Understanding Nutrient Interactions in Ecosystems

  • Jenny Shoener

Lab Lovers: Garrett, Jilda, & Ying


The purpose of conducting this test was to see a synopsis of how an ecosystem works. Also to see how organisms and the environment interact to handle an operating system. While observing and experimenting, it could show how the cycles interact along with organisms living in the ecosystem effect water quality. This test was purposeful to show how water quality and dirt can be examined and give research and proof the way the cycles such as carbon, nitrogen, and drinking water works alongside the organisms moving into a specific ecosystem.


The Ecocolumn was constructed on September 12th by cleaning, lowering and constructing based on the directions which were given. It had been measured throughout a set of twelve weeks about. The containers were lower in three different parts and were come up with to form different chambers. The three different biomes were created including an aquatic, decomposition and a terrestrial habitat. Within the decomposition chamber a potato, banana peel and other scraps were positioned for decomposition. Soil that contained a more clay structure and organisms were earned from outside options to create the terrestrial habitat. Two spiders, a slug and a caterpillar of some sort were places into the chamber for discussion. Pond water was brought in from an untreated pond and was located in the aquatic chamber for assessment. Through the weeks of observation, we analyzed this quality and any biome changes. For this quality, turbidity, dissolved air, pH and temperatures for exact quantity measurements were examined. As far as physical features, the odor and color was also documented. Turbidity was measured by placing drinking water into a cup and positioned into a machine that electronically measured the turbidity. A probe that was connected to a sensor tested dissolved oxygen and the figures would display over a display screen in measurements of milligrams per liter. The probe had to be kept in movement to move around the water and air. Temperature was tested the same manner so far as using a probe, but it was assessed in certifications Celsius and was designed to keep still. The acidic count up, or pH, was measured also assessed by by using a probe. The odor was recognized by opening up the flap created to allow access to the and smelling it. Color was dependant on sight and exactly how translucent it was. At the start of the experiment, there were organisms in the decomposition and terrestrial chamber, but as the weeks progressed on and the ecocoloulm was cleared to be sustainable enough to add an organism in to the aquatic chamber, there was a gold fish added. Over the twelve week extend of experimenting, observing and testing, there is a complete of five dimension days. They were disseminate to observe how it changed as time passes.


1. Identify two Food Chains or Food Webs in each of your habitats (chambers). Use arrows to illustrate these food chains and food webs; complete phrases are not required. Use extra newspaper if needed.

  • Aquatic Chamber - 1) Duckweed Ї Silver Seafood 2) Bacteria Ї Yellow metal Fish
  • Decomposition Chamber - 1) Compost Ї Flies 2) Flies Ї Spiders
  • Terrestrial Chamber - 1) Flies Ї Spider 2) Vegetation Ї Slug

2. Identify and briefly discuss the biogeochemical cycles which can be taking place/which can be found in your EcoColumns. Usually do not merely declare that "they are all present"; instead, provide more specific information.

  • Water Cycle - How drinking water gets recycled and put back into the system through several steps including evaporation, transpiration, precipitation, etc. While using ecocolumn, water in the aquatic chamber evaporates to the terrestrial chamber and then to the decomposition section. Eventually, the water would seep back into the aquatic chamber, having along with it ground, nutrients and other particles.
  • Carbon Cycle - How carbon is recycled and put back into the machine through respiration and photosynthesis. Carbon Dioxide was made from all chambers through all the organisms.
  • Nitrogen Cycle - How nitrogen is recycled and put back the system through organic matter, air, consuming, and eliminating throw away. The nitrogen found in the food would be consumed by the organisms, then would be digested and leave their body enriching the ground, further heading down into the left over chambers, finding yourself in the aquatic.

3. Is your ecosystem column a closed or open system? --- or could it be something in between a sealed or available system? Explain how this (shut, available or other) affects the ecosystem column overall.

The ecocolumn is both and open up and sealed system. Approximately it is shut down and maintained by itself, there is a little interference and disruption when evaluating soil and checking out the water quality; along with adding more organisms as the test went on. That can have possibly altered the cycles and how the ecosystem interacted all together.

4. What kind of niches are available/present for the various organisms in the column? Be specific, descriptive, and use terminology that is pertinent to this issue.

  • Decomposition Chamber Niches -The two spiders climbed from the terrestrial chamber to the decomposition chamber and made a niche in the top of the bottle by content spinning an internet.
  • Terrestrial Chamber Niches - The Slug buried itself in the garden soil, as the caterpillar climbed on a branch.
  • Aquatic Chamber Niches - The fishes just swam around intertwining with the duckweed and aquatic crops placed into the chamber.

5. Discuss proof of ecological succession taking devote your column (or in the column of another laboratory group if you never have observed any signs or symptoms of succession in your column).

When the pond normal water was first placed into the normal water chamber when making the ecocolumn, there was no duckweed in this inflatable water, but as time continued duckweed became present credited to an unidentified bacteria and special conditions. In another ecocolumn, this inflatable water switched from clear to black in a matter of a couple weeks due to abnormal nutrients.

6. Discuss the stability and sustainability of the ecosystem columns in the laboratory, together with your own.

As much as steadiness and sustainability for the other ecocolumns it fluctuated quite a lot. One group's drinking water turned completely dark because of the abnormal nutrient content also known as eutrophication. My organizations' ecocolumn was secure and sustained up until the end. By the end of the test, our dissolved oxygen decreased from 7. 0 mg/L to 3. 0 mg/L.

7. Discuss three trends or patterns which stand out as you think again on the info that you've been saving for 6 weeks. These styles or patterns should connect with this inflatable water quality testing or other observations which you have made over this multi-week time period. Quickly discuss these three tendencies or habits, providing possible explanations predicated on environmental science principles.

  1. The temperature remained almost continuous throughout the whole experiment. Probably because of the fact that since this is more of a handled experiment, it stayed under room heat through the test.
  2. The dissolved air levels stayed regular through the whole experiment up until the end. That is could probably be because of the rainy, cloudy weather no sun shining through the windowpane, reaching the column to dissolve the oxygen. Also could be due to the duckweed that became present along with the other place that was positioned in the aquatic chamber since when there are too many plants, oxygen will become little to nothing when bacteria break them down once they have passed away.
  3. The pH, or acidic levels stayed on average regular throughout the ecocoloumn test. This could be scheduled possibly to the secure encirclement of carbon dioxide.

8. Explain what eutrophication refers to and how this occurs. Apply this justification to your ecosystem column. How might eutrophication happen in your column? Explain completely.

Eutrophication identifies excessive levels of nutrition in a body of normal water. Eutrophication could take place in the ecocoulumn from the runoff of the soils nutrients because of the cycles taking place within the ecocolumn, more importantly the water routine that is occurring.

9. Decide on another group in your class. How do your data compare to theirs? Brainstorm some causes/reasons for any differences.

Compared to Julius, Maggie, Mariah and Alondra's group data, our data is much different. While our drinking water had a slight odor to it, their drinking water was described as smelling like sewer. Their turbidity was largely above 100, whereas our turbidity levels were in the 30's and 40's. Our water was almost 100% clear, but their normal water was pure dark-colored due to increased nutrition. Their dissolved air was on average 1. 0-2. 0, but ours was 7. 0 on average. Some causes or known reasons for the difference may be the source of where we received our water. Their water was extracted from a lake, whereas our drinking water was taken from a fish pond.

10. Finally, address any sources of mistake in this lab. This will be narrated in a "cause and effect" manner and talk about specific problems. A good example would be "water didn't drain from the terrestrial chamber so. . . " while a terrible example would be "we messed up the measuring 1 day. "

Some conflicts we experienced was during the experiment, the dissolved air levels went down and then induced a gold fish died. Then down the road one of the two spiders had perished. Besides that, there was nothing that was much of one on the ecosystem part.


In conclusion to the experiment, I saw first hand a similar representation of how an ecosystem interacts and changes in the future. From viewing on the outside, I could see how the land and normal water quality fluctuated and modified to what was occurring inside the ecosystem or ecocolumn. Before the experiment, I did not understand how the quality of water or what was surviving in an ecosystem related or did the trick together. I learned that with what is in the drinking water or compacted in the garden soil, directly correlates to the way the ecosystem changes and adapts. For example, I always recognized this inflatable water, carbon, and nitrogen cycle were important, but I never noticed the effect they had on the drinking water quality or how organisms helped break things down and keep different levels at secure positions. I really believe the most crucial finding of this project is how the interaction of all the various cycles and assignments organisms play in an ecosystem affect each other.


Houston, H. (2013, Sept 24). Interview by Shoener Jenny. Ecocolumn information.

Houston, H. (2013). Drinking water quality notes. Unpublished manuscript.

ISECA. (n. d). What is eutrophication. Retrieved from http://www. iseca. eu/en/science-for-all/what-is-eutrophication

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