A Local Ecosystem Field Trip Report
The ecosystem studied on this field trip was a tidal rock-shelf in Long Reef.
Column Graph Showing the Abundance of 3 Different Organisms in 3 Different Locations.
Animal Distribution and Abundance across Three Different Locations.
Although all three animals represented in my graph above are found in the tidal rock-shelf ecosystem, their distribution is concentrated in certain areas in the ecosystem that they are more comfortable in.
The Little Blue Periwinkle is found in abundance in Location 1 and found slightly in Location 2, but not at all in Location 3. This shows that this organism will more likely be found in Location 1 although it can be found in Location 2.
The Mulberry Whelk was found in abundance in Location 3 and found slightly in Location 2, but not at all in Location 1. This shows that this organism will more likely be found in Location 3 although it can be found in Location 2.
The Waratah Anemone was found in abundance in location 2 and found slightly in Location 3, but not at all in Location 1. This shows that this organism will more likely be found in Location 2 although it can be found in Location 3.
Different Features of Each Location and its Affect on the Distribution and Abundance of the Organisms.
The three different locations used in my research were an area above high tide level, an area at the low tide level, and a tidal rook pool area.
The area above high tide level stays mostly dry for the majority of the day. During high tide however, this area may be sprayed with salt water depending how close it is to the high tide level. Because this area does not have much moisture, animals such as the Little Blue Periwinkle clump together in clusters to help prevent the loss of moisture.
The tidal rock pool area is a constantly changing environment. The water temperature, salinity, and oxygen content fluctuating with the tide. Because this area has a lot of water, it is the perfect environment for the Waratah Anemone.
The area at low tide level is almost always covered by water. This area is only uncovered by water at the lowest of tides. This makes it the ideal environment for the Mulberry Whelk which is why it is not found as profusely in the other two locations as it is here.
The Different Adaptations that Help the Common Brown Kelp and the Mulberry Whelk Survive.
The producer that I choose from my study area was the Common Brown Kelp and it is found in shallow rocky marine reefs. Some adaptations that the Brown Kelp has to help it survive are its colour, air pockets, skin, reproduction and the hold fast. The pigment fucoxanthin (which gives the kelp its brown colour) helps the Kelp survive by enabling it to absorb wavelengths of light to maximise the efficiency of photosynthesis. The air pockets in the fonds of the kelp help it survive by allowing it to float on top of the water, where they can use the light to photosynthesise. The rubbery skin of the Kelp is important as it stops the fonds from drying out. The kelp reproduces by flagellate spores that allow it??™s offspring to become anchored in environments advantageous to their survival. The hold fast in Kelp is an anchoring system that looks a lot like the roots of a normal plant, but they are different in that they do not absorb any nutrients and serve as an anchor for the kelp. It allows them to stay in the area it is most suited to and not float off to places where the conditions may be detrimental to their health.
The consumer I chose was the Mulberry Whelk. The Mulberry Whelk has three main adaptations that help it survive mainly in the low tide area; its tongue, siphon, shell and saliva. The Mulberry Whelk has a saw-like radula tongue that allows it to bore a hole through the shells of its prey. Its saliva also helps in this process by partially dissolving the shell of the prey, making it easier for the Whelks tongue to bore a hole trough the shell. The Mulberry Whelk has a specialised tube called a siphon which allows them to pick up chemical signals left by their prey allowing the Whelk to locate their prey (and consume them) faster. The Whelks shell is also very thick, which helps protect it from other predators.
Description of the Blue-Lined Octopus.
The Blue-lined Octopus, Hapalochlaena fasciata, is found from Southern Queensland to Southern New South Wales, and reported to be one of the most dangerous animals in the sea. It is quite small though and lives in swallow costal waters, rocky reefs and near seagrass beds.
Bright blue ring and dark blue lines appear on the octopus when it feels threatened or it is disturbed. These rings and lines fade slowly as the threat passes and are thought to be a warning to other predators that the octopus is venomous.
The Blue-lined Octopus feeds mostly on crustaceans and small fish. It catches its prey in 2 different ways; by injecting its neurotoxin (a toxin that attacks the nervous system) directly into the animal (with its beak), or by spraying the neurotoxin into the water near the animal and waiting for it to become paralysed before consuming it. Salivary enzymes break down the prey before it is swallowed, meaning some external digestion takes place before the animal being eaten is swallowed.
The Octopus obtains oxygen from the constant water flow over its gills. When the Octopus is at rest, it only extracts 60% of oxygen from the water.
The Blue-Lined Octopus mates while carrying the male on the head of the female. The male uses a modified tentacle or ???arm??? to deposit sperm into the body cavity of a female. The female then plaits her eggs into strings and will carry them until they hatch.
Two Trophic Interactions between Organisms
Two trophic interactions found between organisms in the tidal rock-shelf system are the Algae (producer) being eaten by the Limpets (consumer) and the Crab (consumer) being eaten by the Octopus (secondary consumer).
Algae are one of the simplest plants in terms of their structure. They derive their nutrients from the seawater and their energy from the sun using photosynthesis. The Limpets travel slowly over the rocks, grazing on microscopic algae and some larger seaweed. As the Algae are producers (and plants), they are unable to defend themselves from the slow moving Limpets, who are herbivores.
The Octopus uses its 8 sucker-bearing arms to feed on crabs, lobsters and other organisms. As the crabs are extremely sensitive to movement and vibrations, the octopus propels itself through the water by squirting water through the siphon above it head, allowing it to catch it??™s prey.
Table on Human Activities and their Affects on the Tidal Rock-Shelf Ecosystem
|Human Activity |Impact on Ecosystem |Strategies/Regulations to reduce damage from human activities |
|Climate Change |The rising waters caused by climate change |Humans are already aware of the impacts of global warming and |
| |can cause the sea levels to rise, changing |climate change and are continuously encouraged to lower their |
| |the tidal zones and the environments of the |emissions of greenhouse gasses. They are also encouraged to use|
| |organisms living there. |other forms of energy such as solar and wind energy as opposed |
| | |to the energy gained from burning fossil fuels. |
|Pollution |As oil floats on water, pollution such as oil|There are certain regulations in place for large oil carrying |
| |spills can leave a thick coating on top of |ships to prevent disasters like BP??™s oil spill from recurring, |
| |the water. As sunlight is unable to penetrate|such as the material the boats hull is made out of. There are |
| |through this layer, producers such as kelp |also certain areas that large ships are not allowed to travel |
| |can no longer survive in that area. |through to help protect the ecosystem. |
|Fishing |Many people fish on tidal rock-shelves and |Many coasts have limitations on the amount of organisms that |
| |collect bait from this area. Having people |can be removed from the environment for bait. There are also |
| |wandering around this environment, |certain sizes fish must be for you to keep them. This is to |
| |manhandling/removing the organisms that live |stop the fishing of baby fish. Also areas where very rare or |
| |there can be detrimental to the health and |endangered organisms live can be tied off, stopping humans from|
| |survival of may species that live here. |disturbing the organism??™s natural habitat any further. |
Not available, Reefcare, discover long reef and enjoy nature, Reefcare, 2009, 27/5/2011, http://www.reefcarelongreef.org.au/
Not available, Wikipedia; the free encyclopaedia, Wikimedia Foundation Inc, constantly updated, 25/5/2011, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
Spencer and Anne, Marvellous Molluscs, PBWorks, March 2011, 28/5/2011, http://rjfisherjoanides.pbworks.com/w/page/36528120/Mollusks-2
Not available, Blue-lined Octopus, Australian Museum, 23/5/2010, 21/5/2011, http://australianmuseum.net.au/Blue-lined-Octopus
ID1117644214, How do you write a bibliography entry for a website, WikiAnswers, copyrighted 2011, 31/5/2011, http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_write_a_bibliography_entry_for_a_website