Writing Exercise #1: “List as many characteristics of microbial populations you can think of. How does this differ from a microbial community?”
I can think of a ton of characteristics within a microbial population. Does this population have access to sunlight? What about oxygen? How much water does this population get? What preys on this population, if anything? How important is this population for the food chain in the area? What cycles (such as the nitrogen cycle) does this population affect or take part in? What specific nutrients does it need? There’s so many questions you could ask here! Now, comparing this to a community is a bit different. A community is made up of the populations in an area. So, how do populations interact with each other? Are some dependent on others? Are some competing for nutrients against others?
Something I can think of here on a personal level is my hometown in California, Visalia. My town is a huge agricultural town, so we have a lot of farming in the area. One thing I think about in-particularly is the types of soil that farmers use. There’s a ton of different microbial populations within the soils, so I’d like to see how they interact with each other, and furthermore how they can be an advantage (or disadvantage) to a local farmer when growing crops. Furthermore, how do farmers control the microbes in the soil so they have a good yield for crops? Maybe they introduce new populations of microbes, or take away certain ones.