Definition

What is an indicator?

In the spectrum of biodiversity, an indicator is defined as an organism whose presence, absence or abundance reflects a specific environmental condition.

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How can indicators provide information to ecologists about an ecosystem?

The presence of certain species in an environment can tell us the trends within the ecosystem, which can include pollution, predation, health, conservation, human impact, and other factors that need to be monitored by a scientist to keep that population strong. Certain species that are sensitive to temperatures, air quality, or other natural factors are key to look at in these scenarios.

How do we indicate species in an ecosystem?

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Biomass

The amount of a species in a given area can dictate how they give us information about that area. A higher biomass will lead to intraspecies competition, which will decrease the food supply in the habitat. However, if the species richness gives the animal in question more trophic energy, than that species will increase as well and keep the lesser animals or plants at their carrying capacity.

Predation habits

If the species in question has many predators, it is a good idea to keep an eye of the capacity of that species because ecologists can watch how the relationship between the species and its predators affects how many of them will be present in the ecosystem.

Environmental factors

Any part of the ecosystem, biotic or abiotic, has a major impact on how each species functions. If there is a critical factor in the area that allows all the other organisms to continue living, then that is a good species to track and watch for any drastic changes. This is called the keystone species.

Wetland Indicator Status

OBL (Obligate Wetland Plants)

FACW (Facultative Wetland Plants)

FACW (Facultative Wetland Plants)

Almost always occur in wetlands. Hydrophyte. Will either be submerged, floating, floating-leaved, and emergent.

FACW (Facultative Wetland Plants)

FACW (Facultative Wetland Plants)

FACW (Facultative Wetland Plants)

 Usually occur in wetlands, but may occur in non-wetlands. 

Hydrophyte.

FAC (Facultative Plants)

FACW (Facultative Wetland Plants)

FACU (Facultative Upland Plants)

 Occur in wetlands and nonwetlands.  Hydrophyte. Very tolerant to most climate types.

FACU (Facultative Upland Plants)

FACU (Facultative Upland Plants)

FACU (Facultative Upland Plants)

 Usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands.  Nonhydrophyte.

UPL (Upland Plants)

FACU (Facultative Upland Plants)

UPL (Upland Plants)

 Almost never occur in wetlands. Nonhydrophyte.