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Dune Ecology Project

Michigans unique dune system!
by

Isaac Jimenez

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of Dune Ecology Project

Michigan's Dunes By: Isaac Jimenez Hr-6 Succession Definition: The process of new organisms replacing older ones over time in a specific community. Primary succession occurs when a new organism appears in a new ecosystem that has never contained life before. An example of primary succession would be when a volcanic island is created and palm trees begin to grow before anything else. Secondary succession occurs when organisms get replaced by other organisms in an area. An example would be when a wildfire burns everything in its track and the ecosystem gets wiped out. Then grass and other new vegetation begin to grow. Succession is demonstrated at Rosy Mounds. Marram Grass was the first species to live on the dunes. This is primary because they were the first to live here. Secondary is represented when new organisms try to move in but are not able to adapt so they are replaced by others that can. Succession Transition Beach to Foredune: High wind velocity forces many organisms to live farther from the lake. This wind wipes out many species that are not able to adapt. On the beach, there is very few and if not any living thing. While on the foredune, Marram Grass fills up the entire area as it is a pioneer species. Also, the sand from the beach to the foredune gains a few nutrients.

Foredune to Trough: The sand begins to get replaced by more soil like sediment. It contains more nutrients so that Marram Grass is replaced by small weeds, bushes and Wolf Spiders. Sun-loving plants begin to live in this stage.

Trough to Forested Dune: The soil is finally very nutrient rich at the forested dune. Organism like Oak trees and sassafras trees replace small shrubs and weeds. Insects are replaced by birds and small mammals. The wind is about gone by this stage.

Succession happens because the nutrient levels in the sediment differ from each stage providing good amounts for different plants. Also, the amount of wind decreases the farther from the beach you get while the shade increases. Succession occurs in my everyday world in my driveway. During the spring, grass begins to grow in the crevices of my driveway. Then, when a storm hits, weeds start to grow where the grass both died and once lived. Marram Grass Role of The Great Lakes The Great Lakes Dunes are majorly affected by The Great Lakes. The Great Lakes create many strong winds with high velocity that move the sand into the formation of a dune. The wind from the lakes are also always changing the landscape of the dunes. Sand is made up of many different components. It contains Quartz, Feldspar, Garnet, Magnetite and Biotite. Sand Dunes need three ingredients in order to be formed. The first is a source of sand. The Great Lakes got their source of sand from glaciers 10000 years ago. They dropped both sand and dirt. The second ingredient is prevailing winds. The dunes get wind from the Great Lakes. The last ingredient is vegetation that traps sand. That plant is known as Marram Grass. It keeps sand stable and in place with its long fibery roots. Marram Grass is a very important part of the Great Lakes Dunes. It has very strong roots with rhizomes that allow them to live in very windy environments by anchoring them to the ground. Marram Grass also has Large grass blades that help keep water in its system so that it can live on dry sandy ecosystems. The very tall height can also keep pace with the never-ending shifting of sand. It s low need for water and nutrients help it survive through winters and droughts. Finally, Marram Grass can bloom from the month of April to the month of September. These characteristics make it well-suited for our Great Lake Dunes. Animals Seagulls are found soaring above the Beach. They like to eat insects and small fish. They have very large eyes to find their prey hiding in the sand. Wolf spiders are found on the Foredune. They eat small insects for food. If the heat becomes to unbearable, the Wolf spider will tunnel underground to stay cool. The Red fox live in the Trough. It is very small, sleek, and fast. The Red Fox has sharp claws to bury their food underground for later. They also hide in the tall grass. White-Tailed deer live in the Forested dune. They are fast and agile. Their brown fur helps them blend into their ecosystem covered with large trees. Plants Foredune- Marram Grass

Trough- Sand Cherry, Pitchers Thistle, Wormwood, and Oak trees.

Forested Dune- Sassafras Trees, Oak Trees, and Hemlock. Importance of Dunes Our Great Lake dunes are very important because they are one time thing whichwill never happen again. Also, our dunes are home to many unique species that live only on this ecosystem. Our dunes also provide a real natural recreational place for people to visit and spend time with nature. Another way they are important is they bring people worldwide just to study and examine our dunes which give our state money. A final reason is they are not only a one time thing, but only appear here in Michigan. Nowhere else is there Fresh water dunes like ours.

We have passed a law that limits the amount of building on our beaches and dunes. We have also prohibited some parts of our dunes from the open public to keep it safe and natural! Reflection Report I found the different stops were the most interesting. It was very fascinating and cool to learn about each unique stage of succession. The differences and changes from stop to stop gave me a better breakdown of what lives where and what happens to the dunes the farther away you get from the lake. The amount of Marram Grass in the Foredune was amazing. It looked like a giant wave of vegetation when the wind blew hard. I believe people should protect our dunes because they are very beautiful and one of a kind. Our dunes are a symbol that Michigan is a unique place with ecosystems like no other. We should protect every part of it from the Biotic to the Abiotic factors. Our dunes are once in a millennium.
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