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Rationale Biomass refers to the mass of living organisms, including plants, animals, and microorganisms. (Encyclopedia of Ecology, 2008). It is also renewable organic material that can come from plants and animals. As biomass contains stored energy from the sun, plants produce biomass through photosynthesis, which is converting light energy into chemical energy. (U.S Energy Information Administration, 2020). Photosynthesis Equation: 6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2. The Carbon Cycle is the recycling of carbon atoms, this is a process where carbon atoms travel continuously from the atmosphere to Earth and return back to the atmosphere. Carbon is a key foundation for living life on Earth, it forms carbon dioxide in which humans and animals breathe in and is a main source of energy. (NOAA, 2021). Biomass plays a fundamental role in the Carbon Cycle, carbon is released or absorbed through biomass by photosynthesis, decomposition, respiration, and combustion. (EarthHow, 2021). Plant biomass is the weight of plant water to dry matter production. Factors which can affect production of biomass are air and soil temperature, soil humidity, light intensity and most importantly plant size. (Theocharis Chatzistathis, 2011). Measuring the biomass of a plant can be calculated by removing biomass by drying the plant in an oven to remove water and weighing the plant after the removal water. This method is used because water content of plants can vary depending on different times of the day and by drying to get a simple “dry weight” allows for a more stable measure of biomass than fresh weight. (Oregon State University, 2007). Plants investigated in the experiment were the following: Asarabacca, Mock Orange, Turk’s Cap, Honey Plant, Malayan Banyan. Asarabacca (Asarum europaeum) “Asarabacca is a curious plant consisting of a very short fleshy stem, bearing two large, dark-green, kidney-shaped evergreen leaves, and a solitary purplish-green drooping flower.” (Botanical, 2021) Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronarius) “Mock Orange is a deciduous shrub (it loses its leaves in the fall) that has a dense, rounded growth habit. It sports oval, serrated, dark green leaves. And it features showy, cup-shaped, four-petaled flowers in the late spring and early summer that stretch roughly 1 to 2 inches across.” (Beaulieu, 2021) Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) “Turk’s cap is spreading shrub, often as broad as high, grows 2-3 ft., sometimes reaching 9 ft. Bright-red, pendant, hibiscus-like flowers never fully open, their petals overlapping to form a loose tube with the staminal column protruding.” (Wildflower, 2018) Honey Plant (Hoya carnosa) “Honey plant feature glossy, elliptic, fleshy, dark green leaves (to 4” long) and tight rounded clusters (umbels) of fragrant white summer flowers.” (L. Grant, 2021) Malayan Bayan (Ficus microcarpa) “A strangling fig that can grow into enormous trees. Young saplings often grow in cracks in old drains and walls and on delapidated buildings. They can grow into large trees with stout prop roots and a curtain of slender aerial roots.” (Nature Garden, 2021) As a result of a large sample of plants, the following research question was developed: How does the types of plants affect biomass over a 5-hour period? Instead of using only one plant to identify the effect of biomass over a 5-hour period, the use of five different plants allowed for results to be expanded to identify if a variety of different plants in the same ecosystem have effects to biomass over drying period of 5 hours. This is important to know as Plant Biomass could be used by farmers or gardeners to determine what types of plants are suitable for their needs, for example if their needs was a plant that doesn’t require much water than a plant with low biomass would be suitable. Original Experiment The methodology used has been adapted from the original experiment from: Oxford Biology for Queensland Units 3 & 4 – Experiment 4.1B: Measuring Biomass www.obook4.oxforddigital.com.au/student/OB391/topics/0101.html The original experiment conducted by Oxford Biology used an oven, desiccator (contained drying agent), and baking paper to compare and contrast wet and dry biomass of several samples of producers (plants). Modifications to Original Experiment To ensure that sufficient, relevant, and refined data was collected the original experiment was changed by changing a number of variables within the experiment. These variables changed were: Modification to Original ExperimentReasons for ModificationsIncreased sample sizeThe reasoning for increasing the sample size of the experiment was to ensure that by having a large number of results provided greater reliable and efficient results in responding to the research question.Use a dehydrator instead of using an ovenBy changing the oven to a dehydrator allowed for the plants to be dehydrated over a long period of time without having to observed throughout the duration of time. The dehydrator was more efficient in pulling out the plants nutrients and moisture which allowed for optimal drying rather than the less efficient oven.Types of Plant ChosenThe selection of plants from the same ecosystem and environment allowed for accurate and less fluctuated results as each plant would receive the same amount of rain, sunlight exposure and are all from within the same soil. Therefore, making the data much more reliable and efficient. Management of Safety and Ethical Considerations To ensure safety within the experiment, safety considerations outlined in the original experiment were followed as well as the following risks: Risk IdentifiedManagement StrategiesElectronic Balance: Can be knocked off bench, with potential injury to feet.Keep back from edge of bench. Danger of electrocution in wet areas or if wiring is defective Keep clean and tidy; remove spilled chemicals immediately. Check wiring for damage each time before use. Test and tag at regular intervals.Plants: Depending on plant species, leaves may be toxic by ingestion, contain irritating or stinging hairs or may stimulate allergic reactions on contact with skin.Using gloves when abstracting plants for experiment and using only leaves that are unlikely to cause allergic reactions.Ziplock Bag: Flammable. May release toxic fumes if burnt. May melt in contact with hot object. Possibility of suffocation if large bag placed over head.Placing Ziplock bag in appropriate waste disposal when not in use, storing Ziplock bag away from any ignitors. Processed Data Table 2: Processed data table for the biomass Interpretation: The data shows the results of the weight of the experimented plants after a five-hour period. From these results, the mean, standard error, standard deviation, confidence interval and the percentage change, was identified for each plant through excel calculations. Standard Error was used in order to measure the uncertainty between each average. The highest standard error between each plant is 0.01 which suggests there was a high precision rate in the determination of results. Analysis of Evidence Figure 1: Biomass of Plants Interpretation: This data shows a graph of each of the five experimented plants, each plant had a series of three tests where the plants were placed in three different dehydrators at 50 degrees and were fairly equal between the recording of results. The starting weight of each plant was 3.30 grams and the weight decreased from a range between 0 to 1.5 grams over the 5-hour period. Analysis: Observed from the data, Turk’s Cap had a major decrease in weight drop of 0.33 followed by Asarabacca (0.53 ±SE), Mock Orange (1.11 ±SE), Honey Plant (1.18 ±SE), and the least decrease of weight Malayan Banyan (1.56 ±SE). Therefore, Turk’s Cap had the largest biomass of each plant due to the decreased loss of weight from the starting weight of 3.30. This is supported by the trendline stating there is a decrease of weight of all plants, but the Turk’s Cap’s results is the one most distant from the decreasing trendline. Figure 2: Mean Biomass Percentage Change of Plants Interpretation: The plants experimented shows a great decrease in mass change as there’s high percentage changes throughout each five plants which can suggest that this experiment was very efficient in linking and identifying the effect of biomass in plants. Percentage change in this figure represents the percentage in which the weight of plants decreased from the starting weight of 3.30 grams Analysis: Linking with Figure 1, the data supports the decrease of weight and the order of the most decreased to the least decreased plant. However, instead of using data from the weight after five hours, percentage change was calculated (shown in Table 2) and the mean for each calculation was plotted. This mean states the average change of weight through a percentage for each plant after five hours in the dehydrator and the trendline shows that the percentage change for each plant is positively increasing. This again supports Turk’s Cap plant as the plant with the highest biomass of each experimented plants as it has a percentage change of 90.10 ±SE. Interpretation and Evaluation From analysed and recorded data within the experiment the research question: (How does the types of plants affect biomass over a 5-hour period?) was answered. Figure 1 and 2 both support and provide sufficient reasoning to how types of plants affect biomass over 5-hour period. This is because the two graphs corroborate each other as in Figure 1, there is a decrease of weight among all five plants and in Figure 2, there is an increase in Percentage change where all five plants were above 50% of change. Therefore, shows the plants had an effect of biomass due to the decrease of weight from the plants. The methodology of the experiment was very reliable. If experimented again another experimenter would obtain quite similar results under the same conditions. The standard error, error bars and confidence intervals were conducted because to recognize the strength and weaknesses of the data and to also identify whether the data is deemed reliable or not. The average percentage change was calculated to compare the difference between each of the plants and to identify if there was a decrease of weight. The results were quite consistent among the three trials for each plant with only a few minor outliers. The outliers were found in Malayan Banyan trial two having an increase weight of 0.14 and 0.16 compared to trial one and three, Mock Orange having an outlier in the first trial by an increase of weight by 0.12 and 0.17 from trial two and three, and Asarabacca second trial having a 0.11 and 0.15 increase of weight from trial one and three. These outliers can be seen in Figure 1. Although, the data included minor outliers the method still produced results that were accurate to answer the research question for this experiment. However, to make this experiment more valid an increased sample size, use of correct measurement systems and dehydrator. Refinements to the experimental method such as an increase sample size, use of correct measurement systems would improve its reliability and liability. Firstly, with an increase sample size any flaws or outliers would be exposed majorly, and data would be more reliable as it allows for all factors to be considered. Secondly, using the same weight scales, modifying the scale to two decimal points, and correctly placing the plants into the same position in each dehydrator would allow for more accurate results with less outliers as shown in Figure 1. With these improvements, the experiment and its reliability and validity would allow for a more enhanced scientific answer. Reference Bibliography Administration, N. O. (2021). https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/carbon-cycle.html. Retrieved from NOAA: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/carbon-cycle.html Administration, U. E. (2020 ). Biomass explained. Retrieved from Eia: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/#:~:text=Biomass%20is%20renewable%20organic%20material%20that%20comes%20from%20plants%20and%20animals.&text=Biomass%20contains%20stored%20chemical%20energy,gaseous%20fuels%20through%20various%20processes. Beaulieu, D. (201). How to Grow Mock Orange. Retrieved from the Spruce: https://www.thespruce.com/mock-orange-shrubs-2132723 Chatzistathis, T. (2011). How Soil Nutrient Availability Influences Plant Biomass and How Biomass Stimulation Alleviates Heavy Metal Toxicity in Soils: The Cases of Nutrient Use Efficient Genotypes and Phytoremediators, Respectively. EarthHow. (2021). What Is the Carbon Cycle? Photosynthesis, Decomposition, Respiration and Combustion. Retrieved from https://earthhow.com/carbon-cycle/ Garden, N. (2021). Retrieved from Ficus microcarpa, a bonsai for starters: https://www.nature-and-garden.com/gardening/ficus-microcarpa.html Grant, B. L. (2021). Wax Plant Care: Tips On Growing Hoya Vines. Retrieved from Gardening know how: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/vines/hoya-wax-plant/growing-hoya-wax-vines.htm Grieve, M. M. (2021). Asarabacca. Retrieved from Botanical.com: https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/asara071.html#:~:text=Asarabacca%20is%20the%20only%20British,in%20woods%20and%20very%20rare. Houghton, R. (2008). Biomass. Johnson, L. B. (2018). Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii. Retrieved from Wild Flower Centre: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=MAARD Wilson, M. V. (2007). 3. How to measure: Measuring vegetation characteristics per area. Retrieved from http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/bot440/wilsomar/Content/HTM-perarea.htm#:~:text=The%20basic%20technique%20for%20measuring,biomass%20than%20is%20fresh%20weight.)


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