Shelter: Eco-design in the Real World–Fall Quarter

Adopt a Species–A Search for Pattern

During our stay at Satsop Wells, we will have an opportunity practice our skills of observing nature and recording observations in field journals. At first glance, the natural world can appear to be an extraordinarily complex combination of life forms, seemingly disconnected from each other. The purpose of this exercise is to search for pattern in the distribution and abundance of a species that will help us bring some sense of organization to this complexity. For this exercise you choose a particular species of plant, fungi, or animal. It is not important that you know the scientific name of the species but rather that you be able to identify physical or behavioral characteristics that make this species unique. (This may require some detailed study and sketches). The species you choose should not be so rare that it is impossible to find more than a single individual. During periods of time when you are not engaged in organized challenge course activities, find individuals of your chosen species, note and map where your species is found, and determine what suite of physical factors might help explain why your species is found where it is. Another way of saying the same thing is to figure out the physical characteristics that are associated with the occurrence of your species. Be sure to record your observations, assumptions, and conclusions in your field notebook.

For example, is your species found only in relatively wet areas, or areas with full sunlight? Are small or relatively young individuals found in environs different than adults? Moisture, temperature, and sunlight are obvious factors that may help explain the distribution of species in space. Your challenge is to figure out if these and/or other factors control the distribution of your species and then supporting your conclusion with observations.

On Friday morning (Oct. 1) each species group will lead others on a short tour to one or more sites where your species is found. During this short trip, you will have an opportunity to explain the nature of your observations, the conclusions you derive from those observations, and hypotheses that others could use to test your conclusions.

Discussion questions: How could you test hypotheses related to factors controlling the distribution of your species using observation, or using manipulative experiments.

Are the factors you think are important abiotic or biotic in nature? What more would you need to do to determine if biotic factors are affecting your species?

How does consideration of spatial scale affect your answers to questions above?


Checkerspot Butterfly Limiting Pressures

List the factors that limit the checkerspot butterfly population in the studies cited in The Machinery of Nature.

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