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Environmental Study

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INTRODUCTION

Our ecosystem shows interaction between different organisms. Every living organism has a vital role in functioning of ecosystem. Three most common participants in the ecosystem are Plants, Insects and Birds. The common birds that are found in my locality are cuckoo, common house sparrow, parrot, eagle, owl and blue rock pigeon. The common plants that are found in our area are tamarind, gulmohar, papaya, tulsi, neem, banyan, and banana. The common insects that are found are earthworms, caterpillars, butterflies, housefly, dragon flies, ants, cockroach, mosquitoes, grasshopper, ladybug, honeybee and spiders.

Grass is eaten by insects which are in turn eaten by birds. This represents a food chain. Plants provide a home for birds and insects provide food for birds. In other words birds are associated with plants and feed on insects - insects feed on plants and are preyed upon by birds. Apart from these two way associations there also exists an intriguing three way association among birds, plants and insects.

PLANTS

Plants are one of five big groups (kingdoms) of living things. Plants include familiar types such as trees, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The scientific study of plants is known as botany. A plant needs sunlight, carbon dioxide, minerals and water to make food. A green substance in plants called chlorophyll traps the energy from the Sun needed to make food. Chlorophyll is mostly found in leaves.
Following are the few most common plants found in our locality:
BASIL OR TULSI

Basil is a one of the commonly grown garden plants in India due to its religious significance. It is usually planted as saplings and need plenty of water. It cannot stand direct sunlight but likes warm weather.

MARIGOLD PLANT

Marigold is also a flower that is used in pujas and religious ceremonies. This plant too is planted as a sapling. It needs humus-rich black soil and plenty of bright sunshine.

MONEY PLANT

This is one of the easiest plants to grow at home. You just need a stalk of money plant and put it in water or soil. This is an indoor plant. It needs lots of moisture and almost no sunlight.

HIBISCUS PLANT

Hibiscus plants are very common in India and they too have religious significance in Hinduism. Saplings are widely available and the plant is easy to grow. This plant needs lots of sunshine and water twice a day. So it needs to be pruned often to keep it in a flowering condition.
BOUGAINVILLEA

Bougainvillea is a climber plant. It grows like a bush on top of walls and gates. This flowering shrub does not need too much water or care. It grows at a breakneck speed and can soon turn wild. So it needs to be pruned very often.

INSECTS

Insects are a class of invertebrates that have a three-part body (head, thorax and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and one pair of antennae. They are among the most diverse groups of animals on the planet. Insects may be found in nearly all environments. The life cycles of insects vary but most insects hatch from eggs. Adult insects typically move about by walking, flying, or sometimes swimming.
Importance of Insects

Without insects, our lives would be vastly different. Insects pollinate many of our fruits, flowers, and vegetables. Insects are very important as primary or secondary decomposers. Without insects to help break down and dispose of wastes, dead animals and plants would accumulate in our environment and it would be messy indeed. Insects are underappreciated for their role in the food web. They are the sole food source for many amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
Following are the few common insects found in our locality:
BUTTERFLY

Butterflies are beautiful, flying insects with large scaly wings. Like all insects, they have six jointed legs, 3 body parts, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, and an exoskeleton. The three body parts are the head, thorax (the chest), and abdomen (the tail end).
The butterfly's body is covered by tiny sensory hairs. The four wings and the six legs of the butterfly are attached to the thorax. Butterflies are very good fliers.

DRAGONFLY

Dragonflies are most often found near water. As a larva, it eats tadpoles or small fish. As an adult it eats other small insects, primarily mosquitoes, and it is considered useful for controlling the mosquito population. Dragonflies are carnivorous in both larval and adult stages. It can be any color and range in size by species from one to five inches. Their antennae are very short.

LADYBUG

The ladybug is a small colourful beetle found all around the world. There are thought to be more than 5,000 different species of ladybird in the world, with more than 450 species found in North America alone. The ladybird is best known for its spotted body (normally red and black, but often orange and yellow are found). Ladybirds are small sized insects rarely growing to more than a centimeter in length. Ladybirds have legs that are black in colour and their brightly coloured shell protects the wings of the ladybird which are concealed beneath the spots.

HONEYBEE

The honey bee is a small sized bee that inhabiting quiet forests, jungles, meadows and gardens all over the world. There are only 7 recognized species of honey bee out of 20,000 different bee species found worldwide.
The honey bee is primarily involved in the production of honey and is today found worldwide. The honey bees build and inhabit a hive, run by their female queen honey bee that populates the hive. The honey collects nectar from flowers which it takes back to the hive to be turned into honey. At the height of the summer, over 40,000 honey bees can be found inhabiting just one hive.

SPIDER

All spiders have 8 legs. Spiders spin webs that they use to catch food in. They have glands that make silk. They are 7th in the world when it comes to diversity among their populations. Antarctica is the only continent in the world where you can’t find spiders. Most spiders don’t live in the bodies of water, only a few species. They are able to live in all other types of habitat. They don’t have antenna which is what separates them from insects.

BIRDS

There are birds around us everywhere, some living in parks and gardens near our homes and some even sharing space with us in the heart of the city. It just takes a little curiosity to identify and know a little more about these direct decedents of the dinosaurs and develop a green hobby that can give you a lifetime of pleasure for free .Some of our birds are well adapted to a life around human settlements and indeed many can be found only around habitations.. Not all the species are common in all the cities and some do not even occur in some places.
Common Birds Of India

Bird watching in India is one of the most pleasurable experiences; Apart from the bird parks and sanctuaries one can also spot variety of birds around the city and villages. Some common birds of around the house are Indian sparrow, Rock Pigeon, Common white Crane and Indian Myna. Some of the common city birds now also fall in the category of endangered species of birds due to loss of habitat and pollution. Following are the common birds of India:-

COMMON MYNA

Common Myna has Vinous-brown body, black head and yellow orbital area, sexes alike. They are bold and aggressive, noisy, usually seen in pairs. Often feeds on the ground and has a varied diet which includes kitchen waste, Roosts communally in great numbers, nests in abandoned tree holes or buildings. They are usually found around human habitation, open country, farmlands, cities and hills up to3100m.They are widespread resident across the country.

ROCK PEGION Rock Pigeon has steel blue-grey with 2 broad wing bars, broad blackish band at tip of tail, feet red. Feral birds widely occur in cities and come in varied plumages including very dark birds, sexes similar.
They are gregarious and bold. Large flocks attend favored feeding areas which include granaries and cultivation. They feed on seeds and shoots.
The natural habitat consists of rock faces but feral birds occupy human’s constructions and found at elevations up to 3400m. Widespread resident across the country - one of the most commonly met bird anywhere in India.

ROSE RINGED PARAKEET

Parakeet has slim green parakeet with a bright red beak and greenish grey feet, lacks maroon shoulder patch, males have a black and rose collar which the female lacks. They are noisy and gregarious, the species moves in fast moving flocks to feed on a variety of plant matter including fruits and crops, well adapted to city life, Rose-rings are also popular in the cage-bird trade. They roost communally in huge numbers and nests in tree holes. They usually dwell in woodlands, mangroves, grassland, open farmland, parks, gardens and human vicinity .Widespread resident across the country and up to 1600m in the hills.

HOUSE CROW

House Crow has Unmistakable Note grayish collar on black plumage, Sexes alike. They are bold, smart and very adaptive; this gregarious species is an omnivorous and opportunistic feeder. Many roost in large colonies though breeding pairs roost together in their territory. Pair bonding is strong. Nests in trees and is brood-parasitized by the Asian Koel. They dwell near human habitation including very small settlements, widespread resident across the country and up to 2000m in the hills.

HOUSE SPARROW

The cinnamon-brown male has grey upper tail coverts, white ear coverts and large black patch in centre of breast. The duller female has black streaks on back and two whitish wing bars. They are familiar companion of humans - chirpy and cheerful. Numbers seem to be declining lately and one cause could be lack of suitable nesting sites. Mainly a seed-eater, House Sparrows has a mixed diet which includes insects. Usually seen in pairs, they move in small flocks and roost communally. They make nests exclusively in human dwellings grassland, farmlands, towns, cities, human habitations etc.

INTER-RELATIONSHIP

Association between Plants and Birds:

Food: The parts of plants eaten by birds are nectar, flowers, fruit, seeds, leaves and succulent stems. Plants also provide a home for insects and their allies and these are preyed upon by birds.

Shelter: Both Insects and Birds need plant cover to escape from enemies and avoid predation.

Water: Birds need water for drinking and bathing. In addition to creeks and streams water is also found in rock pools and tree crevices. Birds also use wet foliage for bathing. Water also acts as a breeding ground for many insects.

Perches: Birds use perches not only for foraging but also for preening and resting. High perches such as dead twigs and, branches are used by birds as vantage sites for detecting predators, intruders and for singing. Song functions to attract mates and repel intruders.

Nest Sites: Birds use plants to gather nesting material such as bark, leaves stems and roots. Birds build their nests in grasses, sedges shrubs and trees. Old trees like eucalypts have hollows which birds use as nest sites.

Associations between Insects and Plants:
Plants provide food for an enormous assemblage of insects. Insect species may feed on a wide range of plant species; a few species are highly specific and feed on only one species of food plant. Insects have modified mouthparts for chewing or sucking. Depending on what plant parts they eat insects can be classified as leaf eaters, sap feeders, wood and bark feeders, gall inspects and seed eaters.
Plants provide shelter for insects and so that helps the insects escape from enemies. There is intense predation pressure on insects by birds and insect parasites. Insects have counteracted this predation by developing extraordinary defensive and offensive behaviour to avoid and minimise predation.

Association of Insects and Birds:
Predators of insects include birds, spiders, other insects such as predatory beetles and bugs, parasitic wasps and flies. Many bird species consume vast numbers of insects.
We have seen that insects use plants for their survival (food and shelter) and reproduction (egg laying sites, larval food, and pupa attachment), so what do plants get out of their association with insects? Insects pollinate plants and thus play an essential role in plant reproduction. Flower structure has undergone extraordinary development to ensure that cross pollination occurs. Some flowers even mimic insects.

A simple food chain depicting the intriguing relationship between Insects, Plants and Birds is shown below:

CONCLUSION

The above discussions focused on the study of common plants, insects and birds that are found in our locality. The most common examples of each category were taken up so as to establish an effective understanding of the individual components as well as the inter-relationship possessed amongst them.

Through the above study it was quite evident that all the three subjects i.e. insects, plants and birds comprise of a major portion of our ecosystem and are massively responsible for the ecological balance and the sustainability of our environment. Ecosystem, as we know, is the basis of our whole world without which, we can no longer think of living, is balanced by these major components.
Our life, as we know is a domino effect. All of Earth’s beings affect one another. Well, we all balance each other I should say. Without it, we wouldn’t be living. An ecosystem is what this is, without it we wouldn’t have anything!!

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