Easily done ecology topic needed for IB Extended Essay

Oct 7, 2004
I'm in need of a topic for my Biology extended essay, which is basically a 4500 word max article along with appropriate field work done, processed and analyzed.

The topic must be in a question format, the answer to that question must be of some value (so we can't do something just for the sake of doing it.)

How can we increase the synthesis rate of enzyme A in plant X? - Said enzyme has such use and increasing A will make X more economically more..etc.

How does the amount of algae in the water affected by X in the environment? - Maybe used as a gauge for water pollution.

Hoping to do something Ecology related and more specifically Ceph related, but I have racked my brains and have failed to find any topic I can really do since I neither have the resource nor expertise to keep a live ceph in a controlled environment, so I'm confined to what's commercially available.
Which would be some fresh squid and the occasional chance of live octo or cuttlefish.

I was originally planning to do one based on the squid's size to beak-size ration, but all the squid's I'll be processing will be juveniles and thus not really reflect anything nor will the result be of any great importance

So here's the question, out of the top of your head, is there a ceph or ecology in general topic that is relatively easy to do without the need to keep a live ceph(s) inside a tank and could be used to make some sort of statement relating to a real issue (pollution, economic value..etc.)
Is there a way you can use your visits to the fishmarket for this? Can you interview the fishermen about what they see and what they catch? Something about the way the landfill in Hong Kong Harbor affects various sea creatures, including cephs? That could lead you to economic value or pollution, as you prefer.

TONMO enables me to use your work to put off doing my own.
What about looking at the diet of whatever your most common market squid is - you could do this by buying fresh squid (do they remove the guts before selling? If so, ask them to sell you some un-gutted ones) and seeing what's in the stomachs/stomach caeca. If it's a species for which the diet is reported in literature, see if you find the same stuff in yours.
Melissa;111358 said:
Is there a way you can use your visits to the fishmarket for this? Can you interview the fishermen about what they see and what they catch?

Very nice topic! A lit review to find out what size the species actually reach, and a length/biomass, and sex ratio survey of what is being sold. Interviews with fishermen might also enquire as to where they're fishing, whether they have noted a decrease in size, wet weight of target species, or the actual species themselves during this time (remember, so-called 'global warming' in the tropics is supposed to result in larger and faster-growing squid; is this being observed?), whether they have had to relocate given exhaustion/depletion of stocks in certain areas, and whether collecting techniques have changed as a consequence.
Well, let me respond to the posts one by one:
@ Melissa:
It will have to be within the technological limits of a secondary school's equipment, Hong Kong's Harbor is polluted, true. But I lack the technological know out nor the proper things to gauge how it affects the environment (and I doubt I'll get a permit to run these field work on site since it's all enclosed). Now Fishermen wise, I once tried talking to one, got shooed away since I wasn't buying (I did specifically only ask when she wasn't busy (waiting for all the customers to move on..etc.) and I couldn't produce solid evidence through a interview since a general trend is not good enough and an analysis of published literature (i.e no lab/field world) will generally not net me a lot of points.
I'd need concrete data (catch size, location, species, individual specimen size) and is also can't be too "broad", generally speaking, I should be focusing on one species, with one variable and the "test" should be able to be repeated or a similar work should find my results correlate to it. I'm trying to narrow everything down, I've actually looked into a lot of the things but the Science teacher has this fascination with something about transect(sp?) and bacteria or other little land-based bugs.

Eeegh, Yes they do sell fresh squid ungutted, but doesn't the digestive tract of a squid pass through the brain and thus whatever stomach content be too small to identify? Remember, I don't have a bank of DNA samples or whatnot to run the stomach content bits against to find out. I actually asked about "diet and stomach content analysis in general, but I got shot down since it was "too trivial" and there's nothing I could really prove with said results. Say if I did a research on soap's effectiveness, I could say how it could help with hospital environments or whatnot, but with stomach content, I really can't think of a real issue that could stem from it. Not saying it's a bad question or field of research, but it's just that somehow, the IB curriculum deemed it "not worthy of investigation if it doesn't directly affect everyday life."

@Steve O
I'm actually looking into getting the fisherfolks in, but outlook doesn't look too bright since I they seem a little reluctant to talk. Will try harder.
Minor apologies for the double post, but I thought this was worthy of it's own post since it's more of an update.

According to the school and International Baccalaureate Organisation, I cannot solicit Steve O for help..nor anyone else on that matter, although I'm quite sure this rule is breached as often as the sun rises every day from the East. And upon much frustration, I cannot do a literature review of the diet of an animal nor interview fisherfolks since I won't be getting any concrete data, since the duration only of this essay along with field work only lasts through from now till September, I can't do anything regarding whether or not global warming is affecting squid size/growth rates and I can't have any data from catch size or biomass/length since I've been told it's not a "contemporary issue" nor a "pressing question".

I keep getting told to do a transect comparing a marine park and non marine park environment, documenting the biodiversity and numbers of animals though...might have to do that since I have to hand in a topic question by Thursday, in which case my question would be "Do marine parks protect the biodiversity of Hong Kong?"

What a bloody pain in the butt, how I hate schools, I bet nobody told Steve O the diet or any paper regarding cephs as "not am issue" or "not a pressing matter" or rebutted with "What are you trying to find with this data?"
My :twocents: is that, while I might approve of the spirit of the rules (that you should have complete ownership of the project, and not have anyone "do it for you" or whatever) that it's crazy not to let you ask qualified people for their perspectives... Although there is secrecy, cut-throat, competitive stuff in science occasionally, far more of the time there is collaboration, enthusiasm, and mutual interest... there are good reasons why academics have conferences to get together and talk about their work!

I don't know what they mean by "help," but I'm shocked if they disallow "advice."
Hey CW I know it's not what you want to do but the marine reserve-non marine reserve idea could be quite interesting. I had a student (2nd year varsity) compare the numbers and size of a local snail (Turbo smaragdus, the catseye snail) on disturbed and undisturbed shores. he compared the aquarium shore (used regularly for teaching) with on in an isolated spot (boat access only) on Stewart Island (NZ's third Isle). He found that not only were there more snails present on the undisturbed shore but they were significantly larger. Anything that you can cite on a CV is useful!!!!

..... I cannot believe that I am posting this in a public forum .... but here's a shocker!

We've found marine reserves up this way consistantly have lower diversity than non-protected areas. Why? I'll not go into it.

One problem Eric. Are you allowed to sample in a marine reserve? You'd need to run 3 transects in non-reserve areas, and at least 3 within (for a spot of replication). Best I keep the rest of this rather sensitive issue in pm's. Reserves have their problems!
Steve O'Shea;112699 said:
..... I cannot believe that I am posting this in a public forum .... but here's a shocker!

We've found marine reserves up this way consistantly have lower diversity than non-protected areas. Why? I'll not go into it.

Interesting, the one (and only) time I've been to Leigh (marine reserve upper North island) I went snorkeling and was astounded at how barren it was! Lots of fish but very few inverts (although I DID see a pair of very tiny squid :biggrin2:). It was quite an eye opener but (until now!) I've never heard anyone else with similar comments about marine reserves.