Ferns and Syringa both thrive in cracks
Upon the plants, more than 175 species of vertebrates depend. Woven into this living fabric are thousands of species of invertebrates and microscopic organisms, each occupying niches only they can fill. With time comes the accumulation of soil in Craters' crevices and an increasing diversity of life. Biomass, or the total weight of all the living things in an area, also increases as a flow ages. Over eons the land loses its volcanic identity to the ever more complex array of plants and animals that colonize the surface. At most of Craters, however, life is fresh and new; a mere 2,000 to 15,000 years have passed since an eruption cremated what lived before.
Life at Craters proceeds along a path defined by extreme heat and cold, a lack of water and soil, and competition between living things for limited resources. Every few thousand years the path abruptly ends beneath a wall of lava and life's clock is reset to zero.
Studying the interrelationships along the way is the study of ecology. You and your class will examine Craters' ecology in the following activities and on your field trip. You will learn how living and nonliving parts of the Craters' ecosystem are interconnected and how plants and animals are adapted to their habitats. Through the study of ecology, you will deepen your understanding of the way of life, its limitations, and our connections to it.
Back to Activities: Time Line - Ecosystem - Adapt - Web of Life