The Effects on an Ecosystems Metabolism Essay

An ecosystem can be basically defined as the collection of biotic and abiotic factors in the environment which are interacting with each other, thus creating a connection between things in the environment, living or non-living (Lab Man - The Effects on an Ecosystems Metabolism Essay introduction. 2007). Earth is composed by a great number of ecosystems which are connected with each other, affecting one another. They have great diversity and is constantly changing. They have various exchanges with other aspects of the environment. In order to understand them fully, experts find ways in order to study and analyze them (“What Is an Ecosystem? ). Studying them includes other important processes in order to do so. An example of these processes of studying the exchanges is the careful analysis of how the energy flow is the system, which is a way of giving connections between various organisms in the environment. The organisms are classified as either autotrophs or heterotrophs (“Geotopics: Ecosystems”). The light-gatherers or the plants are the organisms that are able to convert raw energy from sunlight to serve as their food. These organisms are considered as autotrophs.

Photosynthetic autotrophs capture energy from their environment, such as the sun, and then store this energy. Meanwhile, the organisms that feed on them afterwards, the plant eaters, and the organisms that also feed on these plant eaters, are considered as heterotrophs. This cycle of consumption of autotrophs and heterotrophs forms a food web, a connection of their consumption patterns in the environment. When these organisms consume and are consumed, there is a transfer of energy between them, majority of which came from the autotrophs.

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The energy transfer between the organisms are low in fact, about 10-20% of the energy at one trophic level in a food web is actually transferred to the next trophic level (Lab Man. 2007). The process of measuring the metabolism of ecosystems is very much alike to measuring the metabolism of a single organism, such that for the ecosystem, the process of doing so is done on a larger scale. One way to do so is carefully following the transfer of various gasses in the environment; specifically, oxygen and carbon dioxide. This is because these two are the ones who are directly related to photosynthesis (Lab Man. 007). If there is a net gain of oxygen in a system over time, then photosynthesis has exceeded respiration, meaning that the system is autotrophic. If there is a net loss of oxygen in a system over time, then respiration exceeded photosynthesis, meaning that the system is heterotrophic (Lab Man. 2007). To measure respiration (R) for a system, oxygen change over time must be measured in the absence of light. To measure net primary production (NPP) for a system, oxygen change over time must be measured in the presents of light.

Gross primary production (GPP) equals NPP (net primary production=net oxygen gain) plus R (respiration=oxygen consumed), (GPP=NPP+R). Given the various aquatic sites in the campus, the hypothesis would be that these places have the same ecosystem metabolisms all over. The alternative hypothesis is that the ecosystem metabolisms in different aquatic systems on campus are not the same. Methods and Materials: The experiment was done in two different pods found in the Florida International University – south campus, and was labeled or named as Habitat #1 and Habitat #2 respectively.

Water samples from these ponds were taken and were placed in two bottles, once for each. Each of these bottles had undergone two treatments. The first treatment is about the water containing the autotrophic phytoplanktons which are found suspended in the water column. The second treatment consists of water that contains periphyton, a complex community of autotrophic algae and heterotrophic bacteria, from the habitat (Lab Man. 2007). The periphyton treatment was done only for the ecosystem which was habitat #2.

The oxygen levels were taken in the beginning of the experiment giving an initial oxygen reading. Each treatment was incubated for an hour in two types of bottles, one clear and one dark. The purpose of the dark bottle is to be able to simulate a habitat without photosynthesis. After incubation the oxygen levels were taken again to give the final oxygen reading. The materials used were: an oxygen reader instrument, and several glass bottles. The results were used to calculate NPP, R, and GPP. These values are useful to compare the habitats metabolisms. Results:

Net primary production (NPP), respiration (R), and gross primary production (GPP) exhibit an ecosystems metabolism. These values are given on Table #1. The NPP, R, and the GPP were found to be the greatest for the periphyton. Only t-test could be used by the class in order to compare habitat #1 and habitat #2 with phytoplankton, which is shown on tables #2 to #4, graphs #1 to #3, and t-test’s #1 to #3. The p-value for the t-test assuming equal variance for NPP for Phytoplankton was 0. 022, which was less than 0. 05, which means that these values are not similar.

The p-value for the t-test assuming equal variance for R for Phytoplankton was 0. 169, which was more than 0. 05, meaning the values were similar. The p-value for the t-test assuming equal variance for GPP for Phytoplankton was 0. 033 which was less than 0. 05, meaning the values were not similar. Tables #2-4 are the data tables of the t-tests #1-3 and graph #1-3. Discussion: When the comparison between NPP, R, and GPP were made for the selected habitats # and # 2, only the R values were found to show similarity in the t-test for these habitats when it comes to the phytoplankton treatment.

The NPP and GPP values showed no hint of similarity. Gaining one aspect similar and two aspects different, means that the habitat metabolism for the test ponds in the university are truly different. We reject the given hypothesis and accept the alternative hypothesis of the experiment. The alternative hypothesis is that the ecosystem metabolisms in different aquatic systems on campus are not the same. The Periphyton in habitat #2 had the largest values for respiration (R), than the phytoplankton because periphyton has heterotrophic bacteria.

The Phytoplankton had very little respiration because they are autotrophic. Conclusion: With the values acquired from the experiment, the hypothesis was proven wrong, which leaves us to accept the alternative hypothesis. The presence of organisms in various habitats leads to the differences in the ecosystem metabolism of the habitat. Periphyton habitats which were tested pose a degree of difficulty, since it is very limited. But still, there were values acquired for the NPP, R and GPP.

Work Cited:

Cox GW. 001 General Ecology Laboratory Manual. 8th ED. New York: McGraw-Hill. “Geotopics: Ecosystems”. 2004. Internet Geography. April 22 2007. <http://www. geography. learnontheinternet. co. uk/topics/ecosystem. html>. “What Is an Ecosystem? ” Vancouver, Canada, 2002. UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research. April 22 2007. <http://www. ubcbotanicalgarden. org/kids/ecosystem. php>. “What Is an Ecosystem? ” Alberta, Canada, 2006. Heritage Community Foundation. April 22 2007. <http://www. abheritage. ca/abnature/Ecosystems/intro. htm>.

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