When you tell someone where you live, you often tell him or her about the area in which your home is located before you mention the specific address. You may say “near the mountains”, “on the mesa”, “in the desert”, or “by the river bottom.” By saying this you are furnishing important clues about the unique characteristics of your local environment: the climate, soil, vegetation, animal life, and even human’s use of the part of Utah you call home. All of these factors form what are sometimes called the “ABC’s of the environment.”

In the ABC’s of the environment, “A” refers to the abiotic (physical, non-living) features of the area. “B” identifies the biotic (plant and animal) component of the environment. “C” is the cultural (human) influences. Some ecologists think of the ABC’s as forming a triangle with inter-relating sides. In a civilization as complex as ours, no single side can exist uninfluenced by others.

Your task is to create an ABC PROFILE and to ANALYZE the data you collect in your profile.


Your ABC Profile will identify the ABC’s of a natural environment near you. To make your ABC profile, follow the instructions below.

1. Select an area that is undeveloped (i.e. no buildings, no pavement, no bulldozing, no spraying of pesticides, no farming, no grazing, etc...). Your area must be at least the size of a football field. For some this will be an easy walk from their homes. Others will have to travel quite a distance??lucky you!! You can think of it as a field trip. Make a map of Utah and show, approximately, where your area is located in Utah.

2. Identify the at least 10 “A” (abiotic) features of your area, including: (Estimates are acceptable.) Consider things such as:

  • landforms (mesa, mountain, valley, bench, etc..
  • altitude
3. Identify at least 15 “B” (biotic) features of the area. (You may use common names.) Consider things such as:

  • plants (trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, etc...
  • insects (ants, bees, praying mantis, etc...)
  • amphibians, reptiles, and/or fish

4. Identify at least 3 “C” (cultural) components. Look for evidence of man’s influence. Consider things such as:

· recycling, conservation efforts

· pollution

· introduced species


Examine the data you collected when making your ABC profile. Use your collected data to answer the following questions. USE COMPLETE SENTENCES TO ANSWER ALL THE QUESTIONS!

A. What effect does the environment (abiotic) have on the organisms (biotic) living there? Give FIVE specific examples from your profile. [For example: Lily pads (biotic) are able to grow in my area because it is a natural wetland that has standing, stagnant water (abiotic) all year long. ]

B. What effect do the organisms (biotic) have on the environment (abiotic)? Give THREE specific examples from your profile. [For example: The area is heavily shaded by spruce trees (biotic). The shade keeps the soil moist (abiotic) and reduces the air temperature.]

C. How do natural forces affect the area? Give ONE specific example from your profile. Consider the direction of the prevailing winds, the direction from which the sun’s rays come, gravity (if you are on a slope), etc…

D. How have humans affected your area? Give ONE specific example.

E. Predict how your area would change if the amount of rainfall doubled. Be sure to mention how this increase in rainfall would affect the abiotic and biotic factors.

F. Diagram the path of energy through the ecosystem you studied. Remember in Assignment 1.3 we discussed the concept of “Energy flows”. (Re-read it if you do not remember.) This is your chance to apply the concept. Show where the energy comes from, at least two organisms that capture and/or use the energy, and where the energy eventually goes. HINT: Most of the Earth’s energy comes from the sun. Plants, through a process called photosynthesis, capture the sun’s energy and make it usable to other living things. Here is an example of a four step energy pathway. (You may NOT use my example!)

1. Energy from the sun is captured by the bean plant through photosynthesis

2. Energy is transferred from the bean leaf to the grasshopper when the grasshopper eats the bean.

3. A robin gets energy from the grasshopper when it eats it.

4. When the robin flies energy is lost in the form of heat. The heat dissipates to space.

Now describe your own 4 step energy pathway using organisms found in the area you studied.

Send the completed ABC Profile and the Analysis to me. If you have completed the Profile as outlined and have used complete sentences to adequately answer all the analysis questions, you will receive a good grade.


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