Discussion, Conclusions, and Further Questions
The goal of this study was to determine what changes occurred as pools of water were cut off from Lower Lake Mary. The hypothesis was that the main body of water would be healthier, showing 'better' water quality and more species of life. This study indicated that there are many other factors that interact as smaller bodies of water become isolated from the main body of water at Lower Lake Mary and that, in general, the hypothesis was false.
The results of this study are best observed by looking at the available graphs of the data. As a general rule, the observed characteristics were in inverse relationship to the size of the body of water as shown in tables. As the body of water became larger, usually the value of the observed characteristic became further from what would be expected in good water. In terms of water quality, the assumptions were;
a. pH values closer to 7 would indicate higher water quality
b. Lower hardness values would indicate higher water quality
c. Higher water quality would have more living species in it
d. Higher water quality would be found in relation to higher concentrations of oxygen.
In the comparison for the pH of the water samples from site A, which was the smallest, also had the lowest pH value and did not fit the decreasing pH pattern found for most of the other sites(as shown in chart D.2). Sites B, E, and D were in an inverse relationship to their sizes and site C nearly fit hat pattern also. An explanation of why site A was so out of line with the others may be that it had an advanced state of evaporation and due to the small volume of water it may have been suffering from some extreme effects of biochemical changes. This merits additional study. Except for the smallest site, the water samples had pH values that were appreciably on the basic end of the spectrum. The reasons for these 9+ pH values would be another suggested topic for further study.
Water hardness was close to what the original hypothesis had anticipated. The larger the body of water, the lower the hardness (as shown in chart D.3). This was perhaps due to the evaporation of the water leaving the minerals behind and increasing the concentration of minerals in the water left behind. This topic should also be explored further in the future.
The number of living species (as seen in chart D.4)showed a general decrease in quantity as the size of the pond grew larger. Once again the smallest site did not fit the pattern displayed by the others perhaps for reasons that were mentioned in the pH discussion. Reasons for the relationship between pond size and number of species observed may include the fact that it was possible to observe the middle/bottom of the smaller sites while those areas of the larger sites were not visible.
The oxygen levels in the ponds showed a general decreasing level as the size of the pond became larger (as seen in chart D.5). The smallest size pond was once more different from the basic trend. Again, due to its small size, some biochemical process probably affected these results. For the rest of the ponds, the results were in opposition to the initial hypothesis. It was expected that dissolved oxygen levels would have been highest in the largest bodies of water. This would require further study and one possible answer could be that smaller ponds allow light to reach the bottom allowing for faster and greater photosynthetic reactions.
Finally, temperature readings from the sites did not show any pattern and no conclusions can be determined from the data. (See chart D.6) The carbon dioxide levels were generally zero, indicating a high level of photosynthesis in all the water bodies. The lack of any other pattern limits any other analysis of these factors.
Further studies should include a day to day analysis of an individual pond from its initial isolation to complete disappearance. This would show the changes of the water conditions in an individual pond over time and avoid one of the limitations of this study which was a lack of control of unknown variables such as time of isolation and possibly improve the observation of species changes through the life cycle of the pond. This would provide information to determine if the effect seen in the smallest pond, 'A', was due to a decreasing level of photosynthesis and a subsequent die-back of the algae/plant life and an increase in anaerobic bacteria levels.
Methods & Materials
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