Year 12 Biology Trip
Our Year 12 biology students visited Slapton, Devon to study the local ecology. Ecology is a diverse and complex field, one that touches on a variety of biological concepts. The visit gave an opportunity for students to see how ecological concepts applied in the real world as well as eliciting a stronger sense of interest amongst the class. This article was written by Aakash Sunil and the photographs were provided by David Chee, year 12.
Our journey began on a crisp summer’s day, the accommodation was homely and the water had that subtle countryside taste that seemed to add to the visceral sense of belonging with the wildlife. We set off and investigated the biodiversity of two slopes in a woodland with different aspects, and therefore microlimates. We then compared the data we collected and drew our conclusions of the influence on microclimate on woodland flora – something that was a lot more interesting than it sounds.
The next day brought a plethora of new knowledge and surprises – notwithstanding the dampening weather and the circling tics that harbour Lyme disease. We investigated the shingle ridge and how abiotic factors vary with the distance from the coast. Taking soil samples and investigating aspects of them back at the lab we drew upon our knowledge of chemistry and our skills in maths.
The last day, and I’m sure many would agree when I say this, was by far the best day, despite the bleak weather - the rain had loosened the soil, making trudging through it quite a nuisance at times. Regardless, we collected animal samples from a stream and analysed their behaviour. In so doing, we could apply our freshly acquired knowledge of taxes and kinesis: the reasons for animal movement.
I think many people dismiss ecology, seeing it as a superficial and trivial branch of biology. However, if we took nothing else out of this trip, the one thing that I’m adamant had stayed with us is how ecological processes can have a tremendous impact on people and environments. It is for that valuable sense of enlightenment that I would like to thank all the teachers who were involved in this trip - and I’m sure that everyone else, although squirming through their horsefly bites, would agree too.
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