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Ecosystem Article

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Creating an Airtight Ecosystem to Show Dependence

A group of animals and plants that live together in a common area and need each other to survive is called an ecosystem. Many different kinds of ecosystems can be found on our planet including deserts, forests, prairies, rivers, oceans, swamps and marshes. Each of these ecosystems rely on each other for survival in some small way so if one ecosystem is suffering, it will possibly harm the other ecosystems. Everything that lives in an ecosystem, both plants and animals, need each other to survive as well. Ecosystems are very interesting and can be fun to study. You can do a simple and fun project at home to further understand how ecosystems work.

Making an Airtight Ecosystem

You can see how the living things in an ecosystem need each other by making an ecosystem of your own with these materials:

*three 1-quart canning jars with lids
*water that has been sitting out to put in the jars
*2 plants that live in water like Elodea or Anacharis no taller than 4"
*animals that live in the water like snails or guppies
*aquarium thermometer for each jar

You can use these materials to create an airtight ecosystem that will help you further understand the dependence between plants and animals in an ecosystem. The first thing you should do is put enough water in each jar to go all the way to the top. In one jar, add a few of the plants and and animals that live in the water. In the second jar, put just the remaining plants, and in the last jar, put just the remaining animals. Before you seal the jars, put an aquarium thermometer in each one. Put the jars in a location where you can see them and where they will get plenty of sun every day. The jars have to be completely sealed for this to work.

What Will Happen in Your Airtight Ecosystem?

You will be amazed at what happens when you watch the changes in each of the three airtight ecosystems you have created for a few weeks. In the jar with both plants and animals, you will see both thrive. The animals will be able to survive because of oxygen from the plants and the plants will survive because of their use of the waste water from the animals. They need each other to survive, in other words. The other two airtight ecosystem jars will not fare as well. The plants will not be able to survive on their own and neither will the animals because they have no oxygen without plants. The plants need the animal's waste water to survive because that is what they feed on so they will also die. The two need each other as demonstrated by your airtight ecosystem experiment.


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