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To facilitate you pulling all the concepts of this course together and in lieu of a midterm exam you will create a systems diagram of an ecosystem of your choice accompanied by a written narrative describing the system in detail.   To go about this assignment:

a.  select an ecological system… agricultural fields… wetlands.. local parks… your favorite area to hike… family farm/ranch… any ecological system you can visit.. take pictures on your visit.

b.  make a list of detailed list biotic and abiotic components in that system.

c.  make a list of interactions among those biotic and abiotic components

d.  make a list of controls of the interactions between the biotic and abiotic components

e.  draw a diagram of the system… components connected by interactions and controls. (see examples below)

f. write a narrative explaining the systems diagram… including a section on what might happen in the system if there were a disturbance such as fire or invasive species.

It is critical that you include many of the concepts conveyed in the first 4 weeks of this course… use the correct terminology.   Matter of fact, I highly recommend you go through each week and note how all the concepts relate to your selected ecosystem.

This assignment will be graded on how thoroughly and accurately you’ve covered your ecosystem in relation to the concepts we’ve covered.

Your final project should include:

  • systems diagram (See attachments – example 2,3,4)
  • written narrative describing the systems diagram IN DETAIL, and in this written narrative pictures you took on your visit to the site should be referenced and included as inline pictures (placed within the narrative) or an appendix of pictures.

Note this is NOT an artistic exercise.  Do not draw a picture, but rather a diagram of a systems components and call out interactions and controls.  Think about the water and nutrient cycles – think about individual species biology, population ecology and community ecology, then think about disturbance in your system.  You are not expected to cover everything in your system, but it is expected that your submission reflect that you spent time thinking about your system.

System Diagram Write up of My Home Property
The system that I based my model on was of my property. In this system I found
many different types of interactions. From the predators on the property to the
herbivores, it was interesting to see how they all had some sort of connection to each
others survival.
In this system I included most of the things I observed but did not include
everything as they would not all fit on the diagram. Starting with the pond on the
property, the pond provides water to all the animals in the area as well as irrigation for
In the pond are a lot of fish that feed on the plants in the water as well as the frogs that
line the border. Frequently although not shown in this picture, a heron can be found
preying on the fish in the water. This pond also provides water for the trees and plants
below it as it leaks out through the ground and into the plants root systems.
Another component that I photographed was the trees that line the property.
These trees provide shelter for many different animals and insects. The insects and
wind in the area help pollinate the trees in exchange.
The trees take the C02 created by the animals in the area and convert it into oxygen
which the animals then breathe. The trees also take in the sun for use of photosynthesis
to create food and energy for themselves. Another component in this system is the
predators. Although these two animals are not the coyotes described in the diagram,
they are still carnivores who hunt for mice, squirrels, and other small prey.
All the animals on the property contribute into the system in someway. The dogs eat
other small prey and in turn create organic matter which help plants grow.
Insects are another large part of the system and can be found most everywhere.
Insects help pollinate the plants in the area such as the crops and berrys shown in the
diagram. Insects also
provide a source of food for
the birds in the area such as
the turkeys that roam our
fields. These turkeys are
often times dinner for the
coyotes in the area as well.
After the coyotes are done
eating them they are turned
into organic matter and are
put into the soil and help the
crops grow. Those crops that
grow are then eaten by other
If a fire was to break out in the area, the system would change drastically for
quite some time. If the trees were destroyed, there would not be a place for the birds to
sleep and nest and they birds may leave all together. The grass and other plants that
fed the animals would all be gone forcing the animals to leave the area as they would
no longer have any food. If all the herbivores were to leave then all of the carnivores
would leave because their food source would leave. The fish in the water would most
likely not be affected by the fire and there fore the animals that fed on the fish such as
the heron could still use the area for hunting. Eventually the natural process of
succession would bring

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