Biotic factors, the living factors being other organisms that are part of an individual’s ecosystem. These other organisms may compete with individuals for food or other resources. These factors affect the distribution of various species and the abundance of a species. So called living nature is an aggregate of a large variety of different species, a mixture of plants and animals. The theory of evolution states that all animals derived from a simple prokaryotic organism to the prokaryotes and complex eukaryotes seen today. Ecology (from the greek oikos “home” and logos “to study”) is the study of these organisms, their environment and interactions between the two. Ecology comprises a large variety of different studies, one being biodiversity. Biodiversity can be defined as the assortment of animal and plant species in the world, or in a particular ecosystem.
The biosphere is defined as the sum of all the planets communities and ecosystems, or the entire portion of earth which is inhabited by life. The world’s terrestrial ecosystems are generally divided through climate, into biomes. These create girdle like divisions on the earth. Although biomes are often named for the prevalent vegetation they are also characterized by microorganisms, fungi, etc.. Stockholm (the area studied) is located in the taiga region. This biome is mostly composed of coniferous forest and is characterized by long, cold winters with short and wet summers. In the Stockholm region the soil is calcareous which has great effect on the ecosystem, since it is dependent on the ground and its organisms. Soil is mainly made up of mineral soil which has emerged through weathering of bedrock. It is the chemical composition and particle size of the mineral soil that determines the soils fertility. The grounds lime content also has great importance for vegetation. Calcareous soils result in more species rich and lush vegetation compared to the quartz-rich soils. Lime works partly directly like nutrition for the plants and also indirectly through increasing the grounds pH. Development of bacterial flora and earthworms favors a pH level around neutral (between 6 & 8). These are a good source of nutrition for organisms and they in other ways benefits the habitat. Domestic livestock is a prominent factor in ecosystem modifications, it has prevalent impact on soil, habitat and wildlife dynamics. Livestock grazing affects biodiversity and ecosystem services (which are benefits humans obtain from ecosystems) across all biomes, especially considering that more than 25% of the planets land is used for grazing.
Herbivores are selective in their grazing and consequently they directly affect the species composition when feeding. Selective grazing reduces the competitive capability of the chosen plants and decreases the competition for the ungrazed species. Tramping also indiscriminately damage plants and therefore reduces their reproductive and competitive ability. Animals can also decrease seed and flower production by consuming the reproductive systems of plants, 20
We also found the same moss and grass as before Observations: The forest was placed on a hill and had an aspect which sloped towards the east. It was obviously quite a lot of shadows because of the trees. There was no real sign of any organisms in the area but because of the conditions predictions can be made. Temperature: 14.98°C pH: 6.45 Moisture: 3.92 (moisture units) Prediction and own observations showed that the ground was quite moist due to rain the previous night. Therefore the results are quite surprising even given that two squares we investigated were located in direct sunlight GRAZING LAND / investigative spot number 2
Observations: The landscape was very flat and could be described to have no aspect and in general the landscape was quite open and therefore it was exposed to the sunlight. There was animal excrement which was the only sign of organisms we observed. Temperature: 15.8°C pH: 7 Moisture: 1 (moisture units) Predictions and observation was that the soil was quite dry since the grazing land was located in direct sunlight DISCUSSION All ecosystems are built on levels, so called trophic levels and food webs. All throughout these food chains or webs energy is present. The production of the energy takes place in the first level through photosynthesis. At every consumer level a large amount of energy is lost and put towards heat, respiration and excretion, it is said that only about 90% of the energy is lost at each level and this is a contributing factor to why there are almost never more than four levels to a food chain. Considering the general look of the area, vegetation (which supported our hypothesis that it was a “blåbärsskog”) and previous experience with the same type of forest an approximate food web can be constructed, it would look something like this:
The most important abiotic factors which impact the distribution of many species are: Temperature which affects the biological processes, furthermore many organisms do not have the ability to regulate their own body temperature and are depend on the temperature of their habitat. Water availability. Water is essential to life but its accessibility varies dramatically among habitats. Which results in species settling in the terrestrial environment are almost under a constant threat of dehydration. Almost all ecosystems are driven by the energy produced by plants which are dependent by the amount of sunlight. Although sunlight is only directly needed by plants and photosynthetic organisms the availability affects the whole ecosystem. The distribution of plants and therefore the animals that feed on them are is dependent on the rock and soil of a habitat. The physical structure, pH and mineral composition are all factors contributing to the fertility of the soil. With this information the reasoning behind placing the species on the food web can be explained. By considering the vegetation (which has to do with the rock & soil and sunlight availability) we found and based on the animals diet and preferred habitat (which has to do with temperature and overall look of the area we studied) it could be determined that there was a high probability of finding these species in the ecosystem which we studied. It is also a supporting factor that we’ve seen these organism in forests with the same conditions. The red squirrel is most often considered a herbivore since it mainly feeds on leaves, seeds and such. However squirrels can also have carnivorous tendencies when necessary, in times of need they can for example resort to eating eggs and insects. The european pine vole is also considered an omnivore, it feeds on plants and fungi but also occasionally on insects. A herbivore found on the web is the european hare, it feeds on young grass shoots and herbs. These three species can all be found in various habitats, such as in coniferous forests. Roe deer and woodpeckers are animals which prefer woodland and forests and are very common in northern Europe. Roe deer usually feed on herbs, ivy, heather, blueberry and coniferous tree shoots. While as the woodpeckers diet is based on insects. One of the more common predators in Sweden is the red fox, it is found all throughout Europe and prefers a mixture of landscapes. The red fox is a carnivore and feeds on mice, voles, hares and birds. Because of the pH in the ground, 6.45, you can also be expected to find as I wrote in the introduction, earthworms and bacterial flora. Some of the benefits of earthworms in the environment are: They like decomposers “recycle” organic material By decomposing organic material and trough their excretion they increase nutrient availability in the ground They are seen as prey for many animals, such as birds, which increases the probability of finding birds in the habitat
The grazing land also had quite rich vegetation. We found the leaves of meadow buttercup, clovers, german chamomile and mostly grass. Meadow buttercup is avoided by livestock due to its high ranunculin content. The plant is when eaten raw poisonous and can cause inflammation in the digestive system. German chamomile is not consumed either because of its unappetizing taste. It is therefore not surprising to find these plants in the location.
Nevertheless it was surprising to find as much grass and clovers as we did, since these are prefered food. However we were told that the sheep had been grazing there last year which means the grass and clovers had grown. The grazing would therefore have no real effect on the abundance of the species since the plants would have grown back – but rather on diversity.
So all in all we can confirm that that there was a larger diversity among the vegetation in the forest compared to the grazing land, in the quadrants we studied. What we can not confirm but can speculate about is the diversity among animals in the two locations. Expectantly there would be a larger diversity among larger animals in the woods since it provides more protection against the element, e.g wind and sunlight. However there would probably be more diversity among insects and smaller organism, such as bacteria, in the grazing land, due to the amount of feces located all in one place. Only based on the amount of insects we saw this would be true.
The fact that there was less vegetation diversity in the grazing land probably has to do with the fact that, as mentioned, livestock chooses what they eat and therefore disable the competitive and reproductive abilities of those species and releases others from competition. Some plants are also trampled and makes it hard for some plants to establish. As said almost no species were found in both locations (except moss and lichen), this has to to with the different conditions. The forest was shadowy and had moist ground and the grazing land was in direct sunlight and the ground was very dry.
To expand on the study and to make the results more accurate the quadrants should have been made bigger and/or more than three quadrant should have been made. This would would result in a better idea of the diversity in the location rather than looking at a small number of different species found. Looking at the location more times and during different seasons would also result in a better discussion, as this would demonstrate the effect of temperature and sunlight on the vegetation. Having a book on flora out in the field would definitely have help when identifying the vegetation, instead of (like now) trying to identify them though descriptions and pictures.
Searching for feces or other signs of animals (such as dead organisms or bone) would be a good way of determining the animal species living the area or it would result in better reasoning behind speculations. This would have great effect when discussing the animal diversity and would therefore be a major factor in concluding whether the diversity was greater in one area..
Lastly the best way to completely overcome bias would be to choose quadrant beforehand, before seeing the location. This could have been done through a map. Since when you are at site you chose where to put quadrants depending on the amount of effort needed to get to the place. For example during this study our three quadrants were placed very close to each other since it was easier but this also meant we were not exposed to the complete diversity.
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