RelativeResourceManager1 - Laboratory 7 A Walk in the Park...

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Laboratory 7: A Walk in the Park: Tree diversity on the University of Minnesota Campus Name:__________________________ Section:_________________________ Background and Introduction An important part of understanding how ecosystems function rests with understanding their component parts. In Minnesota, trees represent a conspicuous feature of the landscape and vary greatly depending on not only where one might be in the state, but also proximity to water, location on a hillside (crest, slope or base), or the degree of shading that might be present. Knowing what something is, of course, leads to a great deal more understanding concerning the surrounding environment because, at least in the case of trees, different trees provide different resources for the ecosystem. For example, oaks, with their prolific acorns provide an important food source for deer, squirrels, and turkeys. Other trees, such as northern white-cedar provide an important source of thermal cover in winter for deer. The identification of different organisms, in this lab our focus will be on trees, is based on the identification of traits common to groups of similar organisms, but different from related forms. In the case of trees, leaf shape, bark color and texture, and overall architecture (i.e., the silhouette), and other traits are all used to classify trees into different taxonomic groups. Indeed, taxonomy has been instrumental in providing a common language for investigators around the world to communicate information. Taxonomy is a system of classification that allows us to construct an ordered understanding of the natural world. Biological taxonomy, often called Linnaean taxonomy or binomial classification system, is probably the best known method of taxonomic ordering. In this system, living things are divided into a number of categories, called taxonomic ranks: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species . The methods of identifying where different organisms belong are done in a number of different ways from complicated analysis of DNA to the identification of important shared physical features. In this lab, you will use a simple descriptive taxonomic technique to identify trees around the university campus based on a number of easily cataloged and observed physical characteristics including leaf shape, arrangement and orientation, fruit/seed characteristics, bark color and texture and the overall structure and shape of the tree. This lab will: 1) provide you with an experience-based understanding of taxonomic ordering. 2) familiarize you with the important species and families of trees present in Minnesota. 3) Get you outside to appreciate the beauty and tree diversity of your campus surroundings, and enjoy the fall weather.
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One of the easiest ways to identify trees is through the use of a dichotomous key. The dichotomous key breaks down the morphological characteristics of trees into a series of two choice questions. For example, the first question nearly all dichotomous keys for tree
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RelativeResourceManager1 - Laboratory 7 A Walk in the Park...

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