SCI207.W2.Laboratory 2 Instructions

SCI207.W2.Laboratory 2 Instructions - PURPOSE Overview As...

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PURPOSE Overview As you learned in Chapter 1, ecosystems are a complex and delicate balancing game. The addition or removal of any species affects many other species that might compete for or provide food. These interspecific interactions are further influenced by human impacts on the environment such as habitat fragmentation. Chapter 4 noted how disturbances associated with deforestation and urban sprawl alter environmental conditions in ways that can both shift competitive outcomes in ecosystems and threaten human well-being. In this lab you will apply the scientific method to examine how thresholds of land use changes such as deforestation and urban sprawl can impact communities, predator/prey relationships, species diversity, and quality of life in human communities. Scenario The imaginary forest town of Pinchot, California is facing a land use planning battle. Conservationists and the local outdoor recreation industry want to protect at least 75% of Pinchot’s surrounding forest reserve to maintain the town’s natural heritage, including its unique biodiversity and valuable ecosystem services. Developers, however, want to expand the town’s neighborhoods and shopping malls and insist that protecting 25% of the reserve is all that is needed to sustain the forest’s biodiversity and economic value. You have been appointed to a select team of scientists tasked with using the scientific method to evaluate the impacts of fragmentation on the forest reserve and community. Your objective is to determine the percent of intact forest that must be maintained to protect the reserve’s biodiversity and ecosystem services . To achieve this objective, your team has developed a computer model based on decades of plant and animal population data collected by the Dept of Fish & Wildlife and local land trusts. Your modeling has also incorporated population data from the forest reserves of three nearby towns, which are 25%, 50% and 75% fragmented, respectively. By comparing how fragmentation has impacted four ecologically important species within these four forest reserves, your team aims to answer the question of whether 25%, 50% or 75% fragmentation will be “sustainable” for Pinchot’s forest in terms of sustaining its biodiversity and ecosystem services. The science-based hypothesis that you are testing, using this computer model, is that neither 50% nor 75% fragmentation will achieve this goal. About the Species The four ecologically important species that your study focuses on include: 1. Spiny firegrass (SFG): a fictional Eurasian invasive annual grass. It is dangerous because as an annual that dries out in the summer, it increases the risk of dry-season wildfire in habitats that it invades. Elk do not eat SFG unless they are starving. SFG prefers disturbed sites such as
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SCI207.W2.Laboratory 2 Instructions - PURPOSE Overview As...

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