2.5 Investigating Ecosystems
What? How Many? Where? Why? These are the questions that an ecologist is attempting to answer when they are studying a research site. I believe the best way to teach this sub-topic is through practical application. These techniques will also be very important to have completed prior to beginning the Independent Investigation as the focus on sampling strategies may be relevant to many different types of study.
We start by focusing on locating and describing our ecosystems then identifying the organisms we find. Sampling strategies must be discussed and students should be able to choose the appropriate strategy for purpose for both measuring biotic and abiotic factors.
Techniques for measuring biomass and energy at trophic levels should be considered in their use in constructing ecological pyramids.
Methods for estimating the abundance of non-motile organisms and direct and indirect methods for estimating the abundance of motile organisms should be compared and evaluated.
Species richness and species diversity can be used to compare systems.
Students need to know how to study different ecosystem types. This has meant that you might have to vary your planned fieldwork. I have had to change my fieldwork plans for this reason.
- The description and investigation of ecosystems allows for comparisons to be made between different ecosystems and for them to be monitored, modelled and evaluated over time, measuring both natural change and human impacts.
- Ecosystems can be better understood through the investigation and quantification of their components.
Recommended Teaching Time (not including practicals): 4 hours