Homework Outdoor Activity

21 Aug No Comments

Unit IV Homework

This activity can be completed in your backyard, in your office yard, a nearby park, an urban green space, or anywhere you can get a little bit of nature under your feet!

Now that you have learned about food webs and biodiversity, you will explore the environment “in your own backyard.” It may be easiest to print out this sheet and take it with you to complete the assignment. You can always record your answers on a separate piece of paper while outside and then bring them back to your computer to type in your responses afterward.

Scientists are trained to take very detailed notes when they head out into the field. This is because all of the information you can collect could be important to analyzing your data in the future. It is important to be descriptive and even use drawings if you need to make sure your data is as complete as possible.

Part I (4 points each = 28 points)

The first thing scientists record when out in the field is general data. You will practice this by filling in the information below.

Date: 21 May, 2019

Location (City, State, Country): Red River Army Depot 18 miles west of Texarkana, Texas, USA

Time of day: 9:27am

Temperature outside (estimate if you don’t have a phone with capabilities or a thermometer around): 78F

Weather (e.g., rainy, humid, dry, cloudy, sunny, overcast): Partly sunny, windy, humid, and dry. Rain in the forecast starting at 1pm.

Number of people around: 0 nearby, approx. 3-4 passersby within 100 yard radius.

Describe the space/habitat (Is it a prairie? Does it have tall grasses, are there a lot of trees, or is it near water or a city?): Grassy combination of tall and mowed grass with piney woods nearby, approx. 50 yards away. A fairly large drainage ditch nearby that holds water except in the driest of droughts. Roads, buildings, and parking lots make up half of the area within a 100 yard radius.

Part II (20 points)

Now, let’s do some exploring and observing. Sit down on the soil, and take a closer look. Do you see small insects? Do you notice different types of grasses, weeds, and small flowers? Yes, mosquitos, gnats, flies, beetles, wasps, ants, and other small insects can be seen. There are many different types of grass, weeds, and clover. There a lot of wildflowers on the other side of the fence where the mowers couldn’t get to.

Take a few minutes to identify everything you can in the area. (Set a maximum time to about 15 minutes). Record what you find in the table below, and remember to be as descriptive as possible.

In the section “Label of what you found,” identify as best you can what it is you are looking at. Is it a plant (grass, weed, tree, flower), reptile, amphibian, insect, arachnid (spider), mammal, or bird? Do you know what species it is? You can use resources to help you identify what you find. If you are in the United States, download the iNaturalist app, and you can use field guides on the app to help identify what you see. If you are at a park, at the visitor center, there may be field guide pamphlets or online pamphlets to help with identifications. You can also try finding field guides for your area online. (Type the following terms into Google: “field guide to plants, butterflies, or whatever you’re looking at in [insert the place you are]”). Be as specific as possible.

In the description column, describe what it is. How tall is it? What distinguishing features does it have? Does it have a scent? Does it have a color?

In the last column, count how many of that species you see in the area.

You are filling in the table with what you find. Your grade is based on the quality of filling in the details of the table (label, description, and how many found). You will need to include at least five species.

Label of what you foundDescriptionHow many found
Pine trees (plant)(Pinus)Brown flakey bark, with new green growth needles, 40-50 ft highApprox. 50
Dutch Clover (plant)(Trifolium repens)Lots of green 3 leaf covers, no 4 leaves though, white spherical flowersApprox. 200 square feet
Grass (plant)(Poaceae)Long green blades (8 inches) that grow in clusters within the weed covered gravel driveway.Approx. 4 acres
Fire Ants (insects)(Solenopsis)Small red, medium red, six legs, small heads, big mandibles>1,000
Beetle (insects)(Stenomorphus californicus)Black, 1 cm long, six legs, fast moving1
Starlings (birds)(Sturnis Vulgaris)Medium sized, black w/speckles, yellow beak, orange feet.2 + babies I couldn’t see
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Part III (2 points each = 16 points)

You will now build two food chains using what you found. You may not find all parts of the food chain as seeing top trophic levels are more rare than seeing primary producers. In that case, think about what would live in this habitat, look for signs of these animals (e.g., tracks, burrows, nests), and fill in the chart with what you think would be there.

 Primary ProducerPrimary ConsumerSecondary ConsumerTertiary Consumer
Exampleoak treeinchwormfield mousehawk
1grassgrass hopperfrogsnake
2pine tree (nut)squirrelsnakehog

Questions (36 pts)

1. In this unit, we looked at threats to biodiversity. Describe what is affecting the biodiversity in the area you are in? What natural or man-made disturbances have happened in the area? How could the biodiversity increase in the area? Your response should be at least 200 words in length.




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