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Substrate is the surface a plant or animal lives upon, grows upon, or is attached to.

The substrate is composed of biotic or abiotic materials, or both. Substrate is the fourth abiotic aspect of the L.A.W.S. of nature   

Substrate is not a synonym of soil.  Rather, Soil is one type of substrate.


In Practice:
Comparative observations of different substrates is helpful in showing SOP students how abiotic factors 
affect where an organism lives and why.  Instructors can have students journal, dialogue, or mindmap about                                
the different substrates they've observed at IslandWood and Blakely Harbor, and how each of these in turn
supports different organisms.  (Ex. marine vs. forest environments, mammals vs. invertebrates)