Uploaded by Matt Stanczak

BIOL 1260 LAB - Diversity Of Living Organisms

Name___ __
Diversity of Living Organisms
Biology is the study of life. This lab is designed to give you an appreciation for the diversity of life around
you – some of which we can study through direct observation, some requires more complicated methods
such wet suits and snorkels, or microscopes. Since life is so diverse scientists have developed a system by
which living things are categorized. This is the science of taxonomy. It is important to note that although
these categories are well thought through and well defined, the introduction of new species and of new
techniques in biology challenges the current system of classification. This invariably leads to changes
(movement of groups from one category to another or creation of new categories). The currently accepted
categories are:
Species is the most specific classification of the classification system. This group can reproduce among
itself and produce fertile offspring. As you “climb” up the ladder the characteristics of the species are
grouped together in larger and larger categories. A Genus in the Genera category is comprised of species
of similar characteristics. A Family in the Families category is comprised of similar Genera. This
categorizing continues up the “Tree of Life”.
There are 3 Domains:
1. Domain Archaea - includes newly discovered cell types; contains 1 kingdom, the Archaea
(prokaryotic cells); many think they are most ancient group of living organisms
a. Some Archaea inhabit extreme environments such as hot springs, sea vents, boiling muds, &
2. Domain Bacteria has 1 kingdom, the Bacteria (prokaryotes); unicellular; some form colonies
a. We often associate bacteria with human illnesses, but the vast majority of bacteria have no
harmful affect on humans, and in fact, we are co-evolved with bacteria, many of them are crucial
to our survival.
b. Bacteria are used as sources of food, for biological control of pests, as agents of fermentation,
& for the making of foods & antibiotics
c. Bacteria, along with fungi, are the main decomposers of dead organic matter & thus return
nutrients to environment
d. Reproduce mainly by binary fission; some are heterotrophic & rely on other organisms as
organic molecule sources; others are autotrophic & able to make organic molecules they need
3. Domain Eukarya - includes all kingdoms & organisms composed of eukaryotic cells
(kingdoms:protists, fungi, animals, plants)
1. Protists - single-celled & simple multicellular eukaryotes
2. Fungi - single- & multicelled eukaryotic, nonphotosynthetic organisms with thick-walled cells
3. Plantae - single- & multicellular eukaryotic, photosynthetic organisms with thick-walled cells
4. Animalia - multicellular, eukaryotic, nonphotosynthetic organisms with cells that have no
The biodiversity field lab is designed to help you gain familiarity with some native and invasive
species of Georgia. You will carry out a biodiversity survey hiking on natural trails or in state
parks during the Biodiversity lab.
 Print this handout
 Bring a digital camera if you have one (phones will work, if you have a nice camera
with case, feel free)
Each biological species plays a role in the functioning of ecosystems. The contribution by each
species to the transfer of energy, nutrients and matter is called its ecosystem function.
Examples of ecosystem functions are: production of biomass through photosynthesis,
decomposition of organic matter into humus, aid in seed/pollen dispersal, and predation (which
manages prey population numbers), etc. Most species contribute to ecosystem function in
numerous ways, some of which have been formerly studied, many of which have not.
Even though ecosystem processes are often occurring independent of the activities of humans,
many of these processes have direct benefits to humans.
We call these benefits “Ecosystem services”
“Ecosystem services are the conditions and processes through which natural
ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life. They
maintain diversity and the production of ecosystem goods, such as seafood, forage,
timber, biomass fuels, natural fiber, and many pharmaceuticals, industrial products, and
their precursors....In addition to the production of goods, ecosystem services are the
actual life-support functions, such as cleansing, recycling, and renewal (ie. water,
oxygen, landscapes) and they confer many intangible aesthetic and cultural benefits as
well.” (Brown et al. 2007)
To complete the biodiversity project, you will be required to find and identify the following
species and consider it’s taxonomy, its habitat and relationship with other species, its
ecosystem functions, and its ecosystem services.:
 One fungus
 One non-seed plant (i.e., mosses and ferns)
 One seed plant (gymnosperms and angiosperms)
 One invertebrate animal (insects, crustaceans, aranids, etc.)
 One vertebrate animal (amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals)
1. Take a picture* and insert the picture in the assignment sheets.
2. Sketches are optional : If you are so inclined you can sketch finer details of the species
morphology to aid in your own and others understanding.
3. Identify the species: Native or invasive, common name and scientific name (If you can’t
identify it to species level, at least list the Kingdom and Phylum for the specimen)
4. Describe the habitat where you found it, what type of ecosystem services it provides,
and briefly describe its appearance or unique characteristics you have observed.
1. Pictures you submit have to be clear and taken by you. Pictures obtained from online or
other sources are NOT acceptable. Blurry photos will have points taken off. Take your time and
make it look good.
2. Please note that different specimens will have different expectations regarding the level of
information regarding taxonomy. Just do your best.
3. For the description of natural habitat, please provide detailed information that would help
someone find the same organism. For example, you might describe an insect that you found
on a fallen log in a deciduous forest at Yahoola Creek Park in Dahlonega or a bird that
you found in a tree in front of Barnes Hall, Dahlonega campus, University of North
4. This biodiversity project is designed for wildlife field survey. DO NOT take a picture of your
friends or your pets and use it for the “vertebrate animal” in your project.
Taxonomy, Common Name, & Natural habitat notes
Date: 8/3/18
Native or invasive species: Native
Habitat where found: Found Worldwide this fungi helps to breakdown decomposing logs and stumps and
return their nutrients back to the soil. I found this fungus in a damp cool area that will remain muddy days
after a rainstorm and doesn’t receive a lot of sunshine.
Kingdom: Fungi
; Phylum: Basidiomycota
Identify down to the lowest taxanomic group. Trametes Versicolor
Common Name: Turkey Tail Fungus
Ecosystem function: This fungi plays an important role of breaking down decomposing hardwoods on the
forest floor.
Notes, interesting facts or observations and citations used : Although traditionally known to grow on logs,
after the heavy rains Georgia’s had in the past few days this species has grown in a muddy area of
decomposing foliage with light water runoff.
NON-SEED PLANTS (Moss and Fern)
Taxonomy, Common Name, & Natural habitat notes
Native or invasive species: Native
Habitat where found: In a muddy flat area that often has standing water or damp dirt and little sunshine
throughout the day.
Kingdom: Plantae
; Phylum: Moss
Identify down to the lowest taxanomic group. Species: Leucobryum glaucum
Common Name: Leucobryum moss
Ecosystem function: Mosses filter rainwater as well as prevent erosion. They also can be efficient means of
cleaning the ecosystem by filtering acid rain or treated wastewater.
Notes, interesting facts or observations and citations used : This moss is found on damp, bare ground and
thrives in acidic conditions. It is called pincushion moss because it grows in clumps horizontally due to the way
it reproduces rather than vertically like Acrocarpous mosses
SEED PLANTS (Gymnosperms and Angiosperms)
Taxonomy, Common Name, & Natural habitat notes
Native or invasive species: Native
Habitat: Commonly found in the Southeastern United States, the Slash Pine grows in lowland and upland
forests and fields. They have a low tolerance for fire and are therefore found where there is an abundance
of moisture.
; Phylum: Coniferophyta
Other taxonomic information if available: Species: Pinus elliottii
Common Name: Slash Pine
Ecosystem function: Slash Pines grow rapidly in open areas with a lot of sunshine but also require a lot of
water to sustain growth. Slash pines can be a primary canopy species because of their dense foliage which can
serve as a windbreak in coastal areas. Slash pines are also often used for timber.
INVERTEBRATES (Insects, Crustacean, Aranid, etc.)
Taxonomy, Common Name, & Natural habitat notes
Native or invasive species: Invasive from Europe.
Habitat: During winter paper wasps are often found hibernating in cracks or crevice’s like underneath tree
bark. In the spring they build there nests pretty much anywhere the Queen finds a suitable location. The
nest in this photo has been under construction for about three weeks underneath a table umbrella.
; Phylum: Arthropoda
Other taxonomic information if available: Family: Vespidae
Common Name: Paper wasp, umbrella wasp
Ecosystem service: Wasps are an excellent control method for pests like caterpillars and flys. They also
pollenate plants as they feed on nectar.
VERTEBRATES (Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals)
Taxonomy, Common Name, & Natural habitat notes
Native or invasive species: Native in Summer
Habitat: Hummingbirds require an abundance of flowers to sustain their high metabolism. Ruby Throated
Hummingbirds arrive in Georgia around March and leave around November.
; Phylum: Chordate
Other taxonomic information if available: Family: Hummingbird (Trochilidae)
Common Name: Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Ecosystem service: Hummingbirds are major contributors to flower pollination.
Note: There is a hummingbird feeder that most of the time has plenty of activity in the evening hours.
Unfortunately, tonight there was only one, and it was camera shy. I used my DSLR camera with a zoom lens
and was able to snap a picture of him sitting in a tree.
First two shots are out of focus.
Here the green feathers can be easily seen reflecting in the setting sun.
Online Resources for species identification
Here is a list of reference websites that you can consult for identification and relevant
Georgia Museum of Natural History
Museum of Natural History, The University of Georgia
Wildlife Resources Division, Department of Natural Resources, Georgia
Native Plants for Georgia, College of agricultural and Environmental Sciences, The
University of Georgia
Georgia Fungi, The University of Georgia
Widely Prevalent Fungi of the United States
Insect Identification Organization
Insect Images Organization
All About Birds: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Georgia Info: Georgia Birds
Bird Watcher’s Digest
Georgia Info: Georgia Mammals
Museum of Natural History, The University of Georgia
American Society of Mammalogists: Mammals of Georgia
Invasive Species
Georgia Invasive Species Task Force
Invasive Organization
National Invasive Species Information Center, USDA