pparent's science notebook for investigation Pond Area Biodiversity Study (Tue, 10/11/2011 - 08:13)

My Research Investigation
Which investigation is this notebook for?: 
Ask your research question: 
We are in year 2 of a biodiversity survey at Massabesic Middle School. Last year, students surveyed the east entrance of the school campus. Our mission was to try to identify plants on campus. Plants were chosen first because they are easier to photograph (and they don't run away). We will be working on identifying all the other organisms on campus eventually. Ever watchful for invasive species (the road is a logical vector), we collected evidence to identify the plants in the area. Student teams were given 5 meter by 5 meter quadrats to look through to select a plant. Each individual student was required to identify their own and each student in the group focused in on a different plant from the others in the group. Many trees and other plants were positively identified last year thanks to the hard work of last year's seventh graders and confirmations from Vital Signs Experts. A full listing of last year's identifications is being compiled. In this mission we are working on identifying more plants. We are focusing in on the pond area this year, where we will find very different plants to identify. We are all aware that it may be a lot more challenging to identify grasses, sedges, shrubs and other plants common to more wet areas but we are all up for the task. Are we going to be able to successfully identify different plants in the pond area? How have these different plants adapted to life in these different conditions found in the pond area?
Make a prediction or form your hypothesis: 
We think we will probably be able to identify several plants in the pond area because we will look closely and we have good resources to help us. We also think we should be able to observe and document ways that these plants have adapted to the different conditions of the pond area if we look closely enough.
Reflect and conclude your investigation
Reflect on your research: 
So far so good in terms of identification. We have identified several plants and still have a lot of work to do. We will need to note where certain plants are found and note characteristics like soil type, moisture content of soil, light exposure and things like the tendency of the area to flooding. These characteristics may give us a better idea of adaptations plants have. We will have to continue to identify organisms we can note changes as conditions change or invasive species move in to new areas. We will need to try to map where certain plants are so we can monitor changes.
State your conclusion: 
We have been able to positively identify several plants and other organism on campus and will continue this work, especially in the pond area, the one area that may be most effected by the emergence of invasive species like Lythrum salicaria. We will continue to measure the biodiversity of our Massabesic Middle School Campus for years to come. If we can document what we have, then we can record the succession of this area from a quiet, secluded area to one that is now opened up by roads and traffic to. We will also monitor for invasive species, both present and new ones, and note changes in these populations and native species. We are looking closely at adaptations of plants in an area that is really a vernal pool that has water levels that fluctuate with each rainfall.