that as ecologists, it is not feasible to try to count every organism in a particular
habitat as there are just way. too. many. Therefore, we will be using an advanced and
innovative technique called ‘quadrat sampling.’ Quadrat sampling is generally used to collect
data when studying ecological changes in a specific environment. Organisms found within
randomly distributed quadrats around the site of observation are identified and recorded.
This method is most appropriate for estimating the size of a population when the individuals
are too numerous to be counted. Quadrats are most effective with slow moving organisms
or stationary organisms such as plants. They don’t work as well for bees and birds, but
we employed our problem-solving genius and estimated the size of our quadrat region with
merely the power of our brains. Because we’re scientists. And scientists don’t
quit. Our method is accurate and innovative. To
eliminate as much bias as possible, we take turns throwing our quadrat randomly. Here we see a scientist in motion. Good throw, little girl. Let’s see how much
of the green plant ended up inside the quadrant. One hundred percent ground cover. Now, we must record our data, and do it thirteen
more times. As scientists we must ask questions. Some
questions may be, “Why is the sky blue?”, or “What is wrong with Fremont’s weather?”
But today we focus on the effects of weather on the Earth’s organisms. We hypothesize two ideas: ‘If the weather
is warmer, then there will be more bees’ and additionally, ‘If the weather is warmer, there
will be less plants due to loss of water.’ To test these hypotheses and produce the most
accurate results, we visit this site twice everyday to record organism activity, once
at noon, and again approximately two hours later. During the observation period, we record the
temperature, times, weather conditions, and the status of the observed organisms and their
interactions. It may look like we are watching grass grow,
but that is only because we are watching grass grow. Today we will be focusing on six of nature’s
wonders: purple flowers, white flowers, honeybees, ladybug, bird, and finally, decaying mushrooms. The ceanothus prostratus is a species of flowering
shrub endemic to California. These plants are much less abundant, perhaps because they
are closer to the bell tower quad. Rotting human food not thrown away properly can contaminate
the soil and affect the growth rate of the purple plants. These plants are also shaded
from direct sunlight by trees, so it has fewer leaves and looks..deader. This is known as the Sweet Woodruff, Galium
odoratum. This is not to be confused with ceanothus prostratus. The soft green leaves
are carried in whorls on thick stems that grow close to the ground…and when its small-petaled
white flowers appear above this lush carpet in May and June, the effect is enchanting.
Sweet Woodruff thrives in practically any soil and will spread aggressively, making
it a wonderful ground cover. Bees crowd the flowers of plants for their
nectar, and pollen sticks to their furry legs. The bee population stayed at a fairly constant
level of 2 bees per quadrat throw, until galium odoratum flowered. Then, we saw a dramatic
increase in the number of bees, especially at noon. The flowers must produce delicious
nectar for the bees to feast upon for lunch. Or maybe bees just really enjoy the color
white. That would be a source of error. We have also observed the occasional wind-displaced
ladybug, coccinella magnifica, that drifted to this ecosystem. They usually burrow beneath
the leaves of the green coverage, and most never return. This is the majestic, rare, common garden
mushroom, Agaricus placomyces. It plays a key role in ecosystems decomposing dead matter
and recycling nutrients for other organisms. Here is a black bird, scientific name Euphagus
cyanocephalus. It prefers situating itself under the shade of shrubbery on humid days
rather than interacting with fellow birds. And now, a brief history of the area: previously,
this site had not been covered by so many various species, and had only sported the
usual black birds and had scattered ivy and tanbark covering the ground. Using mild biological
remediation by introducing new plants to attract other species of animals, we are also able
to help the ground recover its minerals through encouraging the nutrient cycles by planting
new organisms. Another concept deals with disturbances which
can influence species diversity and composition. Human disturbance is one that has the greatest
impact on biological communities worldwide. In this case, the more trash humans leave
behind, the more harmful substances birds will ingest, which will eventually strangle
them from the inside. As the temperature increased, the percentage
of plants increased. There is a general positive correlation between the two. The Galium odoratum stayed pretty constant
throughout the interval, but you can see that the Ceanothus prostratus had the most fluctuation. For the bees, there is no transparent correlation
between bees and the temperature. But as the amount of the Galium odoratum increased,
the number of bees increased. So there is an implied positive correlation between temperature
and bees. Because of the constant weather, the number
of organisms didn’t change as much. Our data was unusual due to the disappearance
of the mushrooms for an unknown reason. It could be caused by a lack of good conditions,
the birds ate them, or someone cleaned it up. On the 17th day when it was drizzling, the
white flowers started to grow more, and the number purple flowers started to decrease.
This may be due to different blooming periods. Finally, to wrap up the observations, we posed
two questions in our study of bees that appeared in our field. Based on observations, we noted that these
honey bees are considered to be more aggressive. They tend to overpower native bumblebees.
We believe that this explains why when there are more honey bees there are less bumble
bees, which answers the ultimate question. Also, more bumble bees are attracted to white
flowers and that weather affects the plants thereby affecting the appearance of certain
types of bees, which answers the proximate question. In the end, we are able to apply these concepts
to our habitat’s situation. We also learned that bumblebees and honeybees are actually
not the same thing; that Californian weather is pretty constant so plant growth is constant;
and temperature does, in fact, influence organism activity, including blooming periods. And
this concludes the report of five struggling scientists. But to become a true scientist and fully comprehend
the lives of those that you study, you must bring yourself to their eye level. So I will
pretend to be a bee. Oh honeycomb. bzz.