Friday, October 29, 2010

A Final Response

Through this experience, I have learned many things about my surrounding habitat. From learning how to reduce my carbon footprint to actually being able to identify native Michigan trees, this has been a very interesting and beautiful study for me. I enjoyed having a reason to get outside and to go somewhere other than my backyard. It was amazing to be able to see the Red Maple in its prime.
Some things are learned were how to identify native Michigan trees, learn about fungi biodiversity (like the Chicken Mushroom - it's suppose to be surprisingly tasty!), and the difference between biotic and abiotic organisms. Though I didn't necessarily learn how to, I also had a fun time cleaning up the shore on Reed's Lake with my friend Joyce. I also learned how to reduce my carbon footprint and discovered the relationship between species in my plot (such as parasitism.) Producers and consumers, food webs and the levels in ecosystems were other things I learned about.
I believe I will use my new knowledge to help better the community and the earth as a whole in terms of educating people about nature and changing my lifestyle to support natural habitats. My family will be affected by new habits of trying to preserve the environment and I will most definitely be visiting woods and other nature areas much more.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Seasonal Changes

For my native Michigan tree, I chose a beautiful big Red Maple. A magnificent sight, it reaches probably at least 30 feet, towering over many of the other trees and its crown spreading in every direction. With a darker colored bark, it explodes with color, as the leaves change almost directly from green to bright, bright red. (I can't collect the leaves because we're not suppose to at Bunker Nature Preserve. So I have lots of pictures.) This is a collection of pictures of seasonal changes of my Red Maple and from around my plot, including the swamp.
Overview of my plot from a far-off distance.

Some of the beautiful wildflowers- amazing that they're still in bloom.

A changing beech tree. It has turned almost completely yellow and the leaves are starting to brown and fall.

Changing treetops and amazing scenery.

The swamp- surprisingly gorgeous.

It was like walking through a sea of gold.

Another view of the swamp and surrounding scenery. 
Magnificent Red Maple.

Backing up to attempt to see the top of the tree...

Leaves changing- they almost change directly from green to red.

Massive stump of the Red Maple.

Capturing the amazing color of the Red Maple.

A Red Maple leaf, with characteristic red stem.

Close up view of the bark of the Red Maple.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Producers and Consumers

This is a list of producers and consumers inhabit my plot, or at least most likely inhabit my plot. (Some specifics were taken from a brochure for the Bunker Nature Center.)
- Duckweed
- Green Algae
- Meadow grass
- Red Maple
- Wildflowers
- Poison Ivy
- Birch trees
- Water meal
- Virginia Creeper a.k.a. Woodbine
- Spicebush
- Dogwood
- Sassafras
- Glossy Buckthron
- Earthworms: detrivore
- Chipmunks: herbivore
- Squirrels: herbivore
- Bumblebees: herbivore
- Snakes (mostly Garter): carnivore 
- Hawks: carnivore
- Rabbits: herbivore
- Mice: herbivore
- Spiders: carnivore
- Fungi (like Chicken Mushroom!): decomposer
- Owls: carnivore
- Fox: omnivore
- Deer: herbivore
- Woodpecker: omnivore
- Skunks: omnivore
- Ducks: omnivore
- Frogs: omnivore
- Great Blue Heron: carnivore
- Salamanders: omnivore
- Cardinals: omnivore
- Chickadees: omnivore
- Fish: omnivore

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Biodiversity: Fungi

Chicken Mushroom, Laetiporus sulphureus, in the Polyporaceae and Aphyllophorales classifications. Its season is May through November. Its habitat is on stumps, trunks, logs of dead deciduous trees, it has also been found on the trunk and roots of living trees.
Turkey-tail, Trametes versicolor, in the Polyporaceae and Aphyllophorales families. Season is May- December, inhabiting dead deciduous trees or wounds, it has also been found on conifers. 
Crowded Parchment, Stereum complicatum, belonging in the Stereaceae and Aphyllophorales classifications. Its season is July through January and overwinters, found on dead deciduous trunks, logs and twigs.

A close- up of Crowded Parchment.
This is Mossy Maple Polypore, Oxyporus populinus, belonging to the Polyporaceae and Aphyllophorales families. Its season is year round and is usually found on wounds on the trunks of living maples, also found on other deciduous trees.

 This is most likely Pendulous-disc Polypore, Porodisculus pendulus, classified in the Polyporaceae and Aphyllophorales families. Its season is August to October, and typically is found on dead oak, hickory, walnut wood, and has also been found on pine.
These are samples on a larger log and another sample I found on a small twig.      
Citation: Lincoff, Gary H. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1981. 468-96. Print.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Plot Community

There are many interactions that go on between organisms on my plot. Here are the five interactions I will focus on: competition, predation, symbiosis- mutualism, symbiosis- commensalism, and symbiosis- parasitism (all on my plot, of course.)
- Small snakes feeding on small rodents, worms, insects, etc.
- Fish eating algae, weeds, pond plants and more.
- Birds and other organisms feed on the great variety and population of worms.
- Different types of birds competing for prime spots for a nest, whether between species or a single species.
- Trees compete for the ground space and below to spread their roots and get the most sunlight.
- Squirrels and Chipmunks (and other nut eating creatures) compete for the same nut supply.
Symbiosis- Parasitism:
- Termites infesting a native tree on my plot.
- Some fungus is harmful to trees, plants, and other organisms I have seen it grow on.
Symbiosis- Mutualism:
- Between native flowers and bees: the bees get nectar while the flowers get pollinated.
- There is also a relationship between worms and the field grass, the field grass dies and is decomposed into dirt by the worms, which is good for them, and the fresh dirt helps new grass grow.
Symbiosis- Commensalism:
- Several birds build nests in the great trees.
- Now while it may be accidental because squirrels really just have small brains, both squirrels and chipmunks bury nuts and forget to get them, thus helping a new tree to grow.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Plot is an Ecosystem

There are several levels of organization in ecosystems. Here are some of the things that fit into these categories that are on my plot:
- Chipmunks
- Squirrels
- Snakes
- Bunny rabbits
- A nest of snakes
- A dray of squirrels
- A colony of bunny rabbits
- A scurry/ sweet of chipmunks
- The group of living organisms on my plot/ other people's plots
- Families of several people on a farm with pets
- All living organisms in Lake Michigan
- My plot (all biotic and abiotic organisms)
- A neighborhood
- An entire city in the middle of Minnesota
Then there are several different bio-zones such as temperate zone, arctic zone, tropical zone, etc. These are all encompassed into one world, our biosphere.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Trash Patrol!

Today I went on trash patrol. Now, normally I would be cleaning up my own plot. However, with my plot being exquisite because it is located in the Bunker Nature Center, I went and cleaned up a place by Reed's Lake. It was mostly located behind the East Grand Rapids Middle School soccer field on the shore of a small stretch of shore, where there was quite a bit of trash. My friend, Joyce, and I cleaned this area up, filling one trash bag and starting another by the time we had to leave. One interesting thing that happened was that I got partially caught in a thorn bush. There were also lots of burrs, bushes and trees with dozens of roots. This was a good experience, though next time I might bring gloves. (Pictures will be up soon, they were not taken with my camera so for now I must have a signature.)