Bioregional portrait


Bioregional Portrait: (50 pts. possible) The following assignment was modified from one that was developed by the Biology Faculty at BC, and derived from the Bio 100 Student Module. One of your major writing assignments in Biology 100 is a "Portrait of your Bioregion". There are a number of questions asking you to research your own personal environment and your place as part of that ecosystem. We define your home place as your watershed, ie. giving it biological rather than political boundaries. Nature does not recognize human made boundaries which are often lines drawn arbitrarily on a map. Nature's boundaries are rivers, oceans, lakes, and mountains. Your watershed is all the area drained by a stream, river or lake - literally from where the water is shed or flows.

All too often we concentrate on far away, exotic, ecosystems like tropical rainforests and forget that we, too, live in a unique biome - the temperate rain forest. This assignment is asking you to explore your particular part of that biome up close and personal.

One of the objectives of this assignment is to help you better understand and appreciate the ecosystem in which you live. Part of the injunction to "Think globally, act locally" implies a knowledge of our local environment. Another objective is to ask you to think about the size of your own ecological footprint. How lightly do you step upon the land? Do you know how you use natural resources and are you using them wisely?

For this assignment think in terms of providing a stranger a unique picture or snap shot of your own personal environment and how you interact with it. Tell that person what you observe from where you live, not what you can read on the Web or hear from city officials. Everybody will have a different picture even if they are neighbors. Even identical twins living in the same house will present different portraits because they are looking through different eyes.

You can call local government offices, utility companies, etc. for further information. Mostly, though, we want to go outside around your home and observe what else shares your space. Don't look up in a book for your trees and birds - go outside and look at them.

Think about how the land forms around you were made and how humans and other animals have shaped those land forms. In terms of European settlement the history of the Seattle area is quite short, but humans have lived in this area for at least 12,000 years.

Portrait of your Bioregion - For this assignment you need to answer ALL of the following questions about your local ecosystem. Your answers should be as complete as possible, with citations from where your information comes from.  Feel free to include drawings, photos, etc. answer the following questions in detail to describe your Bioregion. I've provided some hints inblue.

  1. Describe exactly where you live. Draw a map if you like. This should not include your address, describe where you live in terms of the geography without any man made points of reference.
  2. What is a watershed? In which watershed do you live? This means your own personal watershed according to the biological definition - do not ask the local water utilities for the name of your watershed. Here is a site that will also help identify your watershed. The more specific you can be the better.(Links to an external site.)
  3. Name five trees in your area, (within one or two blocks of your house). Which ones are native? This site might be helpful.
  4. Name five resident plus any three migratory birds in your area.
  5. Where is your local water supply stored? Look around your neighborhood for the nearest water tower or reservoir.
  6. Where does your wastewater go and what happens to it along the way? When you flush your toilet what happens to it? Where are the pollutants removed? Is primary, or secondary, or tertiary treatment done there?
  7. You've changed the oil in your car and now you need to get rid of the old oil. How do you do that in a way that is safe and environmentally sound? Be specific in your answer, where exactly would you take it.
  8. What was the area you live in like 50 years ago? 100 years ago? 200 years ago? Include people, places and nature in your description. What what was happening to the Indigenous Peoples of your Bioregion during each time period? The History Link is a helpful resource at: (Links to an external site.) 
  9. Name some animals (non human) which share your place. Include both wild and domestic beings.
  10. What type of energy do you use to heat your house, from where does this energy come? What environmental effects does this type of energy have? All forms of energy have negative environmental effects, figure out what you use first.
  11. Name the nearest creek or stream to your home, and trace its passage from source to outlet. Include above and below ground portions. Google maps can be helpful here or a topo map.
  12. List the nearest local, and state, and national park to your house, what kinds of activities are allowed in each of these (hunting, fishing, camping, motorcycling, horseback riding etc.)

Points will be assigned for depth and breadth of information and for creativity in presenting the information. Create a picture of your own Bioregion so that others can see the value and complexity of your environment.

Include with your answers a list of references to indicate where you obtained your information. Use the format in the MLA guidelines to construct a bibliography for the references that you use on each question. After you have assembled your bibliography, make sure your citations are formatted correctly. Do not use footnotes or citations of any kind within the body of this assignment. The LMC Librarian Instructions for  MLA Bibliographies are found at: at:

BC Library Media Center Homepage: (Links to an external site.)

Permanent Reserve (behind the Circulation Desk):

Maps:City of Bellevue City of Seattle
King and Snohomish Counties
City of Bellevue topographic mapsAtlases:Puget Sound Thomas Guide 2001
Washington Atlas and GazetteerWeb Sites:City of Bellevue (Links to an external site.)

City of Seattle (Links to an external site.)

King County Department of Natural Resources
 (Links to an external site.)Washington State Department of Natural Resources (Links to an external site.)

Natural Mapping Program in Washington (Links to an external site.)

On the bottom left side of the home page click on "Site Map" then click on "Outreach". Scroll down to "The Nature Mapping Program" and click on the URL: to get to the Nature Mapping Program in Washington State. Next, click on "Maps", and finally, click on "Washington Maps" or scroll down and click on a particular Genus and species mapped in Washington State. Have Fun!!!!!

    • Posted: 13 days ago
    • Due: 
    • Budget: $30
    Tags: biology
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