Your Ecology IQ
ABOUT THIS ISSUE
Published by: The Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia
Prepared and Issued by THE DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
with the cooperation of the Division of Education
Editor: John Breukelman
Associate Editor: Robert J. Boles
Editorial Committee: Ina M. Borman, Robert F. Clarke, Gilbert A. Leisman, Bernadette Menhusen, David F. Parmelee, Carl W. Prophet
Online format by: Terri Weast
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Your Ecology IQ
Ecology is defined as the study of the relationships of living things to each other and to their nonliving environment. Under this definition we are all ecologists in some way or other.
Our forefathers were guilty of violating many of the fundamental relationships during the first several hundred years of our country's history. Sometimes this was due to ignorance, but often it was due to a willful disregard for basic principles. Perhaps our pioneer ancestors can be forgiven, considering their struggle for survival in a rough, new land, and the lack of a general understanding of ecology. Unfortunately, we today have often failed to profit by the experiences of the past, and are still committing acts for which we, or our children, will have to pay a price. How well are you qualified to discuss, and vote upon, such problems as water and soil conservation' pollution, and the establishment and control of natural areas? An understanding of some of the interrelationships that exist in nature will help you to make more intelligent decisions when confronted with such issues.
This issue of The Kansas School Naturalist is designed to test your knowledge of some of the basic principles of ecology, such as plant and animal distribution, migration, productivity, the food "web," and intra- and interspecific competition. Most of the questions are of the multiple choice type, where you select the best answer from the possible answers provided. There are also some "thought" questions, for which you are to formulate a logical answer.
The answers, some suggestions as to activities you might do, and a list of references in the field of ecology will be found at the back of this issue.
THE WATER CYCLE
The moving of moisture from the seas onto the land and back to the seas is referred to as the water cycle, or hydrologic cycle, some features of which are shown in Figure 1.
1. The ultimate source of energy to operate the water cycle is the:
A. wind, B. sun, C. force of gravity, D. energy of evaporation, E . tides.
2. One of the greatest losses of water from the land is by transpiration. Which letter in the above diagram indicates the area of greatest transpiration?
3. Which letter in the above diagram indicates the water table?
Figure 2 represents a cross section of a deep lake in the midwest, showing the "thermal stratification" that frequently occurs.
4. Where will the warmest water be located in the winter, when the air temperature is below freezing?
A. at the top, B. in the middle, C. at the bottom, D. anywhere except at the top.
5. Where will the coldest water be in the summer?
A. epilimnion, B. thermocline, C. hypolimnion, D. any of these
6. At what time of year is such stratification least likely to occur?
A. spring, B. summer, C. autumn, D. winter
Figure 3 is a map of the major precipitation and vegetation zones of the United States.
7. The great grasslands of the United State are located primarily in which zone?
8. Which letter indicates the part of the United States that might expect to receive less than 20 inches of rainfall annually?
9. Four of the five zones include great flyways of migratory waterfowl used by these birds as they move from their nesting grounds to their wintering grounds and back each year. Which zones does not include a major flyway?
10. Zone A has the mildest average temperatures. This is due to: A. its distance from the Great Lakes, B. ocean currents, C. the high mountain chain parallel to the coast, D. careful planning by Chambers of Commerce, E. heat produced by the many large industries that have been established along the west coast.
Certain types of plants have a beneficial effect on the soil because they increase the supply of usable nitrogen in the soil, a process often referred to as "nitrogen fixation."
11. Which of the plants shown in Figure 4 would you be most likely to grow for the purpose of restoring soil nitrogen?
12. Nitrogen is converted to usable form by this plan t, because it: A. contains chlorophyll and can make its own food, B. has long, deeply penetrating roots, C. grows throughout the summer, D. lives in a mutualistic partnership with certain species of bacteria, E. does not use nitrogen itself, thus leaving it all for other plants.
PYRAMID OF NUMBERS
The pyramid of numbers is an important ecological concept, which refers to the numbers of producers, primary consumers (herbivores) and secondary consumers (carnivores) in an area. Figure 5 shows a pyramid of the type often used in books on chapters on ecology.
13. At what level of the pyramid do the animals show the greatest tendency toward gregariousness, that is, toward living in large groups, such as flocks or herds?
14. At what level were the bison that once roamed over the prairies of Kansas?
15. At what level are the coyotes that now roam over the prairies?
The development and arrangement of the teeth of a mammal comprise one of the important adaptations that permit it to take its place in the food pyramid. Which of the skulls shown in Figure 6 shows teeth characteristic of:
16. a top carnivore in the food pyramid?
17. a mammal that includes both plant and animal matter in its diet?
18. a ruminant that prefers to browse upon the tender shoots of herbaceous plants and woody plants?
19. an animal that prefers to feed upon insects and worms which it digs from the soil?
20. a small mammal that may cause considerable damage by chewing the bark and twigs of small trees and ornamental plantings?
Seed plants are adapted so that they may be dispersed to new locations, where they can develop in less competition with their own kind than they could if the seeds or fruits simply fell to the ground when ripe.
21. Which of the seeds or fruits shown in Figure 7 are distributed by squirrels?
22. Which by birds?
23. Which by fur-bearing mammals?
24. Which by the wind?
25. Which by water?
The species of bird shown in Figure 8 has increased to tremendous numbers in the United States in recent years, and has rapidly extended its range in nearly all areas of the country.
26. One possible explanation for this biological success may be that: A. it lays more eggs than it did in its native Europe, B. food is extremely plentiful, so that it never needs go hungry, C. it is rigidly protected by our game laws, D. it found an unoccupied niche in which to live, D. the natural controls which regulated its population in Europe were not brought to the United States when the bird was introduced.
Figure 9 shows the migration route followed by several species of birds that pass through Kansas on their spring migration.
27 . Which of the following birds might you expect to follow this route?
A. goose, B. pheasant, C. vulture, D. plover, E. hummingbird.
An important ecological concept is that organisms are adapted to fill certain "niches" in their environment. Study the adaptations shown in Figure 10 and decide which bird is best fitted for each of the following dietary habits.
28. The role of a scavenger, feeding on dead animal matter.
29. Feeding on snails, fishes, water snakes, and the like, along the shallow shore areas of ponds and lakes.
30. The role of a carnivore, feeding mostly on diurnal mammals.
31. Eating ants, wood-boring insects, and their larvae.
32. The role of an omnivore, with insects, grain, and weed seeds predominant in its diet.
33. Feeding almost entirely on seeds.
34. The adaptations of the bird shown in Figure 11 best fit it for a niche: A. in the desert, B. along ponds and streams, C. in the forest, D. on the prairie, E. in the air, feeding on the wing, catching flying insects.
35. The adaptation which gives you the best suggestion as to the bird's feeding habits is: A. its color, B. the type of branch upon which it is perched, C. the shape of its beak, D. the size of its eyes, E. the size and shape of its feet.
Organisms that occupy somewhat the same niche in the environment are said to be "ecological equivalents." In the food web, the two species represented in Fig~re 12 may be considered ecological equivalents since they feed upon quite similar types of food.
36. The birds may be considered eq uivalents of: A. rabbits, B. rodents, C. muskrats, D. coyotes, E. deer.
37. These birds are of special benefit to man because they: A. feed mainly on insects, B. furnish food for carnivorous animals, C. are the ecological equivalents of mammals, D. furnish sport for hunters, E. prey upon rodents and rabbits.
Figure 13 shows a highly specialized bird species which does not live in Kansas or migrate through Kansas.
38. This bird is: A. flightless, B. specialized for living in extremely cold areas, C. specialized for living in warm areas, D. (A) and (B) are true. E. (A) and (C) are true.
THE BALD EAGLE
One of the reasons for the decline of the numbers of our national bird, the American Eagle or Bald Eagle (a fish eater) in some areas has been traced to the use of insecticides in its environment.
39. Probably the best explanation of this relationship is: A. The new insecticides are so deadly that they kill the eagles when sprayed from airplanes. B. The insecticide kills all kinds of insects, so the eagles starve because the fish upon which they normally feed have no food. C. A fish killed by eating insecticide killed insects usually poisons the eagle that eats it. D. Insecticides are concentrated in the fish from the insects they eat, and are further concentrated in the eagles, finally reaching the point where they interfere with the hatching of the eagle's eggs. E. Insecticides have been shown to destroy the nesting instincts of eagles.
In Kansas, large numbers of coyotes are poisoned, or killed by hunters using airplanes, guns, and dogs.
40. Should such practices result in the elimination of the coyote in the state, which of the following would he the most probable result? A. Elimination of the coyote would have little to no effect upon the animal communities of the state.
B. The numbers of rabbits and rodents would remain at about the present level. C. There may be a great increase in the n urn her of rabbits and rodents. D. The numbers of hawks and owls in the state will probably decrease as the numbers of coyotes decrease. E. Farmers may be expected to realize considerably higher financial returns as a result of the extermination of the coyote.
Each species is found in an area to which it is adapted by structure, function, and behavior.
41. Which of the animals shown in Figure 16 do you consider characteristic of the veldt?
42. Which would you look for in the taiga?
43. Which would you expect to find in the tundra?
44. Which lives in alpine areas?
45. Which requires the greatest amount of warmth and humidity throughout its life?
Through his agricultural activities, man is constantly changing the habitats available to animals. Figure 17 represents an agriculturally modified area; in which animals choose the habitats to which they are best adapted.
46. In which area would you probably find the largest number of different species of animals?
47. Where would you find most nesting warblers?
48. Where would you look for nests of the Kansas State Bird?
49. Where would you be most likely to find raccoon dens?
50. Where would you look for prairie chickens at about dawn or dusk?
ALTITUDE AND LATITUDE
Figure 18 shows the vegetational zones of the earth (left) and those of a high equatorial mountain (right). As you travel from the equator toward the North Pole, the vegetation shows dramatic changes.
51. Which of the following kinds of vegetation would you expect to find growing in the region labeled B?
A. coniferous forest, B. mosses and lichens, C. palms and orchids, D. low herbs and.shrubs, E.deciduous trees.
52. If you were to travel up the side of a high tropical mountain, starting from near sea level, at what place would you expect to find the same type of plants as the dominant vegetational form that occurs at F?
53. If you were to climb the above mountain, starting at station 6, at which station would you expect to sunburn most qUickly?
54. Probably the best explanation as to why sunburn is most apt to occur here is: 1. it is hotter at station 6. 2. You are closer to the sun at station 1. 3. You are above the clouds at station 3. 4. The atmosphere is thinner on the mountain top. 5. Station 1 is considerably colder than the other stations, so you are least apt to be sunburned here.
Figure 19 shows three curves of population growth.
55. Which of the curves most closely approximates the population growth of the human species?
56. Which curve best represents the growth of population of grain beetles in a bucket of wheat?
Figure 20 is a graph, based upon records of the pelts of the lynx and snowshoe hare received by the Hudson Bay Company, which represents a case of cyclic variations in population density. Suppose that the above graph represented fluctuations in the numbers of jackrabbits and coyotes in Kansas over a period of 90 years.
57. Which of the two lines would be most likely to represent the population of coyotes in the state?
A FEW THOUGHT QUESTIONS
1. Why do we always place plants, and never animals, at the D level of the pyramid of numbers, Figure 5?
2. Why, if the birds in Figure 12 are ecological equivalents of each other, are they not in direct competition with each other for food?
3. The polar bear, a large carnivorous mammal, is specialized to live in the same kind of habitat as the bird shown in Figure 13. Why do you think the polar bear has not exterminated this flightless bird?
4. With reference to the population growth curves shown in Figure 19, to what factor might you attribute the fact that the curve for human beings is so different from the curves of most other animals?
The Water Cycle
1. B. Sun
2. E. Transpiration is the loss of water by plants, primarily through the tiny openings in their leaves.
3. 1. The water table is the level to which the soil is saturated with water
4. C. Water is heaviest at near 4° C. It become, lighter as it approaches freezing, causing the colder and lighter water to rise to the top.
5. C. The colder water will be the heaviest in summer, and will sink into the hypolimnion, or bottom layer.
6. B-D. Stratification may occur during both summer and winter. In summer the warmer water is on top, while in winter the warmer water is on the bottom.
7. C. The Great Plains.
8. B. Much of this area is either high cold desert or semidesert, or lower hot desert or semi-arid land.
9. B. A is the Pacific Flyway, C is the Central Flyway, D is the Mississippi Flyway, and E the Atlantic Flyway.
10. B. Water holds great amount of heat. Ocean current, moving northward release their heat slowly, warming the nearby land.
11. C. A legume.
12. D. Ceriain bacteria, living in nodules on the roots of legumes such as clover, convert free nitrogen to a form usable by plants.
Pyramid of Numbers
13. D. The plant-eaters lend 10 be tolerant of others of the same species and often prefer to live in groups, such as herds of cattle and flocks of sheep.
14. D. The bison were herbivorous, or plant-eaters.
15. A. The coyote is the top carnivore, or consumer, now found on the prairies.
16. D. Weasel (a carnivore)
17. A. Man (an omnivore )
18. E . Deer (an herbivore)
19. B. Armadillo (primarily insectivorous)
20. C. Rabbit (a close relative of the rodents)
21. D. Acorns
22. E. Pokeberries
23. E. Beggar's licks
24. C. Dandelion
25. A. Cocoanut
26. D. The numbers of animals in an area tend to stay within certain limits due to controlling factors in their environment. In the absence of these conlrols an animal will often increase in excessive numbers.
27. D. Plover. Members of this group have the longest migration routes of any of the birds.
28. B. The vulture, or" buzzard."
29. A. Great Blue Heron
30. F. Hawk
31. G. Flicker
32. C. " Bobwhite" quail
33. H . Cardinal
34. B. Kingfisher
35. C. This bird plunges into the water from an over-hanging branch and "spears" its prey.
36. D. Like coyotes, hawks and owls are among the top predators in Kansas.
37. E. They prey upon primary consumers, such as rats and mice, that are in direct competition with the primary consumers among man's domestic animals.
38. D. The penguin is unable to fly, but survives quite successfully among the perpetual ice fields of the South Polar regions.
The Bald Eagle
39. D. Recent studies have shown that modern insecticides, picked up by the eagles in the fish they eat, are apparently interfering with the fertility of the eagles' eggs.
40. C. Rabbits and rodents, direct competitors with cattle and sheep, can reproduce at a very rapid rate. The coyote feeds almost exclusively on these animals.
41. A. African elephant.
42. C. Moose.
43. E. Muskox.
44. E. Mountain goat.
45. D. Tree frog.
46. 3. This is sometimes referred to as the "edge effect. " The larger number of species present is attributed to the greater number of diverse habitats available where different types of cover and soil manupulation come into contact.
47. 1. Warblers prefer to nest in the higher trees.
48. 4. Mleadowlarks nest in open, grassy areas.
49. 1. Racoons often nest in hollow tree cavities.
50. 2. Prairie chickens normally feed in the cultivated fields at dawn and dusk. During the remainder or the time they would be most apt to be found in area 4.
Attitude and Latitude
51. B. Deciduous tree. In some of the drier areas at this latitude D might apply.
52. 1. Mosses and lichens would be characteristic of both the mountain top and the far north.
53. 1. (perhaps 2).
54. 4. The atmosphere provides somewhat or a shielding effect from ultraviolet light, which produces the sunburn.
55. C. This type of curve illustrates what b often referred to as the "population explosion."
56. B. The population would rise to a peak and decline rapidly as the limits illlposed by space, food, and metabolic wastes began to exert their erfects.
57. The dotted line. Predators cannot increase to any grea t extent until there has been an increase
in their food supply. If the food supply suddenly diminishes, there will be a corresponding decrease in the predatory species.
A Few Thought Questions
1. Only green plants are able to carry on photosynthesis - that i.s, manufacture organic foods from inorganic materials) such as water, carbon dioxide, and various minerals.
2. The owl is nocturnal, feeding at night, while the hawk is diurnal, or a daytime feeder.
3. The polar bear inhabits the North Polar regions, while the penguin lives in the area of the South Pole.
4. Man has, due to his superior intelligence, been able to gain a considerable amount of "death control" by preventing and treating diseases that only a few generations ago resulted in the death of many people.
Alee, W.C., A. E. Emerson, O. Park, T. Park, and K. Schmidt. 1949. Principles of Animal Ecology. W. B. Saunders Company, West Washington Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19105
Knight, Clifford B. 1965. Basic Concepts of Ecology. The MacMillan Company, 866 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10022
Laycock, George. 1966. The Alien Animals. The Natural History Press, Garden City, New York 11530
Macan, T. T. 1963. Freshwater Ecology. John Wiley and Sons, Incorporated, 605 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10016
Odum, Eugene P. 1959. Fundamentals of Ecology. (Second Edition). W. B. Saunders Company, West Washington Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19105
Odum, Eugene P.1963. Ecology. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Incorporated, 383 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10017
Reid, George K. 1961. Ecology of Inland Waters and Estuaries. Reinholdt Publishing Corporation, 430 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10022
Wallace, Bruce, and Adrian M. Srb. 1961. Adaptation. Prentice-Hall, Incorporated, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632
THINGS TO DO
Children can be taught to understand and appreciate many of the ecological relationships, especially if their study is incorporated into laboratory and field experiences. Some suggestions and thought questions for study and investigation are listed below.
1. Take your students on a field trip to the City Park or the countryside.
a. Which birds are the most numerous? What are some reasons why these birds are found in larger numbers than other species?
b. If no one is allowed to hunt the squirrels, why do they remain in about the same numbers year after year?
c. If it is spring, why are the birds singing so loudly and often? Is it the male or female that does most of the singing? Do they seem to have a favorite spot from which to sing? Do you see any male birds of the same species singing side by side? Why?
d. Make notes of the birds' plumages and behavior when school starts in the fall. Do so again in the spring. Are they the same? How do you account for the changes that have occurred, if any, at these two times?
e. Do both males and females have the same colors? What are some possible survival values of
these color differences in the species in which they occur?
2. Set up an ant colony in the classroom.
a. What do the ants eat? Try several types of foods, such as grains, sugar, and small bits of meat.
b. Note that all ants in the colony are not the same shape and size, a condition known as polymorphism. What are some possible reasons for this evolutionary development?
c. Introduce ants of another species into the colony. What happens? What are some possible reasons for such behavior?
3. Get several clear gallon jugs. Fill each one with fresh water and let them set unstoppered overnight. In one jug place some Elodea or algae. In a second jug place some small fishes, such as guppies. In a third jug place both aquatic plants and small fishes. If a fourth jug is available, use snails, fish, and aquatic plants. You may wish to set up some combinations of your own in additional jugs. Seal all jugs tightly, and place in a lighted area in the classroom. Observe the organisms inside over a period of several weeks.
a. Do plants need animals for survival? What might each one provide for the other in the way of needed materials? Does the same interrelationship exist between man and the plants around him?
AUDUBON SCREEN TOURS
The Department or Biology presents the eleventh Audubon Screen Tour Series in 1967-68. This series consists or three all-color motion pictures of Wildlife, plant SCience, and conservation personally narrated by leading naturalists. All pictures are presented in Albert Taylor Hall at 7:30 p.m. on the dates listed below. Both group and single admission tickets are available for further information write John Ransom, Department or Biology, KSTC, Emporia, Kansas, 66801.
October 5, DEE JAY NELSON, Three Seasons North
November 15, ROBERT W. DAVISON, The Vanishing Sea
January 30, HUGH C. LAND, Out of the Selva
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