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Education
Plant Diversity
 

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lab, students should know...

What early adaptation allowed plants to survive in dry terrestrial environments without desiccating?

The development of a waxy coating, called the cuticle, prevents moisture loss through the surface of the plant. Functional stomata also contribute to moisture retention by closing during dry conditions.

What terrestrial adaptation allowed land plants, without the buoyancy of water, to support their own weight and grow tall?

Vascular tissue within the shoots of plants provides structure and support, in addition to other functions involved in water and nutrient transport.

Name three ways in which sperm are able to travel to eggs during reproduction of land plants.

Sperm can swim though moisture, travel by wind, or be carried by pollinators to reach eggs.

What are the differences between angiosperms and gymnosperms?

Angiosperms include flowering and fruiting plants, with pollen carried by the wind or transported by pollinators. Gymnosperms are non-flowering plants with pollen carried by wind.

What risks are posed by the human transport of plants to new areas?

Plants transported to non-native areas may lack competitors or predators in their new environment. As a result, these species may become invasive, outcompeting native plants and disrupting the local ecosystem.

List of Materials

  • Ruler
    1
  • Magnifying glasses
    1
  • Antheridia prepared slide
    Dependent on the lab size
  • Archegonia prepared slide
    Dependent on the lab size
  • Stomata prepared slide
    Dependent on the lab size
  • Pollen grains
    Dependent on the lab size
  • Compound microscopes
    Dependent on the lab size
  • Dissecting microscopes
    Dependent on the lab size

Lab Prep

  1. Observing Plant Adaptations
    • To begin, first remove the compound microscopes from storage, and place them at the appropriate stations around the room, then place one dissecting microscope at each station. NOTE: One set of microscopes for a group of four students works well.
    • Next, acquire prepared slides of moss antheridia, moss archegonia, onion stomata, and conifer pollen, and then place one slide at each microscope station.
    • Now, set out materials needed for plant analysis, like rulers to measure plant height, and magnifying glasses to analyze leaf venation.
    • Finally, before the lab, identify outdoor locations where students will be able to identify plants from all three of the major groups. Multiple locations with different habitats may be necessary. IMPORTANT: Remind students to wear appropriate protective gear for the field setting.

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