The field trip to Elk Island Park taken by both biology twenty classes was an interesting and fun day. We learnt about many different types of plant and animal life in different ecosystems and how they contribute to their ecosystem. The two main ecosystems we looked at in detail were the marsh and the bog. We look at and recorded facts about the abiotic and biotic factors in the area to better understand the importance of these ecosystems.
The first thing we learnt about was some of the biotic animal?s insects and water creatures found in the park. In the amphitheatre we were able to see the different types of animals found in the park, how we were expected to act around the animals and how they live in their environment. We talked about the bison found in the park and how we should stay a safe distance away from them. We then saw a film on the insects, plants, amphibians, and animals found in the marsh. The purpose of this was to help us to be able to identify these invertebrates in the water and to tell us how they are important to their ecosystem. These invertebrates found in the marsh are a part of a long and complicated food web found in that small ecosystem. The plants, animals, insects, and amphibians fall into the first three stages of the food web, which in turn start the food chain. Plants in the marsh are eaten by the insects, which are eaten by other insects and amphibians. Our job was to identify these creatures and place them into a category (producers, consumers, and secondary consumers) according to how they live in the marsh.
As a group we were able to catch many of these invertebrates present in the marsh. We caught water boatmen, minnows, snails, caddisfly larva, water striders, leaches, whirligig beetle, and fresh water shrimp. The food chain found in the marsh started with algae and other plant life found in the water. Insects like the water boatman, minnows, snails, and caddisfly larva eat the algae. These insects are eaten by other insects and amphibians like water striders, leaches, whirligig beetles, and freshwater shrimp. This is the beginning of a long and complicated food chain. Our group was also personally shown how an insect like the caddisfly larva makes its home to camouflage itself. This adaptation gives the caddisfly an advantage and its species is able to stay in existence.
After lunch we went to the bog and took part in three activities. The first activity was an experiment that proved that moss hold about the amount of water if not more water than a sponge. The second activity was to see if a potato was preserved after it had been left in the ground for two weeks. Amazingly it was still firm and no mold was growing on it. Next we took the pH and temperature of the soil. We found the bog to be very acidic and cold. We concluded that the bog acts like refrigerator and is able to preserve things because of the acidity of the soil. This explained why mummies are found in bogs. We then look at some of the of the plant life found in the bog. The plants we found were reindeer lichen, labrador tea, sphagnum moss, polytrichum moss, bog cranberry, and dry ground cranberry. These plants are suited for a bog because the can act as insulators for the soil and retain water easily. This is why large trees are not found in bogs.
Elk Island Park was and was great learning experience for the people who were able to see the importance behind the different ecosystems. The actual report made us think about how the ecosystems operate. We learnt why certain species and plant life are found within that ecosystem and what their purpose is in the ecosystem. The knowledge gained from the field trip makes it possible for us to see how and why the world operates in the way it does. This knowledge shows us why the little things in nature are important. Now it is up to us to preserve and protect these places where the animals and plants within them are the beginnings of all life on earth.