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Introduction to Algae and Aquatic Plants

Aquatic plants and algae live in the water and are autotrophic, which means they can produce their own food. All other living organisms rely on autotrophs for energy and nutrients. Many marine animals also rely on aquatic plants and algae as habitat. All animals also depend on the oxygen produced by autotrophs.

<p><strong>Fig. 2.1.</strong> Kelp forest dominated by the brown macroalga <em>Macrocystis pyrifera</em> or giant kelp</p><br />


Ocean Literacy Principles

Principle 4: The ocean makes Earth habitable.

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere originally came from the activities of photosynthetic organisms in the ocean. (OLP 4a)

 

To build an understanding of how the ocean makes Earth habitable, it is important to learn about autotrophic organisms and photosynthesis.

 

These concepts will be explored in this unit through the following activities and investigations:

Activity

Activity: Effect of Light Wavelengths on Photosynthesis

Investigate the effect of wavelength on the rate of photosynthesis using the aquatic plant Elodea.

 

Principle 5: The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Ocean life ranges in size from the smallest virus to the largest animal that has lived on Earth, the blue whale. (OLP 5a)

 

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Some major groups are found exclusively in the ocean. The diversity of major groups of organisms is much greater in the ocean than on land. (OLP 5c)

 

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Ocean biology provides many unique examples of life cycles, adaptations and important relationships among organisms (such as symbiosis, predator-prey dynamics and energy transfer) that do not occur on land. (OLP 5d)

 

To build an understanding of how the ocean supports a diversity of living organisms and ecosystems, it is important to learn about the biology of autotrophs.

 

These concepts will be explored in this unit through the following activities and investigations:

 

Activity

Activity: Identifying Cells and Cell Parts Using a Microscope

Observe the cell membrane, cell wall, and chloroplasts of an aquatic plant.

Activity

Activity: Structure of Algae with Comparisons to Vascular Plants

Identify parts of algae and compare algae to vascular plants.

Activity

Activity: Algae Identification with Dichotomous Key

Identify algae genera using a dichotomous key.

Activity

Activity: Making Algae Presses

Construct algal presses to preserve algae.

Question Set

Question Set: Behavior

Representative Image: 
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.