Biology Trip

Lower VI Biology Trip

On Tuesday, the A Level Biologists set out into Amersham Field Centre to become ecologists for the day. 


We started off the morning gathered around the benches in the outdoor classroom, discussing our main aim of the day: how were we going to investigate the diversity of ground flora in two deciduous woodland ecosystems? 


At first, this question seemed somewhat intimidating, although after working together to recall some sampling techniques, from random to stratified methods, and abiotic and biotic factors to potentially investigate, all that was left to do was to go out and collect our data. 


However, before doing so, we carried out a quick investigation to estimate the population of a mobile species, where we had the task of finding and collecting woodlice within a measured area of the woodland. 


In our small groups we lifted damp logs and dug beneath the surface of the soil in search of their dark brown exoskeletons, exclaiming (ever so slightly overdramatically) each time they were spotted.


In true Abbey spirit, we did so competitively, determined to find more woodlice than each other, and undoubtedly making the task even more fun. 


We then counted and marked them before releasing them back to where they were found, ready to be counted again at the end of the day. 


Our random sampling skills were put to test as we moved from place to place with the quadrat, plant index and ruler in hand. After using a number sheet to randomly select our coordinates, we would place the quadrat in the area and identify the different plant species, their abundance. The soil depth, light intensity and air temperature in that area were three examples of the few other pieces of data we measured and collected, contributing to a range of data which we could then draw conclusions from. 


We repeated this process at ten different coordinates in both woodlands. We not only learned how to collect data using apparatus which some of us haven’t used before, but we also reinforced our knowledge which we had been taught in lessons by applying it into a real-life investigation and drawing conclusions by comparing our results between woodlands. 


By doing this, we also were more aware of the limitations with our methods of data collection in general, and what made some of our results differ from other groups. 


By collaboratively listening to each other, and working together, we were all able to learn new things that day, whether it was about how to calculate a diversity score for a community using the Simpson’s index, or that a sorrel plant would be great in a salad.