‘A’ Level Biology Field Trip, October 2016

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The last three days of the half-term break saw a group of ‘A’ Level Biologists undertake a trip to Preston Montford, Shropshire on the Welsh border to take part in ecological studies within this diverse habitat.  The first day, straight off the coach, we pulled on our waterproofs and wellies and got elbow-deep into our first case study: the effect of oxygen concentration as a result of human wastes upon aquatic biodiversity.  We took samples from two different habitats and identified the different species present and their abundance.  We then returned to the classroom to discuss the adaptations of certain species to surviving in the extremes of this abiotic factor, and the effect of human interference on biodiversity.  In the evening we set small mammal traps, to humanely study the activity of these organisms right before they went into hibernation.  The next morning we emptied our traps to discover 8 animals out of 17 traps, a near 50% success rate in comparison to the typical 10%, naming each of our mice and voles before releasing them!  Next was a trip up a small mountain to study the effects of heather in different stages of its life upon the biodiversity of the area, giving us the opportunity to see first-hand the way different species interact in a habitat.  In addition to the biotic influences on the habitat, we also studied and measured the abiotic factors including wind speed, soil pH, humidity, and light intensity.  With the skills learned from the first two days, it was time to put them to the test in our own, independently designed ecological study on the last day.  Each group picked their own habitat in which to conduct a study of the effect of an abiotic or biotic factor on the biodiversity or abundance of a species within that area.  With the data that we had collected, we performed calculations to measure the biodiversity and finally a full lab write-up.  This trip is one that we shall never forget, filled with days of practical biological application and seeing the ecosystems around us with a new-found appreciation and understanding of the intricate network of interactions.