Biologists visit Crandeale
GCSE and A level biology students visited Cranedale for fieldwork. Here, Aditi outlines the A level students work...
The A level fieldwork...
The Year 13 biologists travelled up to the Yorkshire coast for the weekend. We jumped straight into the deep end, dissecting owl pellets. Though seemingly innocent, owl pellets are in fact the regurgitated remains of the unwitting voles, mice and shrews which compromise an owl's diet. We examined their skeletons under microscopes and identified what species they were, by their jaw bones.
On Saturday we were introduced to coniferous and broadleaf ecosystems and how they were managed. We compared their microclimates and measured the abiotic factors in the different woods. The coniferous wood were introduced for commercial purposes such as timber as they grow tall and straight while the broadleaf were aesthetically pleasing and green.
We spent Sunday at the coast looking at sand dune succession and lessening how adaptations of plants varied at different stages of the succession. It was a fun day at the beach! We really enjoyed the field work during the trip and, just as we remembered from GCSE days, the food at Cranedale was fantastic.
The GCSE fieldwork...
On 11 September, 16 girls studying IGCSE Biology, travelled to the Cranedale Field Centre in North Yorkshire.
When we arrived, we quickly got involved in the practical aspects of biology, setting Longworth traps to catch small mammals in the nearby woods, as well as pitfall traps for smaller invertebrates, night-vision cameras and a moth survey. The night finished with various card games, a cup of hot chocolate and an entertaining serenade on the guitar, next to the fireplace.
The following morning, everyone woke with anticipation of our results in the woods and rightly so, since we caught three bank voles and some hungry slugs! Everyone enjoyed seeing the red-brown voles scuttle off into the undergrowth before discovering a wide variety of delicate moths and crane flies in our survey. After a soggy lunch in the rain, we toured a watercress and rainbow trout farm, taking data from the water entering and leaving the fish farm to investigate its impact on abiotic variables such as oxygen concentration. We even got to try some of the growing watercress, though it wasn’t to everyone’s taste!
Next, we visited a small holding of pigs to learn about selective breeding, and dominant and recessive genes when cross breeding. Then we went on a hunt around the farm to discover their natural, biological control of pests, even meeting the resident protector of the feed shed: the cat, called Badger! As we returned to the centre, we found a pigeon roosting in the boot room, and like us, it was settling in for the night.
The final day saw us on the beautiful Filey Brigg investigating the change in abundance of serrated wrack going up the beach, using quadrats, and, in the rock pools, marine energetics, by finding as many moving animals as we could. We collected many periwinkles, dog whelks, two different types of fish, and most importantly, crabs! Not only has everyone improved their fieldwork skills, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.