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Inspiring Young People

Biology Fieldwork July 2016

Biology Fieldwork

On Wednesday 13 July we undertook some biology fieldwork in the beautiful grounds at our school. During the fieldwork day we used a variety of skills such as data interpretation, practical application and data analysis to successfully carry out an ecology required practical.

We had two practical activities to perform on this day. In the first practical we were investigating the effect of weedkiller on buttercups. We studied two sections of grass each 5m by 5m; one had been treated with weedkiller and the other had not. We used string to create a grid effect, to create a 10x10 area. We used a calculator to generate random co ordinates so that the data collected was completely random thus improving the reliability of our data. We generated 13 co ordinates and at each co ordinate we placed a quadrant and counted the number of buttercups that were present. We did this in both a treated and non treated area and then calculated the mean number of buttercups for both areas. We then analysed this data statistically using the student T test and could confirm with 95% confidence that applying weedkiller reduced the number of buttercups in this area.

The second investigation involved a separate area of grass stretching out 20m from under a tree. This investigation involved a belt transect which involved measuring light intensity (using a light meter), pH (by taking soil samples and analysing them) and counting the number of species present in a quadrant placed at every 2m away from the tree. We were able to collect 10 sets of data each and analysed our results using a statistical test called Spearman’s Rank. This allowed us to conclude with 95% confidence that there was no correlation between pH or light intensity with the distance from the tree. Overall, the day was very enjoyable and everyone successfully gathered data and results. The day allowed us to practise the sampling skills and statistical skills we learnt in class and apply them to a real life ecological situation.

written by Hannah, Year 12