Cuyamaca College Ecology and Habitats Discussion

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1.Following prevailing ecological theory, you expect that larger patches of eelgrass might harbor a greater diversity of animal species than smaller patches. You also notice that larger patches of eelgrass are generally found in shallower water with less current velocity than smaller patches. If you were to design an experiment to test the effect of patch size on diversity, what would the independent and dependent variables be? What are some potential confounding factors that you should try to account for? What would the null and alternative hypotheses of this experiment be?

2.Describe least three of the five pitfalls we discussed in class found in the following experiment:

A researcher notices that the nudibranch Janolus barbarensis tends to eat more sponges and less bryozoans when found in the vicinity of the predatory sea-slug Navanax inermis. Although nudibranchs usually rely on their keenly sensitive chemoreceptors rather than their minuscule eyes, the researcher believes this shift in diet is triggered by visual cues when J. barbarensis sees N. inermis due to the flamboyant coloration of N. inermis. To test this, they set up an aquarium with two compartments separated by a see-through mesh screen: one compartment containing N. inermis and the other containing J. barbarensis. Within the J. barbarensis compartment there is a bryozoan colony placed next to the mesh partition and a sponge placed at the other end of the tank furthest from the N. inermis. The researcher weighs the bryozoan colonies at the beginning and end of each 24 hour trial to see which the J. barbarensis ate more of. They repeat this experiment 7 times using the same sea-slugs and tank for each trial. As a control, they set up a second identical aquarium but do not put N. inermis in its compartment. They find that visual cues from N. inermis do cause a significant shift in J. barbarensis diet from bryozoans to sponges and they use this finding to suggest that selectively killing N. inermis would be an effective strategy to reduce the spread of invasive bryozoans.




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