S3 Students will investigate the habitats of different organisms and the dependence of organisms on their habitat




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S3L1. Students will investigate the habitats of different organisms and the dependence of organisms on their habitat.

a. Differentiate between habitats of Georgia (mountains, marsh/swamp, coast,

Piedmont, Atlantic Ocean) and the organisms that live there.

d. Explain what will happen to an organism if the habitat is changed.





Ashley Brown

Janine Clerici

Melissa Diehl

Heather Howard

Mary Weaver

Table of Contents:


Unit Content:

Mountains:

A mountain is a land mass that projects well above the surrounding land in a limited area usually in the form of a peak. A mountain is generally steeper than a hill. In the Oxford English Dictionary a mountain is defined as "a natural elevation of the earth surface rising more or less abruptly from the surrounding level and attaining an altitude which, relatively to the adjacent elevation, is impressive or notable." Most of the world's rivers are fed from mountain sources, and more than half of the world’s population depends on mountains for water.

Georgia’s mountain ranges lie in the northern part of the state and include the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains. The Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region lies in the northwest corner of Georgia and runs around the Appalachian Plateau. The Blue Ridge lies in the northeastern corner of Georgia and contains the highest point in the state, Brasstown Bald Peak at 4,784 feet above sea level. Georgia’s mountains are older than even the Rockies or the Himalayas. The base of the Blue Ridge is over a billion years old.

The Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains combine to form the mountain habitat of north Georgia including mountains, valleys (elongated lowlands between the mountain ranges, often having a river or stream running along the bottom) and ravines (deep narrow steep-sided valleys formed by running water). The area includes steep cliffs, rocky peaks, caves, streams, rivers, lakes and numerous waterfalls. The rich forest soil of Georgia’s mountains provide for a lush and thick area for a wide variety of plant life to grow. The plant life depends on the elevation. The forest trees growing in this region include both evergreen and deciduous trees such as the mountain maple, basswood, sugar, chestnut, walnut, tulip poplar, beech, birch, white pine, magnolia and hemlock. Some of the plant life growing in the region includes azaleas (GA wildflower), the Cherokee rose (GA state flower), witch hazel, golden rod, cardinal flower and fruit-bearing bushes and trees including blueberry and many varieties of apple.

The wildlife of the mountain habitats of Georgia is also varied in nature depending on elevation. Some of the mountain wildlife includes bats, various birds (e.g., cardinal, eagle…), deer, black bears, wild turkeys, raccoons, foxes, bobcats, turtles, toads, frogs, cottonmouth snakes, largemouth bass and bluegill in the lakes and trout in the mountain streams.

There are many threats to the habitats of the North Georgia Mountains and their inhabitants including, but not limited to, pollution, deforestation, tourism, soil erosion, urban sprawl, and hunting. These threats have far-reaching effects on the delicate balance of life not only in the mountain region but to all of Georgia and beyond. We must educate ourselves and work to protect this wondrous and ancient geographic area.

Pollution takes many forms in the mountain ranges of North Georgia. Factories, power plants and cars release chemicals into the air causing pollution of the air and the rain. This polluted rain is called acid rain. Acid rain can kill trees. It can also get into the water supply and kill animals. We, too, get some of our water from the North Georgia Mountains, and therefore can be affected by this polluted water. Garbage is also a source of pollution in the mountains. Tourists visit the area and leave behind trash. Not only is this trash an eyesore, but it is also dangerous to animals, as they may ingest it or become entangled in it. Tourists also damage the landscape simply by visiting too often, trampling the surroundings, and removing things that they should not, such as rocks or plants.

Urban sprawl is another significant threat to the habitats of the North Georgia Mountains. Humans continue to build houses and developments in the mountains while pushing out the natural inhabitants of the area. Deforestation also causes animals and other organisms to be pushed out of the mountain area because the trees are removed for use by humans and, therefore, the natural inhabitants no longer have anywhere to live. Soil erosion can also occur when the trees are removed from the mountains. Soil erosion is when wind or rain blows or washes the soil away. When large amounts of trees are cut down, this is more likely to occur. When the soil is lost, most plants and trees cannot grow there. Hunting is another threat to the animals of the North Georgia Mountains. In fact, hunting is the greatest threat to the black bear.

While people are the cause of much of most of this destruction, we can also be the solution. We can conserve energy and recycle so that not as much pollution will be put out by power plants and factories. We can use public transportation, walk and ride bikes so that not as much pollution will be put out by cars. We can stop littering and pick up trash. We can stay on the paths and never take anything from nature when we visit the mountains. We can stop hunting animals, especially those that are near endangerment. We can replant trees that have been removed. There are so many things that we can do to conserve and protect the habitats of the North Georgia Mountains. It is our obligation as citizens of this planet, and we must not take this obligation lightly!

Reference:

Aylesworth, T.G. & Aylesworth, V.L. (1988). Let’s discover the states: The southeast. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers.


Holtz, E.S. (2002). Georgia. Pleasantville, NY: World Almanac Library.


http://northgeorgiaphotos.com/photo_of_the_view_from_Brasstown_Bald.htm


http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Multimedia.jsp?id=m-7876


http://www.n-georgia.com/ridge-valley-scenic-tour.htm


http://www.google.com/images

Hunter, R. (2001). Pollution and conservation. Austin, NY: Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers.


Piedmont:


Piedmont means the foot of the mountain.  It takes up about thirty percent of the state of Georgia. The area is known for its rolling hills and intermittent isolated mountains.  Rivers, valleys, lakes, and forests are also found in the Piedmont.  Piedmont soils are extremely weathered and poor in nutrients. The soil is a red color, consisting of decomposed rock or “saprolite,” which is more commonly known as red clay, for which the state of Georgia is famous. 


The Piedmont is located between the Georgia Mountains and the Coastal Plains, in the central area of Georgia. It is part of a larger area called the southern Piedmont, located in the mid-Atlantic/southeastern part of the United States. Other states found in the southern Piedmont include central North Carolina, South Carolina, and eastern Alabama. The boundary separating the Piedmont from the Coastal Plains is known as the “fall line” because the land somewhat falls off as the land shifts from igneous/metamorphic rock and red clay to sand and sedimentary rock.

A variety of different rocks inhabit the Piedmont. Geologists have described the Piedmont as having gone through several years of volcanism, which is what caused the area to become encompassed with rocks and metals. There are areas where isolated rock called granite, have risen above the Piedmont landscape to create features such as Stone Mountain. In the Dahlonega mines of the Piedmont region several stones such as limestone, amethyst and quartz can be found. The Piedmont has also been home to soapstone deposits, mudstone deposits, and sandstone deposits in areas where the ocean once inhabited parts of the surface. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?path=/LandResources/Geography/Piedmont&id=h-2126

The forests of the Piedmont are home to a variety of trees including sweet gum, beech, red maple, elms and birches. The original forests of the Piedmont consisted of oak and hickory trees. The Piedmont now consists mostly of pine trees as most of the original forests were destroyed by European settlers who used the land for cotton and tobacco farming, and then eventually abandoned the area. Plants found in the Piedmont include elf orpine, azaleas, Cherokee roses, irises, yellow Jessamine, cross-vines, and greenbrier. Lichens and mosses are also found growing on much of the granite as well as Confederate daisies.


The Piedmont has three main habitats: forest interior, early successional, and riparian. The forest interior is a very diverse habitat, with a variation in temperature, humidity, and even chemistry. The forest interior makes it possible for an array of organisms to survive in the area. The plants and animals found in this area are highly adaptive due to the evolutional qualities of the physical attributes and terrain of the area. Early successional habitats are ones where plants replace each other over time. These habitats usually start off as weeds that are used as food and cover for small animals such as ground-nesting birds. Disturbances such as logging and burning expose the ground to sunlight and allow early successional plants and the animals that thrive on these plants to flourish. These habitats will not survive without bare-ground exposure and canopies.


Riparian habitats are located near rivers and streams and other waterways. These habitats have a different density and diversity than the plants and wildlife found in the nearby upland environments, as the plants and wildlife are extremely water dependent and are capable of surviving with the occurrence of such natural phenomena as flooding.

http://www.wildlifehc.org/index.cfm


Cities and towns in the Piedmont are rapidly growing. Buildings and roads replace forests and fields, and the animals have fewer places to live. Poor construction practices result in pollution and sedimentation of rivers and jeopardize the fish and mussels that live in the streams and rivers in the habitat. Dams can also cause problems by limiting the range of many different organisms.

http://museum.nhm.uga.edu/index.php?page=content/education/habitats/habitats


The original forests of the Piedmont consisted of oak and hickory trees. The Piedmont now consists mostly of pine trees as most of the original forests were destroyed by European settlers who used the land for cotton and tobacco farming, and then eventually abandoned the area. Plants found in the Piedmont include, azaleas, Cherokee roses, irises, yellow Jessamine, cross-vines, and greenbrier. Lichens and mosses are also found growing on much of the granite as well as Confederate daisies.

http://www.blm.gov/wildlife/pl_11sum.htm

There are a variety of animals (mammals, reptiles, and birds) that inhabit the Piedmont. Many of the animals are also found in other areas around Georgia as well. Animals native to the Piedmont include black bear, opossums, squirrels, Canada geese, ducks, woodpeckers, cardinals, mussels, fish, blue jays, owls, raccoons, white tailed deer, red foxes, snakes, frogs, lizards, and eastern chipmunks. There are even aquatic mammals found in the wetland/swamp areas that occupy the piedmont such as, swamp rabbits, beavers, minks, muskrats, and river otters.

The climate of the piedmont is mild, averaging around 74 degrees Fahrenheit, although the summers can reach pretty high temperatures around 100 plus degrees Fahrenheit. Winters are not very cold, averaging around 57 degrees Fahrenheit, but the occasional snowfall may occur, mostly in the northern Piedmont, where temperatures have reached as low as -9 degrees Fahrenheit.

http://climate.engr.uga.edu/pubs/piedmont.pdf


Reference:


Climatology of the Georgia Piedmont. (1998) Piedmont Climate. Retrieved November 2, 2010 from http://climate.engr.uga.edu/pubs/piedmont.pdf


The New Georgia Encyclopedia. (2004) Piedmont. Retrieved October 22, 2010 from http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?path=/LandResources/Geography/Piedmont&id=h-2126


Partners in Flight. (2010) Southern Piedmont. Retrieved November 8, 2010 from http://www.blm.gov/wildlife/pl_11sum.htm


Wildlife Habitat Council. (2008) Case Studies. Retrieved November 16, 2010 from http://www.wildlifehc.org/index.cfm


Wetlands:


Wetlands include swamps, marshes, and bogs. This type of land area is an area of land that is partially covered with water most of the time. They are often found near larger bodies of water like, rivers, lakes, ponds and the ocean. Wetlands are important landforms. They absorb excess water during periods of heavy rains, absorbing it and preventing erosion and flooding in other places. Erosion is the breaking down of land and soil. Wetlands also prevent roads and land near the ocean from being damaged by waves during ocean storms. Wetlands also serve as a type of water filter. When water passes through a wetland area, it comes out cleaner than it was when it entered. Bacteria and harmful chemicals are removed, along with debris.


Many types of organisms rely on wetlands to survive. Birds, insects, plants, and other animals live in or near wetlands and would not survive without this crucial habitat. In the Southeastern corner of Georgia, there are 700 square miles of swamp known as the Okefenokee Swamp. In the Okefenokee, river otters, snapping turtles, flame birds, marsh rabbits, American alligators, blue herons, bullfrogs, crayfish, rat snakes, green tree frogs, great egrets, woodpeckers, coachwhip snakes, white tailed deer, sandhill cranes, foxes, feral hogs, raccoons, armadillos, muskrats, bobcats, and the Florida black bear are just a few of the types of animals that live in the Okefenokee. Various types of plants like water lilies, neverwets, cypress trees, bamboo vines, cattails, Spanish moss, pitcherplants, orchids, pine trees, and cinnamon ferns. Many insects such as butterflies, moths, dragonflies, spiders and other insects also thrive there.


If the swamps of Georgia were destroyed, it would have a negative effect on the delicate balance of life in other areas. Wetlands are often filled in with dirt to make land to build buildings on for people. When this happens, that part of the swamp will never grow back. In addition to losing valuables species of plants, animals, and insects, we would also lose a majestic and fascinating landscape.


Reference:


Bateman, D. M. (2007). Deep in the swamp. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.


Gray, S. W. (2001). Wetlands. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books.


Johansson, P. (2008). Marshes and swamps: a wetland way of life. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc.


Lenz, R. J. (1999). Longstreet highroad guide to the Georgia coast & Okefenokee. Marietta, GA: Longstreet Press, Inc.


Stone, L. M. (1983). Marshes and swamps. Chicago, IL: Regensteiner Publishing Company, Inc.


Talley, L. (1998). Jackson's plan. Shawnee Mission, KS: Marsh Film Enterprises, Inc.

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