FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

Inspiring the next generations of UK wildlife experts

FSC is a partner of ID Trainers for the Future, an innovative work-based training programme led by Natural History Museum. The scheme is delivering 15 one-year traineeships teaching participants surveying skills as well as how to communicate the importance of biological recording and train others. 

As part of their experience each trainee recently visited a different FSC Centre for a short placement to further develop their skills. 

FSC Dale Fort

Sally Hyslop spent her placement at Dale Fort, a military base turned field centre, nestled within the cliffs of the Pembrokeshire coast. Enclosed by rocky shores and saltmarsh it is an ideal location to study coastal ecology and introduce students to scientific field work and identification. During Sally’s stay the school groups grappled with calipers and purple topshells, were amazed by the hidden, microscopic world within their plankton samples and calculated the Dale population of green shore crabs using the mark and recapture method. When studying zonation, the students climbed belt transects up the rocky shore and estimated the distribution of a huge diversity of species. Rock pools were explored and rocks upturned to reveal beadlet anemones, gobys and sea slaters. A belt of black tar lichen ran along the shoreline, and underneath, limpets supported strange, algal hairdos. “Where is the best place for algae to grow? On the back of the animal that eats it!” one of the tutors explained.  The highlight of the placement was a visit to the saltmarsh, scattered with lax flowered sea lavender and samphire. Later, a seine net was pulled along the estuary, uncovering young sticklebacks and flounder.

FSC Millport

Following on from Sally’s coastal adventures, we delve further into the marine world with Chloe Rose identifying species and habitats using the biotope approach. This type of surveying is a national classification tool used to aid management and conservation. This course was attended by Chloe at the Millport FSC centre on the Isle of Cumbrae and was led by the contagiously energetic and enthusiastic Paula Lightfoot. Her three days were jam packed with engaging lectures and field work at Farland Bigh and White Bay. She visited both sheltered and exposed rocky shores to record species communities and the environmental factors affecting them. There was also some tricky identification as well assisted lab work, giving everyone the chance to put their knowledge to the test.