Monthly Archives: December 2013

Ecosystem analysis, and plants and animals in the Sonora Desert

The Sonora desert is situated on the border between Mexico and the United States and covers an area of some one hundred and twenty thousand square miles. It is described as one of the least hospitable ecosystems in North America. The Sonora desert receives less than ten inches of rain per year and temperatures vary from well above one hundred degrees in the summer time to below freezing in the winter time. Even though these temperatures vary so drastically in this area a wide variety of plants and animals live in the Sonora desert, including many species that are found nowhere else on the planet.

The Sonora desert is the home of the only venomous species of lizard which is native to North America; this lizard is the Gila monster. This animal can grow to two feet in length with a heavy body and distinct orange and black markings on its skin. The skin on the Gila monster has a bumpy texture and many scientists tend to think that the main reason is to protect it from the heat of the desert.

The Gila monsters diet consists of bird eggs and reptile eggs, but they also scavenge carrion whenever they get the opportunity. The venomous bite of the Gila monster is delivered through the use of its salivary glands which are located in its mandible. The Gila monster is considered venomous and potentially dangerous but they are very slow moving and most humans can get out of its way if confronted in the desert environment.

Another animal that is native to the Sonora desert is the Ringtail. These animals are small cat like mammals that resemble a typical cat but they are actually more closely related to raccoons.


They are nocturnal solitary animals that eat just about anything that they can find in their desert habitat. Ringtails also have small grayish brown bodies. One of the animal’s most prominent features is its large purplish eyes which stand out against the Ringtails facial markings and these animals prefer to be active at night in order to avoid the excessive heat of the daytime desert.

Also a very common site in the Sonora desert is the Harris hawk which is more commonly known as the red tailed hawk. These birds are midsized brownish colored raptors that live in transitional desert locations and river canyons. These animals are one of the few birds of prey that hunt in cooperative groups that are comprised of two to six birds scouting for potential prey and sharing the kill. The Harris hawk is physically different from other hawks because it possesses a darker plumage and substantially longer tail and wing feathers. A Harris hawk can reach heights of thirty inches and has a wingspan of forty inches and in some cases even longer.

Some of the plant life located in the Sonora desert is an unusual desert plant which is found in areas with abundant spring runoff, this desert plant is the Desert Globe Mallow and is considered to be a wildflower. These plants are semi-woody and can grow up to three feet as a shrub. During the spring these plants can bloom in waves throughout the entire summer and can survive in the extreme heat. These plants are the staple of many different desert animals such as the desert hare, which themselves become the prey of the Harris Hawk and the desert coyote.

The icon of the Sonora desert is the saguaro cactus which is a large tree like cactus which can grow to be over fifty feet in height. The saguaro cactus has a very long life span and it usually takes up to seventy years for it to develop a side arm. The cactus grows very slowly and when it rains it will soak up the water like a sponge which can be visually seen when it expands due to the rainfall.

These plants have for centuries been very important to the desert animals and the desert people that have inhabited the Sonora desert. Many Native American tribes that live within the confines of the Sonora desert have for centuries used the cactus for food and shelter. The woody ribs of the cactus have been used for the building of wikiups which are Native American shelters that are plastered over with the desert soil to form the finished shelter. The Native American population has also used the fruit of the saguaro cactus as a substantial food source. They usually make a jelly or jam from the fruit which can be very sweet and satisfying. The fruit of the cactus has been determined by many nutritionists to be extremely valuable in the treatment of diabetes and in preventing high cholesterol. The fruit of the saguaro also benefits the desert animals such as the javelina who are quick to take advantage of any fruit pods that happen to fall off of the plant and land on the ground. These animals in turn become the prey and food source of the animals that are higher up on the food chain.

This would be a viable biological ecosystem which is consisting of all of the living organisms or biotic components in this particular desert area. These components and organisms interact with one another and also with the surrounding environment such as the air, minerals in the soil, the water and also with sunlight. Key functions of an ecosystem include the capturing of sunlight energy and carbon energy through food webs while also releasing nutrients and carbon through the process of decomposition. Biodiversity affects the functioning of an ecosystem and these systems provide a variety of goods and services which people and other organisms heavily depend on. A healthy ecosystem consists of a biological community in conjunction with its abiotic surroundings which all work together as one system.


A healthy ecosystem is constantly exchanging energy and carbon with the existing environment; mineral nutrients are mostly cycled back and forth between plants, animals, and microbes within the soil itself. Nitrogen is crucial to a properly working ecosystem and nitrogen enters ecosystems through a biological nitrogen fixation which is deposited through precipitation, dust, and gases. Since most terrestrial ecosystems are nitrogen based, nitrogen recycling is an extremely important control on ecosystem production.

Nitrogen producing bacteria is an important factor for an ecosystem. This particular bacteria lives symbiotically within plants and also lives freely within the soil where it is cycled to other organisms that inhabit the ecosystem.

The ecology of ecosystems is composed of the flow of energy and materials through organisms and the physical environment. When studying an ecosystem it is important to realize how each organism depends on the other for survival and how they seem to be extremely fine tuned and balanced for optimum output of productivity.

The Saguaro Cactus, symbol of the Sonora desert


Odum, EP (1977) Fundamentals of ecology, third edition, Saunders New York

Schoener, Thomas W. (2009) Ecological Niche, The Princeton Guide in Ecology. Princeton University press , pp.2-13

Looking for someone to do your homework? Check this out…





Group Dynamics

Group Dynamics

            Frequently, people confuse between groups and teams. A group may be defines as set of people who recognize themselves as a unit but actually work independently to bring out results. Whereas a team may be a group of people who are organized by a specific structure come together to complete a common goal. The major difference between groups and teams is that any bad quality of work performed by an individual in a group doesn’t affect the unit as any other member may cover it where as in the case of teams the unit is affected greatly because people are assigned specific tasks that cannot be completed by others (Barbara O., Richard M. F., & Rebecca B., 2004).  It could be said that a smart arrangement of members of a group is a team although a formal arrangement based on knowledge and seniority is followed in it. Group think is the mental phenomenon affecting members of a group to take faulty decisions ultimately leading to degradation. This can be avoided if proper roles are assigned to each and every member of the team by an effective team leader. Routine discussions made by members regarding the standings of a group and periodic visits of senior managers to insect standings also reduces groupthink (Baron R. S., 2005).  Cohesiveness in a group is the degree to which the members of a group are attached to one another emotionally. As cohesiveness of a group increases there is a greater chance of groupthink.  Though cohesiveness makes people misbehave in a group by sharing irrelevant thoughts, it has its own benefits. Communication among the members of the group becomes extensive. Increase in bonding between people of a group makes it to function as a single unit and not as individuals of a group thus resulting in a synergic reaction increasing the functional efficiency. Members of a group becomes much more satisfied and this enables them to work longer, share more ideas, offer solutions to one another etc. Thus from the above statements we could conclude that the presence of cohesiveness in a group always uplifts a group to a great extent but at the same time if it goes out of the limits, it becomes the primary reason for its degradation.


Jex, S. M., & Britt, T. W. (2008). Organizational psychology: A scientist-practitioner approach

(2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Barbara O., Richard M. F., & Rebecca B. (2004). Turning Student Groups into Effective Teams.


Baron R. S. (2005). Groupthink and the ubiquitous nature of polarized group decision-making.




Algorithm Scan

Problem description:

In many of the colleges in India especially the South portion, students are asked to stay in hostels where food is provided along with accommodation. Students have to go to the dining halls to get the food. In case the students are not available to have food in hostels, they are generally asked to give a Reduction form (Paper work) so that they are not charged at the end of the month. It is a complex and longtime procedure to process the forms and is prone to a lot of human errors while processing.

In order to make this process simple, a program can be written so that students can simply scan their ID cards in systems and go away denoting that they will not be available for the day.


Algorithm formulation:

The following values may be necessary to make this algorithm work.

  • 1 variable to scan and store student data
  • 1 variable to collect the number of days/sessions the student will be absent
  • A database which has all the student data of a college
  • 1 variable to denote the number of units of food allocated for a month
  • 1 file pointer

After data extraction is done from the student, it must be compared if the ID is in the database. If not, the system must stop execution. The number of chargeable units must be deducted by the number of days/sessions the student will be absent so that the student is not charged.



Step 1:              Start Program

Step 2:              Get STUD_ID as input from Student ID card.

Step 3:              Open “Student_Dbs.xls” from memory using file pointer FP.

Step 4:              Extract Student details column from FP.

Step 5:              Start loop

i.      Check if STUD_ID is equal to ID_NO in FP

ii.      If yes, break look after extraction of UNIT_DETAILS

iii.      If no,  Increment ID_NO in database by 1 and continue to step (i)

Step 6:              Check to see if there is value in UNIT_DETAILS

Step 7:              If there is no value or default value, exit program displaying output “Wrong Details” and close FP. Else continue execution.

Step 8:              Ask Student to enter number of days/session of absence and stores in ABS.

Step 9:              Subtract the value of ABS in UNIT_DETAILS

Step 10:          Write the value of UNIT_DETAILS in “Student_Dbs.xls” using FP

Step 11:          Save “Student_Dbs.xls” and close FP

Step 12:          End Program

Program Extensions:

This program can be further extended so that by the end of the month, the total cost of food consumed can be calculated and a spread sheet can be made so that students can be charged accordingly. This can also be modifies so that the students can get data of the consumed units and available units for the moth when the appropriate options are chosen.

Algorithm tests:

Let us assume that the following table is the spread sheet for Student_Dbs.xls

09BAE12 Dharun K 31
09BEC14 Sowmya Y 28
09BCS56 Priya V 31
09BBT76 Shankaran D 25


Case 1:


The loop checks for the given data in ID_NO of “Student_Dbs.xls”

It goes to the 4th row and extracts UNIT_DETAILS data

It asks user to Enter number of days

ABS = 5


= 31-5   = 26

This is then saved to the “Student_Dbs.xls” file and the values are modified as follows

09BAE12 Dharun K 31
09BEC14 Sowmya Y 28
09BCS56 Priya V 26
09BBT76 Shankaran D 25


The file is saved and closed.

Case 2:


The loop continues and since at no instance ID_NO = STUD_ID the loops comes to an end.

Since ID_NO is not equal to STUD_ID, the error message of “Wrong Details” Appears and “Student_Dbs.xls” closes making no changes.



Hence the above program can be used in most of the schools and colleges in India and other countries that follow the traditional technique. The above algorithm showed that the results produced were correct and program code can be written. Check out for more!

Encryption and Decryption

Given Data:

            Plain text         :           xABBB

Key                 :           x0FFF


Solution (Encryption):

  1. Let us consider the universal ASSCII values for the total character set between NULL to DEL (ie) 0 to 127 (Decimal values) respectively.
  2. Now we form a table for the Plain text, Key and their corresponding ASSCII values.


S.No Plain text ASSCII Value Key ASSCII Value
1 x 120 x 120
2 A 65 0 48
3 B 66 F 70
4 B 66 F 70
5 B 66 F 70


  1. Now add the ASSCII values of Key and Plain text.
  2. Mod the obtained values by the greatest value in the series, in this care 127.
  3. The corresponding character of the obtained ASSCII values obtained gives out the Encrypted Text.


S.No Sum of ASCII Values Sum (mod) 127 Character
1 240 113 q
2 113 113 q
3 136 9 TAB(horizontal TAB)
4 136 9 TAB(horizontal TAB)
5 136 9 TAB(horizontal TAB)


  1. Hence the encrypted text is given by “qq                              “according to ASSCII Conversion.




Solution (Decryption):

The encrypted text is “qq                                “and the Key is “x0FFF”.

  1. A table is made for the ASCII values of the encrypted text and the Key.


S.No Encrypted Text ASSCII Value Key ASSCII Value
1 q 113 x 120
2 q 113 0 48
3 TAB 9 F 70
4 TAB 9 F 70
5 TAB 9 F 70


  1. find the sum of ASCII value and 127 to form the Modifies Encrypted text
  2. Now find the difference between the ASCII Values.
  3. Find the value of ASCII difference (mod) 127.
  4. Find the corresponding character for the value obtained.


S.No ASSCII value of ET+127 Key ASSCII ASCII difference ASCII difference (mod) 127 Character
1 240 120 120 120 x
2 240 48 192 65 A
3 136 70 66 66 B
4 136 70 66 66 B
5 136 70 66 66 B



  1. Hence the original text is “xABBB

Linear Equality

DQ. 1     Can a linear equation and a linear inequality be solved in the same way?  Explain why?  What makes them different?



No, a linear equation and a linear inequality cannot be solved in the same way because inequality has more than one answer whereas linear equation has at most one answer. If you multiply or divide both sides by a negative number, then the sign of the inequality is reversed whereas multiplication or division by negative number in linear equation has no effect on the sign. If you take reciprocals of both sides then also the sign of the inequality is reversed.


Example: consider the linear equation, -1/x = ½.

Reciprocal: -x = 2,

Multiplication by -1: x= -2


Now, consider the linear inequality, -1/x < ½

Reciprocal:  -x > 2

Multiplication by -1: x < -2.


DQ 2.     What are the four steps for solving an equation? Should any other factors be accounted for when solving an equation? Should any factors be accounted for when explaining how to solve an equation? Explain your answer.



The following are the four steps for solving an equation:

1)    Using distribution property, add or subtract any like terms on both sides.

2)    Using addition property of the equality, brings variable terms on one side and constant terms on the other sides.

3)    Using the multiplication property of the equality, multiply both sides by the inverse of the coefficient of the variable.

4)    Put the value of variable in original equation to check the answer.

Example: Consider the equation 3x + 7 = 21 – 2x + 3x

Step 1: 3x + 7 = 21 – 2x + 3x  è 3x + 7 = 21 + x

Step 2:  3x + 7 = 21 + x  è  3x + 7  – x – 7 = 21 + x – x – 7 è 2x = 14

Step 3: 2x = 14  è  (1/2)(2x) = (1/2)(14) è x = 7

Step 4: put x=7 in 3x+7 = 21 – 2x + 3x è 3*7 + 7 = 21 – 2*7 + 3*7

è 21 + 7 = 21 – 14 + 21 è 28 = 28

These are the only factors one should consider when solving an equation.

While explaining how to solve an equation one should considers the order of operations to be executed. Here are the rank of operations: parentheses, Exponents, multiplication, division, addition and the subtraction.