As summarised in my previous blog,
Practical 5 Setting up sealed mesocosms to try to establish sustainability
Guidance: Mesocosms can be set up in open tanks, but sealed glass vessels are preferable because entry and exit of matter can be prevented but light can enter and heat can leave. Aquatic systems are likely to be more successful than terrestrial ones.
The two key concepts addressed when studying a mesocosm include;
- A mesocosm as a model of a larger ecosystem
- A closed ecosystem, one in which energy enters and leaves but matter does not.
The difficulties regarding the animal experimentation policy and the potential harm to any animals included are widely discussed and I am not in a position to give guidance here.
An interesting place to start is the following animation that walks you through something called a Windogradsky column and the following online game.
I have also come across a wealth of resources compiled by David faure.
I like the Scribbit blog here but you will need to keep out the animals to ensure it stays within the ethical policy
The Imperial College London runs a controlled environment facility
And then there is Biosphere 2 in Arizona desert which is now run by the University of Arizona
Yes it’s not a difficult experiment, but I think it is a worthwhile exercise given that ecologists are using such models in real research in many university labs today. I hope from the above links you will have a sufficient starting point to create your own functioning closed system.
May you have a successful and rewarding 2015