Ecologists could determine the population of minks by catching and tagging various minks and releasing them, then seeing how many were caught again. This catch-and-release style of sampling conserves the minks and leaves them unharmed.
Ecologists could study the amount of prey left in the area after a certain amount of time in different seasons of the year. The more prey surviving, the less there should be of minks, and vise versa.
Stream Quality Data & Analysis
The stream is in excellent condition, according to the graph.
The more organisms in Class I or II means higher quality, while more organisms in Class III means poorer quality.
The good quality of the stream is ideal for the mink because there will be plenty of aquatic life, such as frogs, which rely on bugs.
If mainly Class III organisms were found, that would show the stream is of poorer quality, therefore lacking in aquatic life, such as frogs. No frogs would mean no food for the mink.
Water Testing Data & Analysis
High levels of Nitrates and Phosphates can make aquatic plant life grow quickly, sometimes out of control, while no Nitrate or Phosphate could mean no plant life at all. Fish and other aquatic life require dissolved oxygen for survival, so a large amount of dissolved oxygen is ideal. Too warm of water can decrease the oxygen. You want your water’s pH level to be between 6.5 and 7.5, and 7 is completely neutral.
Minks survive in streams, but if they lived near acid mine drainage, survival would be a little harder. There would be less life there to support minks’ carnivorous diet. A mink probably wouldn’t survive in a marsh, mainly because there is too many plants to support other life forms, giving a mink a limited range of food choices.
The higher the temperature, the less oxygen in the water. Also, if there is high turbidity, the predator-prey relations is altered.
Soil Testing & Analysis
Neutral levels of Ph, potash, phosphorous, and nitrogen and very important. Plant life depends on these four characteristics of soil, and if the plants cannot survive and die, and and it will negatively impact the whole food web.
The ideal range for pH would be between slightly acidic 4 to slightly basic 7.5 or 8. You want a medium level for the Potash, Phosphorous, and Nitrogen.
If any of these chemicals are not at the desired levels, then plants will not grow properly, destroying the whole ecosystem.
Positive and Negative Factors
Streams are a good living condition for a mink, but not a stream near a mine or a marsh. The water would be contaminated, and other life forms would be destroyed.
If the soil is not ideal, then plant life will struggle to grow, and other creatures that depend on these plants will not survive, limited the mink on its food.
Negative factors include farmland runoff and acid mine drainage. Acid mine drainage lowers the pH of the stream, killing most aquatic life. Positive factors would be the treatment of the streams, either through limestone treatment or add other chemicals to neutralize the water.
I never realized that the ecosystem was so delicate until this project. Even the temperature of the water can alter and destroy so many aquatic life forms, and that can upset the whole ecosystem.
I found it interesting that too many plants can actually be bad. I would have thought that the more plants meant the better the water. But instead, it can mean pollution.
A topic that I think I would be interested on researching in the future would be pollution from factories. I hate when you drive past a factory with smoke stacks or other forms of pollution, and you just can imagine all the harm they’re doing to the enviroment.