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An Investigation into Measuring the Biomass of an Organism

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An Investigation Into Measuring The Biomass of an Organism


In the investigation that was carried out, the biomass of an organism was to be measured. In order to accomplish this, the dry mass of the substance had to be determined. In this particular investigation, two pieces of beef meat were used in the determination of biomass. The meat was prepared, heated in an oven at a high uniform temperature and weighed at uniform interval times until the dry mass, which was two constant consecutive mass readings; was reached. This was the biomass of the organic matter, as cited by the hypothesis. This implies that in order to measure the biomass of a substance, a measurement of dry mass can be used.


Biomass is defined as “Any recent organic matter that has been derived from plants as a result of the photosynthetic conversion process.” (WWF Climate Change Article, 2006). Biomass mainly refers to plants and their photosynthetic nature. Plants contain stored energy from the sun which is passed down to primary consumers who feed on the plants and then to other animals along the food chain. Recently, biomass has been attributed to being valuable as an energy source as the energy stored in the plants by the Sun can be utilized to power machines which generate electricity without polluting the environment as the fossil fuels do.

The aim of the experiment was to determine the biomass of an organism by using the dry mass of the substance. Dry mass is defined as the mass obtained after removing all the water from a substance. Dry mass is a more reliable indicator of biomass as opposed to fresh mass measurements because they are dependant on fluctuating water concentrations in the biological material being measured. By heating the substance until it reaches constant mass indicates that all the water has evaporated and only the dry mass is present. The hypothesis therefore is that the obtained dry mass of the substance would be a true reflection of its biomass.


Description of the Apparatus

1. 2 x Samples of beef meat of equal mass

2. 2 x Evaporating dishes

3. Electric Balance

4. Oven

5. Thermometer

6. 1 x Ceramic Tile

7. 1 x Scalpel

8. 1 x Tongs

9. Masking Tape and Permanent Marker

10. Protective clothing such as over mittens

Independent Variables:

• Mass of the meat samples

• Type of meat used in the experiment

• Temperature of the oven

• Time-intervals between weighings of the samples

Dependant Variables

• Mass of the meat samples at each weighing

• Biomass of the meat samples at the end of the experiment

Description of Experimental Procedure

1. I prepared the meat for experiment and cut it into small pieces using the scalpel on a clean ceramic tile.

2. I weighed the two empty evaporating dishes separately using the electric scale and noted down the mass in grams.

3. I identified two pieces of meat, weighed each of them in an evaporating dish using the electric balance and noted down the mass.

4. To obtain the mass of the meat, I subtracted the mass of each evaporating dish to its corresponding joint mass with the meat. I then recorded the equal masses of the meat samples.

5. I taped some masking tape of each of the dishes, marking them clearly as Sample A and Sample B with the marker before I inserted both dishes in the already lit oven. I then recorded the temperature of the oven using the thermometer



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