Ecology Project: How does life stack up?

In 1993’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 chambers) album, the Wu-Tang clan posited that “Ca$h rules everything around me (C.R.E.A.M.)”. While this applies widely to modern human economic systems, it fails to explain the dynamics of biological ecosystems.

Therefore, I hope the Wu-Tang clan would allow me to amend their thesis to:  E.P.R.E.A.M. or Ca$h Ecological pyramids rule(s) everything around me! Indeed, everywhere we look, the pyramidal structure of nature is evident.But I digress….

Still from Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids” music video, 2012 Universal Media Group

Project Driving Question: How does life stack-up?

Big Idea: Ancient Egyptians knew that the pyramid was a structure of special power. With a strong, wide base, they honor their gods and dead by stacking gradually smaller tiers up to the heavens. But, nature was way ahead of even them. This pyramidal structure appears all over Earth’s ecosystems, too. Imagine the pyramid’s base being composed of producers (plants, algae), with herbivores on the next level up, and the most fearsome predators at the pyramid’s highest point. Ecological pyramids help explain how energy is transferred, how different species are balanced, how much life can occur, and more. In this project, you will explore how one organism carves out its particular ecological niche in the pyramid, and also connects to the life on the tiers above and below.

Products:

  1. A physical symbolic representation of your chosen organism that can be added to a 3D eco-pyramid display.
  2. An “Ecological Profile” of your organism’s role within its ecosystem. This will be conveyed as a website accessible through your digital portfolio.
  3. Quick-fact tag with QR code linking to your digital portfolio entry.

Project Flow: Click here for daily work-log

  1. Select an organism that belongs to the trophic level you “rolled” in class.
  2. Research the organism (preliminary research questions are below.
  3. Prepare a multimedia webpage on your DP to show off your research.
  4. Prepare a physical symbol that represents your organism.
  5. Link to your webpage from a “quick-fact tag” attached to your organism’s symbol.

Research questions (see daily work-log for detailed research goals)

  • What trophic level does the organism belong to?
  • Describe the ecosystem(s) that the organism lives in
    • What biome does the ecosystem belong to?
    • What is the yearly temperature and precipitation profile there?
    • What is unique about this organism’s specific ecosystem?
  • What is this organism’s niche within the ecosystem?
  • What adaptations help this organism fulfill its niche?
  • How does energy flow through your organism?
  • How does your organism interact with other organisms in its ecosystem?
  • What symbiotic or survival relationships does your organism engage in?
  • What are the major environmental threats to your organism and its ecosystem as a whole?

Web Resources:

http://www.arkive.org/

http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/162263/

http://en.climate-data.org/

Database of endangered species info

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