Wednesday, September 15, 2010
We finished up biome notes today by discussing salt marshes and tidal flats, mangroves, and the photic vs. aphotic.
Salt Marshes are one of the most productive ecosystems, but nothing eats the salt marsh grass when its alive... once the anaerobic bacteria break it down into black mush, then other organisms eat it.
Photic vs Aphotic is an odd one involving the light and dark zones of the ocean. Some organisms hide in teh dark aphotic zone during the day and migrate up to the surface (the photic zone) at night to eat the phytoplankton. Predators also migrate to eat the things that are eating the phytoplankton.
We finished class with a partner challenge identifying and classifying the biomes by their characteristics. The top score went to Elijah and Jeremiah.
The Unit 3 Test will be on Friday. Packets will be due at that time.
Monday, September 13, 2010
We also discussed sea grass beds. Sea grass is super-important for stabilizing the substrate and holding the sand down. This promotes water clarity and decreases turbidity. Nothing eats sea grass when it is alive except for manatees. Everything else eats it after the bacteria have decomposed it a bit.
One of the weird- est, but also most inter- esting is Whalefall. Whalefall is when a dead whale settles to the bottom of the ocean and organisms move in to feed on the carcass until even the bones are decomposed. Hagfish are a dominant scavenger as well as bacteria. It may not seem like a big deal, but this biome boasts over 160 species that are not found on the surrounding benthos. More info can be found at the link above, or here. Listen to a podcast here.
Deep sea benthos is another biome and it is pretty boring. Its a gooey squishy substrate populated by some dd scavengers, but there is not a high biodiversity and not a lot of food to eat.
Not all biomes are found at the bottom of the sea. Along coasts you can find rocky coasts, sandy beaches, salt marshes, mangroves, sea grass beds, kelp forests, and fouling communities.
I think fouling communities are really interesting... because all these organisms need is a hard substrate (surface) to stick on. This could be a dock, a pier, a boat, or anything that's in the water long enough. Most people have seen all the 'stuff' growing on the pole legs of piers and docks, but don't really think of the variety of organisms that grow there - or their importance. Most of these organisms are filter feeders and do a lot for water quality. They also break down the surfaces like scavengers... not something we want for our boats and docks we use, but important nonetheless.
There is a lot of information to learn this unit. The Unit 3 Test is one of the hardest of the year, and it will be on Friday.
Friday, September 10, 2010
The spray zone is one of the hardest areas to live in because of the huge changes in salinity and temperature.
|This is the crown of thorns and you can see the white skeleton of the coral it has consumed on the bottom.|
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Today students were responsible for making observations of seaweed, both fresh (thanks Mel and Carol for sending us some) and dried. I have a variety of brown algaes, but Mrs. R sent over some red seaweed for us to look at as well.
Students also made plankton observations using water from the pond behind the school. There were a variety of phytoplankton (green) and some zooplankton (mostly clear and moving). The zooplankton are usually around pond detritus because that's what they eat. On one slide we found a huge clear wormy plankton oozing and snaking its way through the detritus as it ate. It was so big I couldn't even put the microscope on the highest objective.
1 - Delafayette - Epic Flyer - 19.6 s
2 - Micheal - Spirit of Sinkyton - 4.5 s
3 - Noel - Noel Plankton - 4.18
Kaitlin - Four Eyes - 4.12
Jacob - Big Daddy Snorkelton - 4s
|Eli-peezy and Joe Blow - both disqualified "floaters"|
|Delafayette's Epic Flyer and Corrin's Luscious Lips plankton.|
|Jessica waits to see if Twirly is going to sink|
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Students learned about the three types of seaweed. Seaweed and algae are the same thing and they are classified by pigment type - red, brown, or green. Red seaweeds are the most common, but we don't see a lot of them because they like tropical waters and deep waters. Brown algae is the most common seaweed on our coast, whereas green algae is the most common in the freshwater of Virginia. Tomorrow students will make observations of seaweed to look for air bladders and other special adaptations.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Another easy way to classify plankton is into plants and animals. Phytoplankton are tiny plants that photosynthesize and make their own food. Zooplankton (belong in the the zoo) and are animal plankton.
This is my favorite website about plankton and it is where all my photos come from. Check out the other types of meroplankton.
Students have drawn their own plankton, tried to match meroplankton to the adult forms, and are currently designing plankton to compete in the Plankton Grand Prix - where the object is to sink slowly.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Giant clams have a mutual relationship with tiny zooxanthellae algae that live in their tissues. The clams provide a home and some nutrients to the zoox algae. The zoox algae give the giant clams their pretty colors and help give them food by photosynthesizing.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
We have done challenges looking at large photos and making educated guesses. We matched vocabulary cards and did puzzles to make sure we understood terminology (as well as getting observed by half a dozen teachers and administrators). We have worked on review sheets, colored fish, and made sure vocabulary was done.
Parrotfish are part of the nekton because they swim. They are omnivores because they eat coral (animal) and algae (plants). This fish is a male because it is more colorful than its female counterpart. Some may consider this warning coloration because it will chomp on things that try to mess with it. An odd part of their niche is that the coral they digest is where most of the white sand in tropical locations comes from.
Computer Lab Etiquette
You are in the computer lab to do work for this class. If you are not doing work, then we will have problems.
Do not pack up early. Work until the bell or until MsJ says.
SAVE OFTEN. And if you save to a key, also save it to your number. If you lose it, you will have to do it again.
If MsJ asks for your attention, stop what you are doing and listen to what she has to say.
You may watch videos about your organism through reliable websites.
You may listen to music through the computer if you have your own headphones. Rule1 MsJ cannot hear it. You get one warning. Rule2 Turn it on and listen – no million clicks and constant changing. Take both ear phones out when MsJ is talking.