Field ecology lab report

Pay only for approved parts Ecology Lab Report Sample Posted on January 18, by EssayShark Introduction The big picture is that sampling natural systems in a structured repeatable way is critical for ecologists.

Field ecology lab report

The theory of optimal foraging and its relation to central foraging was examined by using the beaver as a model.

Beaver food choice was examined by noting the species of woody vegetation, status chewed vs. Beavers avoided certain species of trees and preferred trees that were close to the water.

No preference for tree circumference was noted. These data suggest that beaver food choice concurs with the optimal foraging theory. Introduction In this lab, we explore the theory of optimal foraging and the theory of central place foraging Field ecology lab report beavers as the model animal.

Foraging refers to the mammalian behavior associated with searching for food. The optimal foraging theory assumes that animals feed in a way that maximizes their net rate of energy intake per unit time Pyke et al.

An animal may either maximize its daily energy intake energy maximizer or minimize the Field ecology lab report spent feeding time minimizer in order to meet minimum requirements.

Herbivores commonly behave as energy maximizers Belovsky and accomplish this maximizing behavior by choosing food that is of high quality and has low-search and low-handling time Pyke et al. The central place theory is used to describe animals that collect food and store it in a fixed location in their home range, the central place Jenkins The factors associated with the optimal foraging theory also apply to the central place theory.

The central place theory predicts that retrieval costs increase linearly with distance of the resource from the central place Rockwood and Hubbell Central place feeders are very selective when choosing food that is far from the central place since they have to spend time and energy hauling it back to the storage site Schoener The main objective of this lab was to determine beaver Castor canadensis food selection based on tree species, size, and distance.

Since beavers are energy maximizers JenkinsBelovsky and central place feeders McGinley and Whitamthey make an excellent test animal for the optimal foraging theory. Beavers eat several kinds of herbaceous plants as well as the leaves, twigs, and bark of most species of woody plants that grow near water Jenkins and Busher The purpose of this lab was to learn about the optimal foraging theory.

We wanted to know if beavers put the optimal foraging theory into action when selecting food. We hypothesized that the beavers in this study will choose trees that are small in circumference and closest to the water. Since the energy yield of tree species may vary significantly, we also hypothesized that beavers will show a preference for some species of trees over others regardless of circumference size or distance from the central area.

The optimal foraging theory and central place theory lead us to predict that beavers, like most herbivores, will maximize their net rate of energy intake per unit time.

In order to maximize energy, beavers will choose trees that are closest to their central place the water and require the least retrieval cost.

Since beavers are trying to maximize energy, we hypothesized that they will tend to select some species of trees over others on the basis of nutritional value. Our research area was located along the edge of the pond and was approximately m in length and 28 m in width. There was no beaver activity observed beyond this width.

The circumference, the species, status chewed or not- chewedand distance from the water were recorded for each tree in the study area. Due to the large number of trees sampled, the work was evenly divided among four groups of students working in quadrants.

Each group contributed to the overall data collected. We conducted a chi-squared test to analyze the data with respect to beaver selection of certain tree species. We conducted t-tests to determine 1 if avoided trees were significantly farther from the water than selected trees, and 2 if chewed trees were significantly larger or smaller than not chewed trees.

Mean tree distance from the water and mean tree circumference were also recorded. Results Overall, beavers showed a preference for certain species of trees, and their preference was based on distance from the central place. Measurements taken at the study site show that beavers avoided oaks and musclewood Fig.

Field ecology lab report

No avoidance or particular preference was observed for the other tree species. The mean distance of 8. Discussion Although beavers are described as generalized herbivores, the finding in this study related to species selection suggests that beavers are selective in their food choice.

This finding agrees with our hypothesis that beavers are likely to show a preference for certain tree species. Although beaver selection of certain species of trees may be related to the nutritional value, additional information is needed to determine why beavers select some tree species over others.

Other studies suggested that beavers avoid trees that have chemical defenses that make the tree unpalatable to beavers Muller-Schawarze et al.

These studies also suggested that beavers prefer trees with soft wood, which could possibly explain the observed avoidance of musclewood and oak in our study.Top Hat is education software built for professors and teaching faculty.

Ecology and Evolution

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