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Interdependence of Plants and Animals

Experiment #14 from Biology with Vernier

Education Level
High School


Plants and animals share many of the same chemicals throughout their lives. In most ecosystems, O2, CO2, water, food and nutrients are exchanged between plants and animals. In this lab, you will be designing your own experiments to determine the relationships between two organisms—a plant (Elodea) and an animal (a snail).

Several hypotheses have been discussed in the past about possible relationships between the Elodea and the snail. You will test to determine how oxygen and CO2 are exchanged among Elodea plants, snails, and the water both exist in.

To perform the necessary tests, you will need to determine the presence of CO2. An easy way to do this is to monitor the pH of the pond water. If CO2 dissolves in water, it forms carbonic acid, H2CO3, and the pH decreases. If CO2 is removed from pond water, the amount of carbonic acid goes down and the pH increases. One can use a computer to monitor the pH and determine whether CO2 is released into the pond water or is taken from the water. Dissolved oxygen (DO) can be monitored with the aid of a Dissolved Oxygen Probe. Increases or decreases in the amount of dissolved oxygen can be rapidly assessed with this probe.


In this experiment, you will

  • Use a Dissolved Oxygen Probe to measure the dissolved oxygen in water.
  • Use a pH Sensor to measure the pH of water.
  • Use pH measurements to make inferences about the amount of CO2 dissolved in water.
  • Determine whether snails consume or produce oxygen and CO2 in water.
  • Determine whether plants consume or produce oxygen and CO2 in the light.
  • Determine whether plants consume or produce oxygen and CO2 in the dark.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.


Teaching to an educational standard? This experiment supports the standards below.

International Baccalaureate (IB)/Environmental Systems and Societies
2.2 Communities and ecosystems
International Baccalaureate (IB) 2025/Biology
C4.2.16—Secondary production as accumulation of carbon compounds in biomass by heterotrophs

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This experiment is #14 of Biology with Vernier. The experiment in the book includes student instructions as well as instructor information for set up, helpful hints, and sample graphs and data.

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