Plants are called . This is because they They do this by using light energy from the Sun, carbon dioxide from the air and water from the soil to produce food - in the form of glucouse/sugar.
The process is called . Click on the image below to learn about photosynthesis.
Sugars created in photosynthesis can be later converted by the plant to starch for storage, or it can be combined with other sugar molecules to form specialized carbohydrates such as , or it can be combined with other nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur, to build complex molecules such as and .
An ecosystem consists of the whole community of living organisms (biocenosis), the abioticcomponent of a certain environment (biotope) and their relationships.
The relationships essentially consist in a flux of substances which pass from thenon-living components to living ones and in a flux of energy which passes from thephotosynthetic organisms (plants) to the herbivorous animals, then to carnivores. Thewastes and the dead organisms are then decomposed by the micro-organisms which brake downthe substances back to simple components, in a full cycle.
1 - With a shovel in a field or in a wood, dig a square hole of about half a meter (1 1/2feet) square and about 40 cm (18") deep. Describe the non-living components of thesoil and all forms of life you find: roots, earthworms, snails, centipedes, spiders,crickets, etc. To complete the description of the ecosystem of the soil, look forinformation on the role of each of these organisms and the relationships with the otherforms of life of this environment.
2 - In similar way you have studied the soil ecosystem, you can analyze other ecosystemssuch as the ones in a forest, pond, shore, or desert.
G. and L. Durrell (2) can be useful, or there are many other books on this matter.
An Illustration of a Soil Ecosystem
Protocols for a Soil Ecosystem Approach for Characterizing Soil Biodiversity
Internet keywords: soil ecosystem.
The bottle garden is a close relative of the biosphere: a tiny garden growing inside abottle, a glass sphere, or a demijohn. The main difference is that soil is the maincomponent not water. The container can be kept sealed or opened like a terrarium. Ourswill be more for just plants whereas the terrarium may have animals. These gardens in abottle, can be cured and perfected as a system, they are also very decorative, in fact youcan treat them as a bonsai with not only a single tree, but whole landscapes. A carefullychosen stone becomes a rock, a small plot of moss represents a great prairie. A contorted,little plant is now a hundred year old tree. Maybe a marsh wetlands with peat moss,mushrooms and ferns is more to your liking. Maybe appropriate succulent plants with sandand rocks for a vast desert landscape. The choice is yours. There is no rigid rule aboutbeing either an open or a closed garden. It maybe useful to keep the lid on to retainwater. Or eventually, the plants grow up and need to hang down the outside.
If the container is always sealed, the challenge becomes quite demanding. In fact, it thenis necessary to obtain an equilibrium between plants and animals in order to keep aneffective cycle of substances and energy, but if this is difficult in a predominantlywater environment, it is even more difficult in a just moist environment. So, the gardenhas to contain a moist soil, plants, little animals like terrestrial isopods (i.e.: sowbug, pill bug), earthworms, etc. Plants have to be resistant to high moisture and have asmall size and limited growth. To avoid roots rotten, you can also try to refer tohydroponics and substitute the ground with small sized expanded clay or with gravel. Inthis case you will have more difficulties in hosting animal species, so it will have to beleft open. It is important you place your garden in a cool and well illuminated place, butaway from direct sunlight. Open or closed, a bottle garden is a fascinating thing, and theidea itself of a little and self-sufficient world is fascinating as well. There are peopleso fond of bottle gardens they work at them a long time, taking care of them using longand thin tools and to observe these environments till they imagine to be one of theirinhabitants.
Then choose among these main options:
1 - Opened bottle garden, containing moist ground, plants and possible little animals. Itis suited for people who love taking care of gardens and who have a flair for
the architecture of little wide spaces.
2 - Opened bottle garden, prepared in hydroponics and containing plants. It is suited forthose who tend to forget to water their plants.
3 - Sealed bottle garden, holding moist soil, plants, and some little animals. Thisexercise is suitable for people who are keen on biology and scientific research. They willhave to find appropriate plants and animals suitable for a sealed ecosystem and will haveto achieve the necessary conditions for a long survival. This research, bibliographic inpart and experimental, will keep students happily busy for long time.
The educational value of these little ecosystems is evident. They can be carried out evenin a school, where the teacher will be allowed to illustrate their characteristics topupils and encourage interesting discussions. In the web sites below, you will findimportant practical information in building your bottle gardens.
Terrariums : Miniature Worlds in a Bottle!
BBC online, how to gardening, bottle garden
Un jardin en bouteille
Le terrarium : Un monde miniature dans une bouteille!
Internet keywords: garden bottle jar, jardin bouteille bonbonne.