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Decomposers: The end and the beginning. James Danoff-Burg SEE-U Columbia University. Food Sources of the Players in our Ecological Drama. Producers - get energy from sun Consumers - get energy from living tissue Decomposers - get energy from dead tissue. Roles of Decomposers.

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decomposers the end and the beginning

Decomposers: The end and the beginning

James Danoff-Burg

SEE-U

Columbia University

food sources of the players in our ecological drama
Food Sources of the Players in our Ecological Drama
  • Producers - get energy from sun
  • Consumers - get energy from living tissue
  • Decomposers - get energy from dead tissue
roles of decomposers
Roles of Decomposers
  • Break down tissue of dead organisms
  • Convert it into novel tissue
    • Called Secondary Production
  • Make available nutrients for plants
  • Thus, they begin the energy cycling process again by recycling energy back into the community
relative values
Relative Values
  • Most species rich - Consumers
  • Most biomass - Producers
  • Most taxonomically diverse - Decomposers
    • Have fungi, bacteria, protista, and animalia
decomposers at a carcass
Decomposers at a Carcass
  • Vertebrates (macrofauna)
  • Large invertebrates (mesofauna)
  • Smaller invertebrates (microfauna)
  • Fungi (microfauna)
  • Protists (present throughout)
  • Bacteria (present throughout)
forensic entomology
Forensic Entomology
  • Applied succession theory
  • Used to solve crimes
  • Date the time of death or deposition of a body
  • Great accuracy initially, less accurate with increasing time
  • Primarily study beetle and flies
decomposers at a log
Decomposers at a Log
  • Bacteria, Protists, and Fungi
  • Smaller invertebrates (ants and termites)
  • Larger invertebrates (roaches, beetles, etc.)
  • Small mammals
succession involving decomposers
Succession Involving Decomposers
  • Degradative
    • single large resource (log, carcass)
    • resource is exhausted at the end
    • regular progression of species through that resource
    • unidirectional process of succession
      • this is the case for all successional processes
population control
Population Control
  • Producers
    • Bottom-up control (sunlight and resource availability)
  • Consumers
    • Either bottom-up (resources) or top-down (from predation, etc.)
  • Decomposers
    • Bottom-up
    • Explosive population growth with resource availability
today s activity at the brf
Today’s Activity at the BRF
  • How does road intensity affect the decomposer community?
  • Roads detrimentally affect the populations of many species
  • Impact of road changes with group of organisms
    • Some plants and insects only respond a few meters in
    • Larger vertebrates (birds) avoid to 200 m
question and hypotheses
Question and Hypotheses
  • How does road intensity affect the decomposer community?
  • Ho: it doesn’t
  • Ha1: Road intensity decreases diversity of the decomposer community
  • Ha2: Road intensity improves diversity of the decomposer community
study organisms
Study Organisms
  • Necrophagous beetles
    • ecological category for anything feeding on carrion
  • Carrion beetles (Silphidae)
  • Rove beetles (Staphylinidae)
  • Scarab beetles (Scarabaeidae)
  • Leiodid beetles (Leiodidae)
experimental layout
Experimental Layout
  • Three road types (5 of each road)
    • single lane dirt road
      • closed canopy
      • low to no traffic intensity
    • two lane paved road
      • relatively open canopy
      • moderate traffic intensity
    • four lane paved road
      • open canopy
      • high traffic intensity
sampling method
Sampling Method
  • Hanging baited traps
    • 2-liter bottles
    • two flap openings
    • baited with a single chicken thigh per trap
    • left out for 5 days (set out on Sunday)
  • Count richness and abundance of beetles in lab
    • only beetles- no flies
    • flies can fairly easily escape the trap
data collection
Data Collection
  • Go to field
  • Collect traps
  • Count, ID larger beetles, & release
  • Preserve smaller ones with alcohol
  • Count under microscope
  • Sort to morphospecies
analyses presentation
Analyses & Presentation
  • Count, chart, chi-square tests
  • Write up a PowerPoint presentation of entire project
  • Each person makes up two slides
  • Finish everything by 4:30 pm
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