Rita - Bactrian Camel - Animalia Chordata Mammalia Artiodactyla Camelidae Camelus Bactrianus

Checklist (Objective 1 & 2):
Check (√)
Make a checklist

Make a vocabulary list

Watch the Brainpop "food chain" video

Complete the quiz and upload to wiki

Find out the difference between "food chain" and "food web"

Describe the two in wiki

Give a basic description of my animal in wiki

Get a book about my animal from the library

List other animals in my animal's habitat

Make a poster of my animal's food web and upload picture it to wiki

Describe the roll of a decomposer

Describe what an environment is

Describe my animal's environment

Make a list of non-living factors in my environment and explain how my animal has adapted to it

Explain what an ecosystem is

Describe my animal's ecosystem

Watch the Brainpop "symbiosis" video

Complete the quiz and upload to wiki

Explain what symbiosis is in wiki

Describe my animal's adaptations

Brainpop quizzes:

What is a "food chain"?
A food chain is a system of animals relying on each other to survive. The food chain is made up of three basic classes, which are the producers, the consumers, and the decomposers. Producers are generally plants (or plankton, in case of an aquatic environment), and they live off of sunlight and water, making their own nutrients, or "food". This process is called "photosynthesis". The consumers are animals that eat the producers, and there are two kinds of consumers. The first class is the primary consumer, and animals belonging to this class only eat plants. In other words, they are herbivores. Secondary consumers, on the other hand, eat primary consumers, and are called carnivores. Some animals, such as humans, eat both producers and primary consumers, and are called omnivores, but are usually classified as secondary consumers. Last but not least, are the decomposers. These creatures are usually bacteria or fungi, and they help in reusing the corpses of producers and consumers. A food chain is very fragile, and can collapse easily if the number of one of these three classes is changed greatly. For example, in the food chain below, if the lion population is eliminated, then the giraffe population will grow, eating up all their food, which are the trees.

What is a "food web"?
A food web is a combination of several food chains, and is just as fragile. As you can see from the diagram below, many animals feed on the same thing in a food web, and these animals are also prayed on by many animals. Food webs are usually better than food chains in explaining how different animals interact in an environment because you can see how many animals are interconnected by their food. It also shows the diet of different animals, which a food chain cannot, considering that there can be only one species in each class.

Research question: What distinctive features does the Bactrian camel have, which is not seen in any other species?

Information on the Bactrian camel:
Habitat: "Desert habitats of northwest China and Mongolia"
Number in the wild: Around 950 as of December 3, 2002
Class: Mammal
Order: Herbivore (primary consumer)
Average lifespan in the wild: 40-80 years
Dimensions: 300cm in length, 180-230cm at shoulder height, 50cm tail length
Weight: 600-1000kg
Conservation status: Critically endangered
Gestation period: 12-14 months
Birthing season: March-April
General facts: That bactrian camel's humps are large and plump when the camel is well-fed, but shrinks when resources are low. They can go without water for months at a time. The camel walks with both legs on one side, much like the giraffe. The sense of sight is relatively well developed, while the sense of smell is extremely good. The food source of the Bactrian camel is the Saxaul tree (or bush).
The Bactrian camel is critically endangered. Though there are very few natural predators of the Bactrian camel, mostly due to over-hunting. The Bactrian camel has been hunted for domestication, food, and even sport-hunting. Some mining activity has been going on in the Gobi, and the constructions of pipelines etc. are causing habitat loss for the Bactrian camel. The Bactrian camel, though extremely adapted to its environment and with very few natural predators, is facing extinction due to the actions of humans.

Interesting facts/links about the Bactrian camel:

- Though camels are not always thought to be very quick, at full speed, they can run as fast as a horse.
bactrian_camels.jpg habitat-map.gif

Other animals that live in the Bactrian camel's habitat:
- Takhi or Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) - Primary consumer
- Asiatic ibex or Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica) - Primary consumer
- Gobi bear or Mazaalai (Ursus arctos gobiensis) - Secondary consumer
- Eurasian wolf (Canis lupus lupus) - Secondary consumer
- Several species of lizard (Lacertilia) - Secondary consumer
- Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) - Secondary consumer
- Jerboa (Dipodidae)
- Snow leopard (Panthera uncia)

My Poster (Objective 3):

As you can see, I made a lot of improvements from my first attempt at a poster from the second. The first time, I had only used one piece of paper, but the second time, I used one and a half, so I had more space to put my pictures. In the before picture, the Bactrian camel did not really stand out, but in the after, there is an orange line around the camel's picture, so that it stands out. I also added one more animal in the after, which was the Gobi bear, and the Rhubarb tree as well. It was easier to have a more complex food web with the Gobi bear, since it is an omnivore and a scavenger. I used two different kinds of arrows; dotted and normal, to express how an animal comes to obtain whatever food source it was. For example, the Gobi bear would eat a dead Eurasian wolf by scavenging, but it would not go out and hut one, so the arrow is a dotted arrow. I think I did a lot better in the after poster because it looked more organized and had more information on it. I could have improved, though, by making the cuts of some of my pictures neater.

What is a decomposer?
A decomposer is an organism, especially soil bacterium, fungus, or invertebrate that decomposes organic waste and reuses it as its own food. Decomposers do this by breaking the waste down, returning the remaining nutrients to the earth. This process is called rotting. Common decomposers are worms, bacteria, cockroaches, slugs, maggots, mildew and mushrooms.
Decomposers have an important part to play in an ecosystem, since they have the role to return nutrients to the earth. Decomposition occurs because of oxygen and bacteria (or other decomposers). Without decomposers, the earth would be withered and lifeless, destroying all life. In ways, decomposers are both at the top and the bottom of a food chain, since they provide for producers and consumers, while feeding on them.
e9b7c973691655ac2c84aecdae6a8dc5.jpg28355-004-64219017.jpgkaminski_armillaria_mellea.jpgBacteria, earthworms, and fungi are the main types of decomposer. In my animal's environment, bacteria is the only decomposer.

My Animal's Environment (Objective 4a1):
My animal lives in desert habitats ranging from China to Mongolia. Though the deserts are dry, and all animals living there must have a way of maintaining enough water, it can get very cold. So animals in the Bactrian camel's habitat must be adapted with furry coats or other ways to stay warm in the winter or at night. The Gobi desert (one of the main habitats of the Bactrian camel) has an average of 194 millimeters rainfall per year, though amounts can vary from east to west and north to south. The desert is on relatively high ground, and the temperature can be -40 degrees Celsius in the winter, while being 45 degrees Celsius in the summer. As you can see, the difference is 85 degrees. The Gobi desert is not a very 'sandy' desert like the Sahara, but more rocky with some sandy soil. Like most deserts, the Gobi has a lot of sunlight, and on average, the desert has 21 hours of it each day. The desert is surrounded by several mountain ranges.
How my animal has adapted:
In the winter, Bactrian camels wear a shaggy coat which is shed in extremely hot summers. The camel has also evolved to have two humps that store fatty tissue that can be used as a reservoir in times when the Bactrian camel cannot find enough food. The fat can be converted into nutrients, and one gallon of converted fat can provide one gallon of liquid as well. The camels' kidneys and intestines are also able to hold liquid for a long time, and this explains their ability to live in extremely dry and/or hot environments. When camels walk, they walk with two legs on the same side of the body. Their feet are also very large, flat, and have an ungulate's hooves. These factors, minus the fact that the camel is an ungulate, help it from sinking into soft desert sands, when met with any. Long eyelashes also help keep dust and sand out of the camels' eyes. A camel's nostrils are also evolved to shut so that sand does not enter. Camel lips are very thick so that it can eat thorny desert plants without feeling the pain. The camels' body color helps it blend into its environments, with dry-looking leaves and sandy stones. Camel ears are thick with fur, even inside, to keep the sand out. Bactrian camels also have quite long intestines to recycle any absorbed water, since water in the Gobi is very scarce. Long legs help the Bactrian camel travel longer distances.
camel_kneeling.jpgThe summer coat (left) and winter coat (right)bactrian-camel-fur_5799_600x450.jpgLong eyelashes ---->camels-eye.jpg
Closing nostrils ---->BactrianCamel-m.jpgThick lips ---->camel-lips-thumb13252862.jpg gobi-desert-mongolia_12249_600x450.jpg (<--- The Gobi)

Non-living factors of the environment (Objective 4a2):
The camels' two humps provide both nutrients as found in foods and water, as well as intestines that recycle the water several times.
Lack of food sources
The camels' humps can keep a camel from starving for quite a long time.
Soft sand
Large feet that help a camel from sinking into the sand.
Blowing dust
Nostrils that close and long eyelashes to keep the sand out of both eyes and nostrils.
Thorny plants
Thick lips that do not sense much pain when pricked.
Extreme weather change
A change of coats from the summer to the winter.

What is an 'ecosystem'? (Objective 4b1)
"A biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment." - Dictionary
Ecosystems take place with the collaboration of both an environment and a food web. Everything in the natural world is connected in an ecosystem. Even we have our own ecosystem, with our environment as a city and other animals in the environment such as cats and dogs. Ecosystems do not have any given size, and can be small or large. Terrariums are artificial ecosystems, since it was not made naturally, though they still sustain a small ecosystem. All components, such as earth, trees, moss, stones, light, humidity, temperature, and animals if it is a forest, work together to create an ecosystem. Every ecosystem has their own producers, consumers, decomposers, and environment. When an ecosystem is 'healthy', and all the factors of it are in normal condition (in size, temperature etc.), scientists would call it a sustainable ecosystem. Living elements of the ecosystem should be able to reproduce themselves effectively in a sustainable ecosystem. Sustainable ecosystems tend to have biodiversity, which means that there are several kinds of living organisms in the ecosystem. Some ecosystems are called a biome, meaning that it only exists in one certain area or climate.
My animal's ecosystem (Objective 4b2):
My animal's ecosystem consists of the sun, water, earth, a variety of plants, animals and bacteria. The weather is very different from summer to winter, but when the wind blows, sandstorms are not uncommon. The temperature can be very hot or very cold. All living creatures living in the Gobi have had to adapt to these unique conditions.
Simple-ecosystem-diagram_full_size_landscape.jpg This diagram shows the basic ecosystem of a desert.

"Symbiosis is when two species live in close contact with each other." - Brainpop
There are three types of symbiosis, which are mutualism, parasitism, and commensalism. They are classified by how helpful the two species are to each other. Mutualism is when both species gain from each others' symbiotic relationship. For example, a crocodile and an Egyptian plover. The plover will fly into the crocodile's open mouth and clean its teeth, eating the bits and pieces stuck to the crocodiles' mouth. The crocodile can get its teeth cleaned, while the plover gets its food. Humans are also an example of mutualism, since bacteria in a human's stomach are in a symbiotic relationship with humans.
Parasitism is when one of the species gain advantage, while the other does not. For example, the botfly. The botfly's eggs are layed into a mammal's body, where it hatches and lives until adulthood. When the botfly matures, it digs its way out of the mammal's body, leaving a hole in the mammal's hide. The botfly will then fly away. The mammal, or the host, will have pain and swelling from the hole, and the wound can get infected. As you can see, the botfly is benefiting from this relationship, but the host is likely to get a disease from the botfly's presence.
Commensalism is when one species gains an advantage from the other, but the other one does not get affected. For example, so me exotic orchids grown on trees. This provides the orchids with the extra sunlight that it needs, though it does nothing to the tree. The tree will live a normal life, while giving the orchid a better life.
  • Mutualism (Crocodile and bird)
  • Humans mutualism (bacteria in stomach)
  • Parasitism (Botfly); basically parasites
  • Commensalism (Orchids on trees)

My Animal's Adaptations (Objective 5):
The Bactrian camel's humps
(and intestines, to some extent) allow it to go without food for several weeks, and without water for about a week. The camel also has large feet that help it from sinking into soft sand and long legs for walking. Long eyelashes and nostrils that close help sand from getting into the camel's body. Thick lips keep the camel from sensing too much pain while eating prickly plants. The camels grow thick, long winter coats and sheds these during the summer to deal with the severe temperature difference. The humps are both external and internal features, since they are visible, but the nutrients and liquid are stored inside. The feet, legs, eyelashes, lips and different coats are external features.
Adaptation chart:
In General:
Bactrian Camels Specifically:

Diurnal or Nocturnal (Objective 6)?
First of all, what do "diurnal" and "nocturnal" mean? Diurnal is an adjective that describes an animal as waking in the daytime. Nocturnal, on the other hand, is an adjective that describes an animal as waking at night. By nature, the Bactrian camel is diurnal, though when domesticated, they can be coaxed into traveling at night. Camels have developed ways to keep the sand out of their eyes and nose, while waking and while sleeping. Camels do not have many natural enemies; only the Eurasian wolf (and the Gobi bear, in case of scavenging), so it does not have to worry much about being attacked at night. Hence it does not have any mechanisms to sense danger asleep, and it even lies down when it sleeps (making it harder to get up). The camel does not have many special diurnal features, and it could very likely be a nocturnal animal as well. The camels' main sense is its sense of smell, and that can be used both day and night. The only thing that may explain why a Bactrian camel is diurnal is that it also uses its sense of sight quite a lot, and though good, this sense is not very well adapted for night vision.

Seasonal Adaptations (Objective 7):
The Gobi desert has two seasons: summer and winter. There are in-betweens of these two seasons in which weather and temperature are not so harsh, but they do not last long enough to be considered spring or autumn. In summer, the temperatures can rise up to 45 degrees Celsius, and that is the rainy season for the Gobi. It only rains about 194 millimeters in a year, however, so the rainy season is not as rainy as in other climates. In winter, temperatures can be as low as -40 degrees Celsius, and it often snows. As mentioned before, the Bactrian camel eats snow during winter to hydrate. The Gobi is occasionally visited by snow leopards in the winter, since it is so cold, and there are some animals that can be hunted for food. The Bactrian camel has adapted to these seasonal changes by having a summer and winter coat. In summer, it has a light coat, though it stays thick enough when the temperatures drop at night, as seen in Objective 4a1. In the winter, Bactrian camels grow thick winter coats, as seen below and in Objective 4a1. Below are two pictures that show the differences between the Gobi during summer and winter.
gobi-2.jpg The Gobi during summer (left) and the winter (right) bactrian-2.jpg

Bactrian Camel's Symbiotic Relationships (Objective 8):
Paracitism: Bactrian camels can host flees, though it is rare in a desert environment. In captivity, though, the chances of flees are higher.
Mutualism: The Bactrian camel, like all animals, have bacteria in their stomachs which help them digest food. This is a symbiotic relationship, and an example of mutualism, since the bacteria can do what it does, and the Bactrian camel gets its nutrients from digestion. Obviously, they are in close contact, since the bacteria live inside the camel's stomach.

Camels As A Species (Objective 9):
The camel is identified mostly by its hump(s). There are two kinds of camel; the Bactrian and Dromedary. The Bactrian camel has two humps, and is the more wild species, while Dromedary is the one-humped, more domesticated species. The camel's class; mammalia, makes it a mammal. A mammal's distinguishing features are that it is warm-blooded, and most members have hair that covers all of their bodies. Mammals have a higher survival rate than reptiles in some ways, since they do not rely on the sun for warmth. In fact, there is proof that this adaptation of mammals is good for survival, because after the last mass extinction, called the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction, mammals survived while most cold-blooded animals did not. This is because cold-blooded animals require sunlight to warm their bodies, and after a meteor hit the Earth, the sun was blocked out by all the dust particles, and cold-blooded animals could not get the heat they needed. (Aquatic reptiles did survive, however, and this could be due to the fact that they could stay in water, which tends to be cold, for a long time, and hence adapt more to the cold.)
The camel's family is camelidae, and this makes it a camelid. What distinguishes camelids from other families are their feet. Camelids have a distinguishing foot that is not a hoof, but "toe bones being embedded in a broad cutaneous pad" as seen in this picture: llamafoot.jpg This foot also gives camelids a distinct footprint. Camelids likely evolved with these feet due to their environment. The camel lives in Asian desert environments. Other camelids such as llamas and vicuñas have the following environments: llamas live in South American mountains such as the Andes, and vicuñas live in high-altitude plains in the Andes.As you can see, llamas and vicuñas share a very similar habitat. Vicuñas and Bactrian camels both live in plane-like environments, and Bactrian camels actually have loose stones in their environment. It seems that camelids' feet are adapted for rocky environments or planes.
A camelid footprint:Remeika13.tif.JPG
Camels are descended from prehistoric "protylopus", which look like a camel with a summer coat and no humps. The protylopus lived in North America, though when the continents separated, some migrated to Asia and became camels. The North American protylopus became extinct. Bactrian camels are distinguished by their double humps. Besides that, there is mostly no difference between the Dromedary and Bactrian camel besides the fact that Dromedary camel has a uniform coat, the two species are physically the same. Of course, the Dromedary camel is domesticated, so they rely more heavily on humans for feeding, though they can forage if necessary. Bactrian camels, probably due to their extra hump, way around 300kg more than a Dromedary camel. Dromedary camels are descended from Bactrian camels, though they are now commonly used as pack animals or livestock in Africa (mainly the Sahara), and as animal rides at zoos around the world. Bactrian camels remain wild or in captivity, in central Asian deserts and in zoos around the world.
dromedary_bactrian.jpgThe physical difference between a Dromedary and Bactrian camel.

Variations in Bactrian camels (Objective 10):
Like all animals, Bactrian camels have variations from specimen to specimen. All specimens vary in size, due to both sex and individual difference. Obviously, the weight of each individual will be different as well. Like humans, Bactrian camels have their own slightly different voices, though it is very hard to tell if you are not familiar with the camel. Each individual also has slightly different hair color. Most of this is genetics, inherited, like humans, though the fur may be caused by environment. Some camels have quite reddish fur, and this kind of color can become bleached from staying in the sun too long. It seems, then, that camels with a lighter fur color have spent more time in the sun. Also, some wild Bactrian camels will may have old scars or injuries, which are created by either the environment or other animals in that environment. Bactrian camels also have slightly different patterns in their shedding and growing of coats.

Classifying organisms in my animal's habitat (Objective 11):
Living organisms
Bacteria, saxaul tree, rhubarb tree, takhi, Asiatic ibex, Gobi bear, Eurasian wolf, Gobi lizard, golden eagle, jerboa, snow leopard.
Saxaul tree, rhubarb tree
Takhi, Asiatic ibex, Gobi bear, Eurasian wolf, Gobi lizard, golden eagle, jerboa, snow leopard.
Takhi, Asiatic ibex, Gobi bear, Eurasian wolf, Gobi lizard, golden eagle, jerboa, snow leopard.
Golden eagle.
Takhi, Asiatic ibex, Gobi bear, Eurasian wolf, jerboa, snow leopard.
Gobi lizard.
Golden eagle, Eurasian wolf, jerboa, snow leopard, Gobi lizard.
Takhi, Asiatic ibex.
Gobi bear.

Human adaptations (Objective 12):
Humans, like other animals, have had several adaptations. Humans are classified as animalia chordata mammalia primates hominidae hominini homo sapien. This makes them animals, mammals, and hominids (great apes). Humans stand upright, which gives them an advantage in ways, since two limbs are freed for use. This allows humans to use tools, punch/hit, etc. which most other animals cannot do. Unfortunately, due to humans' use of tools, our jaws have become smaller and weaker. This happened when grain started being in common use, around 1850 B.C. The grains had already been processed/cooked somewhat, so use of strong jaws was unnecessary. Humans' jaws used to be wider, and so humans' teeth tend not to stay perfectly aligned anymore.
neanderthal_skull_100.jpgTo the left is a skull of a neanderthal, who were ancient peoples closely related to homo sapiens. As you can see, the teeth are quite perfectly aligned. This is rare now, since as I stated before, jaws have shrunk, and there is not as much space for all the teeth.
Lucky for us, using our adapted hands with opposable thumbs, we can make several things that help us in modern life. For example, if a certain individual's teeth are not aligned, they can get braces, aligning their teeth once more. This can also be the same for eyesight. Due to increased use of digital equipment (i.e. games, television, computers) can make one's eyesight worse than it should naturally be. If this is the case, this individual could get glasses.
Humans, like all animals, also have an immune system. This system searches for microorganisms that do not belong in a person's body, then create immunity to it when the microorganism is unwanted.
Some indigenous mountain peoples have also adapted to high-altitude places. Many of these peoples have enlarged chests and lungs to have more air in their bloodstream.
There is an adaptation in which female humans can smell the difference between related and unrelated males. To females, related males smell repelling while unrelated males smell good while the female is ovulating. What humans consider "attractive" are humans with a very healthy physical structure. Hormones are released to have this feeling of attraction because if the attractive human would be a good mate, most likely resulting in a healthy child.
Humans have the remarkable ability to change their own adaptations. For example, if a human wanted to be a good fiction author, they could read several novels and learn about writing techniques, or have an apprenticeship with a famous author.

Some pictures of the Bactrian camel:

Zoos: Good or Bad?
Zoo as a place for animal research, reproduction, protection and tourism
Disadvantages/Ethical concern
  • Safe environment (no danger of getting hurt, no predators etc.)
  • Longer life expectancy for most animals
  • Reliable food source
  • Can help endangered animals by breeding; conservation
  • No natural enemies
  • Zoos provide refuge for endangered animals
  • Care for sick animals is provided
  • Sometimes animals are not treated fairly/ethically
  • Zoos may lose money at any time
  • Animals living in zoos lose their survival skills
  • Animals are meant to be in the wild, so it may not be fair for them to be in captivity
  • Animals have a chance of falling into depression due to stress from tourists
  • Cannot observe animals in their natural habitats
  • Not as much territory as animals have in the wild
  • Usually don't see the vicious side of animals because they are trained
  • All endangered species cannot be kept and bred in one single zoo, and zoos are choosing which animals to and not to breed

Works Cited
Alitto, Guy S., et al. “Gobi.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, n.d. Web. 8 May 2012. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/236545/Gobi>.
“Bactrian camel.” An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet. N.p., 23 Mar. 2004. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://www.ultimateungulate.com/artiodactyla/camelus_bactrianus.html>.

Vocabulary List:
  • Environment: The habitat or surroundings in which an animal or human dwells.
  • Adaptation: The act of adapting to live successfully in an environment.
  • Producer: The life form, usually a plant, that is at the bottom of any food chain.
  • Primary consumer: An animal which feed on producers; herbivores.
  • Secondary consumer: An animal which feeds on other consumers; carnivores.
  • Decomposer: Usually a bacteria or fungi which helps in reusing the corpses of living forms for the earth.
  • Biodiversity: To have several kinds of living organisms.
  • Biome: A special ecosystem that is exclusive to a certain area or climate.
  • Cutaneous: Skin like; of, relating to, or affecting the skin.