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BIOL 1010 Online CONSERVATION ECOLOGY: MAN?S IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT
OBJECTIVES Discuss the tie between water usage and population size.
Explain water conservation.
Explain the BTU.
Discuss the environmental concerns associated with burning gasoline.
Explain the concepts associated with alternative fuels.
INTRODUCTION Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with each other and their environment.
The scientists that study ecology are called ecologists. Ecologists study ecosystems
which consist of communities of organisms and their environment. A community is the
interaction that occurs among species. The community consists of biotic factors as well
as abiotic factors. The biotic factors consist of the living components of an ecosystem.
Examples of biotic factors are prey, predators, competitors, and parasites. The abiotic
factors are nonliving components of an ecosystem. Examples of abiotic factors are
temperature, water, and air. The totality of all ecosystems on the planet Earth is called
the biosphere. LABORATORY ACTIVITIES
EXERCISE 1: WATER CONSERVATION
As the population of earth continues to increase, we will require more goods and
materials to maintain our standard of living. As such, more of earth's natural resources
will be exhausted and never replaced. Water is one of those resources. It is difficult to
comprehend that a substance that covers 3/4ths of earth's surface could be used up.
But, what is used by organisms is freshwater. The majority of the water on earth is
saltwater. Saltwater can be used if the salt is removed by a process called desalination,
but it is very expensive.
Read the following information and then answer the questions below.
a). USGS Water Science School addresses the general issue of water
b). To see how freshwater is used, visit this website.
c). The World Water Council provides information on the future of water
resources. Conservation Ecology: Man?s Impact on the Environment BIOL 1010 Online QUESTIONS:
1. What percentage of Earth's water is saltwater versus freshwater?
2. What industry uses the largest amount of freshwater?
3. What is a probable outcome of freshwater supplies and its availability if the
population continues to increase unchecked (explain your answer)?
EXERCISE 2: HOW MUCH WATER DO YOU WASTE?
What can you do to conserve water? If you examined any "to do" list you would likely
find "fix a leaky faucet". To give yourself an appreciation for how much water is lost, use
this drip calculator to estimate the water waste. Find a leaky faucet in your home. If you
don't have one, congratulations! In this case, try various drip rates and then answer the
1. How many leaky faucets are in your residence?
2. What is the drip rate of your leaky faucet(s)? How many gallons of water are
wasted every year because of the drips?
3. Compare the slow and fast drip rates of a leaky faucet. Write a brief statement
about the outcomes.
EXERCISE 3: ENERGY CONSERVATION
Energy comes in many forms and is measured by various means. The British Thermal
Unit or BTU is a universal measurement that allows comparison across types of energy.
Read about the BTU and answer the following questions.
1. The electricity usage in your home is measured in Kilowatt hours (kWh). How
many BTUs equal one kWh?
2. How many BTUs are in one gallon of gasoline?
2 Conservation Ecology: Man?s Impact on the Environment BIOL 1010 Online ?????
EXERCISE 4: COMPARING ENERGY USAGE IN HOME WATER HEATERS
Energy guides are the big yellow placards on appliances that tell you invaluable
information regarding a particular appliance?s energy consumption and allow you to
make comparisons between appliances. First learn how to read an Energy Guide and
then do a survey to compare the energy used by an electric water heater versus a gas
water heater. You may use either web resources or go to a store (h.h. gregg, Sears,
Circuit City) to compare the yellow energy guides. Be sure you are comparing
appliances with comparable size and capacity. Answer the questions below.
1. What was the capacity of each of the two water heaters you compared?
2. Based on your investigation, which water heater would be the more energy
efficient choice? Explain your answer.
EXERCISE 5: FUEL
Gasoline is produced from petroleum products, a non-renewable resource. To learn
more about gasoline, what it is, how it is produced, and what it has to do with your car
engine's performance, go the the HowStuffWorks site related to Gasoline. You should
view all the links related to this topic. You accomplish this by clicking the forward or next
page button at the bottom of the page. When you have read all the information, answer
the following questions.
1. Gasoline comes from crude oil as do many other products. What is the main
difference between these products that allows them to be separated and purified
from each other?
2. How many carbons are in an octane? If a car uses 89 octane gasoline, what is
the composition of the fuel?
3. What are three problems associated with cars burning gasoline?
4. How much carbon is released into the atmosphere per gallon of gasoline
3 Conservation Ecology: Man?s Impact on the Environment BIOL 1010 Online ?????
Let's put in perspective what you learned about gasoline and the by-products of its use
in cars. You will begin by calculating miles per gallon and the cost of driving your car or
a friend's car.
5. Calculate the miles per gallon (mpg) for your car or a friend's car. That would be
distance traveled divided by gallons used. This will be an average because mpg
will vary between highway driving and city driving.
6. Let's assume you drive 15,000 miles a year. Based on your calculated mpg, how
many gallons of gasoline will you use in a year?
7. Based on your answers for questions 4 and 6, how much carbon is being
released from your car into the atmosphere each year? If that was converted to
pounds of sugar, how many pounds of sugar would you have in your driveway?
8. How much will gasoline cost you in one year?s time if the price of gasoline is $3.50 a
As your answers to the above questions revealed, there are some significant problems
with using gasoline in our vehicles. In an effort to address these issues, new alternative
fuels are being research and used. Examples of alternative fuels that are making the
nightly news include fuel cell vehicles or hybrid vehicles. To further your understanding,
read the information at a student's guide to alternative fuel vehicles. There are several
links at the bottom of the page. You should pay particular attention to the fuel cell
vehicles, hydrogen, and hybrid vehicles links.
9. Briefly provide a few sentences explaining the differences between fuel cell vehicles,
hydrogen-powered vehicles and hybrid cars.
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