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APES Summer Assignment. Study Site Project. Your Task. Mark off a study site in your neighborhood/backyard and create a detailed nature journal that describes the environment. At least 30 days of journal entries.

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apes summer assignment

APES Summer Assignment

Study Site Project

your task
Your Task
  • Mark off a study site in your neighborhood/backyard and create a detailed nature journal that describes the environment. At least 30 days of journal entries.
    • You must include pictures (drawings and/or photos taken by you NOT from the Internet).
    • The journal may be written or digital.
    • You must include specific information about all parts of your study site.
    • Relationships between organisms in your site (i.e. predator/prey, symbiosis, parasitic, etc.)
    • Trophic levels of oragnisms (producer, consumer level, decomposer)
pick a study site
Pick a Study Site
  • This should be a location that you can easily visit on a regular basis.
  • Mark off an area that is larger enough to study various flora and fauna.
  • The area for your study site must remain undisturbed during your study. Therefore, chose an area where the grass is not mowed, pesticides are not sprayed, children are not playing, etc.
  • The first section of your journal should include detailed descriptions of the four (4) spheres.
  • I included several websites to help you, but you are all very Internet savvy so use all of your resources.
alternate study sites
Alternate Study Sites
  • If you cannot create a study site in your neighborhood/backyard, then below you will find a list of local places. Some places that are local to our area include:
    • A local park
    • LullwaterPark
    • Yellow River Game Ranch
    • Stone Mountain
    • Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve
    • Hidden Acres Nature Preserve
    • Fernbank Science Center
    • Botanical Gardens
    • Any vacation spot
observations of your study site
Observations of Your Study Site
  • We live in a busy world and many of us do not take the time to observe our environment in great detail. I would like you to take this opportunity to experience your environment in a new way. Examine your study site to the fullest. Smell the air, feel the dirt, look and listen for signs of life. Don’t forget to take detailed notes and photographs of your study site.
background the earth system
Background: The Earth System
  • The full Earth system is made up of four overlapping, interacting ‘spheres’.
    • The Pedosphere (geosphere)
    • The Hydrosphere
    • The Atmosphere
    • The Biosphere
how to observe soil characteristics
How to observe Soil Characteristics
  • Describe the type of soil at your study site.
    • What is the texture of the soil?
    • Think about the amount of sand, silt and clay.
    • What is the color of the soil?
    • Does the soil feel gritty or does it stick together when you squeeze it in your hand?
    • When it rains does the water drain quickly or slowly?
    • Sandy soils drain well. Water moves slowly through soil with a lot of clay.
how to observe water characteristics
How to Observe Water Characteristics
  • Identify the type and amount of water at your study site
    • Terrestrial sites: These sites have groundwater. How deep is the ground water? Use plants as indicator species. Upland forest areas have groundwater deep below the surface. Watery lowland areas have water just beneath the surface of the ground.
    • Freshwater marsh: The soil will be muddy with areas of shallow standing water. Cattails are an indicator species of this environment, they will only grow in fresh water.
    • Saltwater marsh: These areas are adjacent to sources of saltwater. Standing water will rise and fall with high and low tide.
    • Moving fresh water: Streams, rivers, brooks. Use Google Earth to try and see the entire watershed. Where are the headwaters (source) of the river or stream? Where does the water end?
    • Standing fresh water: Ponds and lakes are surface expressions of ground water. Speculate about the origin of the pond or lake. Did the pond or lake form from glacial activity (kettle hole)? Does the pond only form during the heavy rainfall of the spring season (vernal pond)? Is the pond or lake man-made? Is there a dam? What is the stage of succession for the pond. Is there a lot of plant growth coming up from the bottom, along the edges or floating on the surface? Is the water deep and clear? What kinds of animals can you see living here?
    • Estuaries: This is where fresh and salt water mix? What is the source of fresh water? What is the source of salt water?
how to observe the atmosphere
How to Observe the Atmosphere
  • Keep a record of the weather daily.
    • You may use media resources to look up the weather for your study site, you do not need to go there everyday.
    • What is daily temperature and humidity?
    • What does the sky look like; clear, partly cloudy, overcast?
    • When does it rain?
    • How windy is it? What factors affect the windiness in your area?
  • Record what you smell in the air.
    • What are the sources of these odors; pine trees, flowers, skunk cabbage, animal waste, salt spray etc….
  • Record any signs of air pollution.
    • Ground level ozone is a pollutant formed in high traffic areas. Certain plants show damages on their leaves as evidence of this pollutant.
    • Smog and Industrial pollutants from factories and business can lead to the formation of acid rain.
observing the biosphere
Observing the Biosphere

Are the leaves of the plant simple or compound?

  • Include pictures of at least 20 organisms – flora and fauna - from your environment. Record as many characteristics as possible for each organism in your environment.
  • In order to identify these organisms in a field guide you will need to make detailed notes of many specific characteristics. Use the internet or a field guide to identify these organisms.
  • It is okay if you cannot name all (or any) of the organisms in your study site. Do your best to at least provide a general name for each organism you include in your journal.

Is the bark of the tree smooth? Is there a pattern?

Does the mushroom

Grow on the ground

or on wood?

Where is the bird

foraging for food?

In the trees or on

the ground?

safely explore
Safely Explore
  • Be prepared
    • Bring these items: sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, water, snack, cell phone, bug spray, binoculars, notebook & pen and a camera.
  • Be wary of ticks when exploring the outdoors.
    • Wear light colored long pants and tuck your pants into your socks.
    • Swipe your pants with a lint roller to help find any hitch hiking pests in hard to inspect places.
  • Be wary of poison ivy
    • If you get exposed to poison ivy, apply rubbing alcohol to cut through the oil.
example how to describe trees
Example: How to describe trees

Dogwood Tree

The leaves are shiny and green on top. They are dull and light green on the bottom. The leaf positions on the stem are opposite. The leaf veins are pinnate and they curve toward the edges of the leaf. The fruits are clusters of 2-4 small red berries.

http://www.plantnative.org/rpl-denjny.htm

Leaf positions

example how to describe shrubs
Example: How to describe shrubs

Winged Sumac

This shrub has compound leaves with 13 leaflets. The leaf stem has ‘wings’. There is a cluster of red berries at the end of each branch.

Bayberry

This shrub has woody stems and thick, waxy, simple leaves. The leaves are dark green and about 3 inches long. They have smooth edges. The leaf veins are pinnate. When crushed, the leaves smell perfumed, like a scented candle.

example how to describe wild flowers
Example: How to describe wild flowers

Fern leafed false foxglove

This wild flower is yellow and cup shaped. There are many small leaves along the stem that look feathery. The flowers are at the end of the stem. The branches are brown and the leaf stem is greenish yellow.

http://www.realtimerendering.com/flowers/flowers.html

Use this website to help identify wildflowers

Sweet Rocket (Dame’s Rocket)

This purple wildflower has 4 petals. Each plant is 1-2 feet tall. The stems are hairy and there are multiple flowers on each stem. The leaves are opposite. The leaves are long and narrow shaped and they are alternate on the leaf stem.

example how to describe mushrooms
Example: How to describe mushrooms

Russula Mushroom:

Purple colored mushroom cap. Gills and cap are brittle and it has a simple stem. The mushroom released purple-black spores.

Use this website. It has a great visual key and an easy key to help identify classes of mushrooms.

http://www.rogersmushrooms.com/gallery/chooser.asp

example how to describe birds
Example: How to describe birds

Snowy Egret

A white wading bird with long black legs and yellow feet. A black bill and yellow markings around the eyes.

Use these websites to identify birds commonly seen in Georgia.

http://www.birdlist.org/checklists_of_the_birds_of_the_united_states/birds_of_georgia_state.htm

example how to describe reptiles
Example: How to describe reptiles

Water Snake- I am not sure about the identity of this snake. Based on the markings it could be a young ‘northern water snake’. I do not recommend picking up snakes!

http://www.esf.edu/pubprog/brochure/snakes/snakes.htm

http://www.wildernesscollege.com/identify-snakes.html

example how to describe amphibians
Example: How to describe amphibians

Salamander (not sure which kind)

It has a brown body. The skin is wet and slimy and it lives in fresh water. It has a laterally compressed tail with black spots.

Red Spotted Newt

Bright orange body with red spots along the sides of the body. Found in the grass, not in the water. Skin was not slimy. About 4-5 inches long.

http://animals.about.com/od/identifyinganimals/ss/amphibianidkey.htm