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Physical conditions of the environment


 

Biological Sciences

The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment(ACSSU094)

Elaborations

investigating how changing the physical conditions for plants impacts their growth and survival such as salt water, use of fertilizers and soil types
observing the growth of fungi such as yeast and bread mould in different conditions
 researching organisms that live in extreme conditions such as Antarctica or a desert
considering the effects of physical conditions causing migration and hibernation

Statement from National Curriculum (Source: ACARA | The Australian Curriculum | Version 1.2 dated Tuesday, 8 March 2011)


 Key Questions:

  • What sorts of environments on Earth contain no life?
  • Where do we find the most life? Why?
  • What characteristics do animals that live in extreme cold have in common? What about extreme heat?
  • When conditions change locally, how to animals and plants cope? What sort of things can/do they do?


Elaboration 1 - Changing physical conditions


 

ghostwtlnd

Salt water can kill most plants, thus making fertile areas barren.

entisolgelisol

Above: Two different soil 'profiles'. The type of soil has a significant effect on the growth of plants. 

 

interneticonsml Click here for an explanation of the main soil types. There are also two simple tests that students can conduct to determine the soil type. The site explains that some soil types are very fertile, while others are not very good for plant growth.

 

tabak bemestingsproeven

Above: An image of an early experiment on the effects of a fertiliser. The plants on the right had fertiliser added to the soil.

interneticonsml Discover a wealth of information for kids about plant nutrition by clicking on this link.
  This part of the site discusses plant nutrients. It explains the minerals needed for plants to grow effectively.

interneticonsml Click here for an overview of how increasing salt levels in soils are damaging parts of Australia. Some images show the degree of damage caused.

interneticonsml Click here to view a 'fact sheet' on salinity in Australian soils, its effect, and some interesting facts and figures.



Elaboration 2 - Growth in different conditions


 

brot-schimmelverschimmeltes brot

Above: Two images of bread mould.

interneticonsml Click here for a simple experiment that investigates how temperature affects the rate of growth of bread mould. It graphs some sample results to compare your results to, It also discusses why moulds are important and it has some interesting facts about moulds. (Note; The American spelling of 'mold' rather than 'mould' is used.)

interneticonsml Click here for a description of a simple experiment to determine what types of things affect the rate of growth of bread mould. This experiment looks at the type of bread that the mould grows on. There is a description of how to do the experiment. There are also results (including photographs) and a graph of these results.

interneticonsml Click here to view a student's experiment on the rate of growth of bread mould at different temperatures. It includes a written report.

videoiconsml Click below for a very brief (10 second) time lapse video of the growth of mould on a loaf of bread.

 

 videoiconsml Click below for a time lapse video showing a microscopic view of mould growing.

 

videoiconsml Click below for a 28 second time lapse, very close up video showing 18 hours of growth of Pilobolus fungus. While it is not bread mould, there are similarities and it is a very good video.

 


Elaboration 3 - Organisms in extreme conditions


 

emperor penguintype c orcas

Above left: Emperor Penguin  Above right: Keller Whales - both adapted for the extreme conditions of the Antarctic

 videoiconsml Click here for a video (about four minutes) describing the 'forests' of algae that are found in the Antarctic oceans. Some of the algae contain chemicals that are distasteful. There are other areas that contain many undersea animals. The water is so cold that divers can stay underwater for only about 30 minutes at a time, even though they wear insulating materials.

interneticonsml Click here for a detailed overview of plants that grow in Antarctica.

 videoiconsml Click here to view images of a range of animals that live in Antarctica. each image is a link that, when clicked, takes the user to a web page with more details on that animal. There are many animals, including

• krill
• squid
• fish
• seals and sea lions
• microorganisms
• etc

dl-13 belugabelugas

Above left: Aerial view of Beluga whales swimming close to ice.
Above right: Beluga whales underwater. "The absence of the dorsal fin is reflected in the genus name of the species - apterus is the Greek for "wingless". The evolutionary preference for a dorsal ridge in favor of a fin is believed by scientists to be adaptation to under-ice conditions, or possibly as a way of preserving heat." Ref: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Belugas.jpg

 

interneticonsml Click here for an overview of some of the adaptations that animals have in order to survive the cold weather of Antarctica

interneticonsml Click here for some 'questions and answers' from scientists in the Antarctic. They discuss animals that they have encountered.

interneticonsml Click here for an overview of some of the plants that live in Antarctica. These include

• Lichens
• Mosses and Liverworts
• Algae
• Kelp
• More detail on each of these is available from the menu on the left of the page. 

 videoiconsml Click here for some very brief videos of some animals from Antarctica.

• Penguins
• Seals
• Albatross
• Emperor penguins

 interactiveiconsml Click here for an interactive activity. This is a quiz where images of some animals of the Antarctic have to be matched against features needed for survival in the harsh conditions.

videoiconsml Click here for a photo gallery of animals and conditions in Antarctica.

interneticonsml Click here for an excellent site designed for students from Years 5 to 8. It is an Australian Government site created by the Australian Antarctic Division. While it contains information that falls outside the scope of this area of study, some students and teachers may find it useful. If you are an Australian teacher, you can even arrange to borrow Expeditioner Clothing Kits. Teacher Resource Kits are also available.



Elaboration 4 - Physical conditions - migration and hibernation


 Animals migrate for a number of reasons that are explored in the links below.

bar-tailed godwit migrationmigrationroutes

Above left: Migration of the Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica.Bar-tailed Godwits have recently (March 2007) been shown to undertake the longest non-stop flight of any bird. Using satellite tracking, birds in New Zealand were tagged and tracked all the way to the Yellow Sea in China. According to Dr. Clive Minton (Australasian Wader Studies Group) "The distance between these two locations is 9,575 km, but the actual track flown by the bird was 11,026 km. This is the longest known non-stop flight of any bird. The flight took approximately nine days. At least three other Bar-tailed Godwits also appear to have reached the Yellow Sea after non-stop flights from New Zealand." - Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bar-tailed_Godwit_migration.jpg

Above right: The migration paths of a number of birds.

interactiveiconsml Whales are an animal that migrates along the east coast of Australia each year. Click here to use an interactive activity that takes students onto a whale research vessel where they can explore a number of aspects of whale research. It is 'kid friendly' and it is narrated. (The 'Research Centre' has an area - click on the globe of the Earth - that discusses whale migration.) There are also a number of videos of whales.

interneticonsml Click here for a web site about whale spotting. It also explains the reasons for whale migration, such as
• food supply
• giving birth
• mating
 

videoiconsml Click here for a video  of a pod of minke whales off Davis, Antarctica.

russian river2birds in formation

Above left: Salmon migrate. They even jump rapids to reach upstream areas to lay their eggs. This is a salmon in a river in Russia.
Above right: Birds migrate. This V shaped pattern allows the birds to fly more efficiently, using less energy to cover large distances.

interneticonsml Click here for a list of Australian animals that migrate. While they are listed by their scientific name, it is useful as it shows the large number of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish that migrate.

interneticonsml Click here for an explanation of why birds migrate. There is a link at the start of the article that links to a podcast that discusses 'the intriguing mystery' of bird migration.

interneticonsml Click here for a description of the migration habits of two endangered Australian birds, the Swift Parrot and the Orange-Bellied Parrot. Both parrots breed in Tasmania. However, they cross Bass Straight each year to spend winter in the warmer mainland. The crossing can be very dangerous.

Some animals do not change location (migrate) with the seasons. Instead, they may 'sleep' or hibernate instead.

interneticonsml Click here for an explanation of hibernation, including
• animals that hibernate.
• where they hibernate.
• whether they hibernate alone.
• some interesting facts. 

 interneticonsml Click here for an overview of hibernation. Areas that are covered include:

• Changes that happen in preparation for hibernation.
• How animals know that it is time to get ready for hibernation.
• Different types of 'hibernation'.
• Heart rates during hibernation. 

interneticonsml Click here for a description of hibernation by the Echidna. This is a bit of a mystery as they hibernate at a time of year when there is food available and winter has already passed. This University researcher is working to discover why they hibernate.

videoiconsml Click below for a video (about 2 minutes 20 seconds) that discusses bird migration. It explains that the birds do not migrate because they are cold. Instead they move because the cold weather reduces their food (insects). It also discusses that some of the smaller birds travel very large distances and some of the birds that migrate long distances do so at great heights (even reaching 29 000 feet - or about 9 600 metres).

videoiconsml Click below for a video (also about 2 minutes 20 seconds) that describes the migration of Sandhill Cranes to Arizona each year, and the reasons that they travel to this location. They come from as far away as Alaska and Siberia. 


Acknowledgments:


 Changing Physical Conditions

Image 1 - Salt water 'ghost forest' - U.S.G.S. National Wetlands Research Center

Image 2 - Early experiment using fertiliser - Tropenmuseum of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Soil profile 1 (gelisol) - This image is a work of a United States Department of Agriculture employee, taken or made during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Soil profile 2 (entisol) - This image is a work of a United States Department of Agriculture employee, taken or made during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Aerial view of 'centre pivot irrigation' irrigation - This file is in the public domain because it was created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that "NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted".

Aerial view of 'centre pivot irrigation' irrigation  in the Sahara Desert - This file is in the public domain because it was created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that "NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted".

Bread Mould Image 1 (close up view) - By User:Mattes [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bread Mould Image 2 - By Henry Mühlpfordt (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Organisms in extreme conditions

Emperor penguin - This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. via Wikimedia Commons.

Killer whales - This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

Beluga whales swimming near ice - This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties.

 MIgration and Hibernation

Migration route image 1 - This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the United States Geological Survey, an agency of the United States Department of Interior. From Wikimedia Commons

Migration route image 2  (6 different birds)- I (Shaymal), the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. From Wikimedia Commons.

Samon jumping - By Zhans33 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Migrating birds - By J Dykstra (Personal Photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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