This 5-day fieldwork course offers unrivalled opportunity for students to undertake an array of environmental investigations in a variety of inspiring habitats. Students will develop their research and practical skills and deepen their understanding of real-world Environmental Science.
Students will gain first-hand experience of almost all the standard environmental techniques (188.8.131.52) and in-depth understanding of all required methodologies. They will have the opportunity to use a variety of specialist fieldwork equipment including moth traps, soil ovens, bat-detectors and infiltrometers.
Mathematical skills and the use of GIS will be used to interrogate and manipulate fieldwork data, including a variety of graphical forms, the calculation of Simpson’s Index of Diversity, measures of dispersion, uncertainties and percentage error, and the appropriate use of statistical tests.
Students will be inspired by dynamic environments and real-world application of subject content as they meet the specification requirement of 4 days of fieldwork.
- Students greeted by FSC staff.
- Welcome talk and Centre tour.
- Pre-course meeting with FSC staff and teachers.
- Allocation of wellies/waterproofs.
Random sampling will be used to collect biotic and abiotic data to compare two contrasting areas of woodland or grassland. Students will calculate Simpson’s Index of Diversity for ground flora. Findings will be linked to wider context of forest management, considering issues such as biodiversity and productivity, soil, hydrology, and climate change.
Using the data collected in the afternoon, students have the opportunity to consider data presentation techniques and use a Mann-Whitney U statistical test to compare the biodiversity in their two sample areas.
Freshwater Pollution Study
An investigation into the effect of organic pollution in a freshwater ecosystem. Students will collect data, using kick sampling, on species abundance, diversity and composition and learn how freshwater invertebrates can be used to calculate biotic indices. They will also measure associated abiotic factors including pH, temperature, nitrate and phosphate levels, and dissolved oxygen content to help support their findings.
Afternoon and Evening
First-hand experience using different techniques to investigate populations of organisms including estimating the population size of an organism in a habitat using the Lincoln Index, investigating invertebrate communities using pitfall traps, and considering how temporal change impacts the populations of flying organisms using moth traps and bat detectors.
Morning and Afternoon
An investigation into the process of ecological succession exploring how plant communities and associated environmental factors change over time. Students may use systematic sampling to collect data along a transect for a range of abiotic factors and species’ abundance and distribution using appropriate quadrats. This data can then be used to construct scatter graphs and analyse relationships between biotic and abiotic factors using Spearman's Rank Correlation Coefficient.
Management and Conservation of Habitats
Students will consider human impacts on conservation, how the control of ecological succession is needed to conserve plagioclimax habitats. Students will also consider how human activity can threaten conservation efforts, using a real-world decision-making task based on their study location during the day.
The Carbon Cycle
An investigation into the role of woodland in carbon storage and sequestration. Students will calculate mean tree mass and tree spacing to estimate carbon storage per hectare in a woodland. Students can then consider the carbon footprints of various activities and investigate the effectiveness of carbon offsetting schemes.
Afternoon and Evening
Measuring Edaphic Factors
Using local habitats as a context, students will consider the causes of soil fertility, degradation and erosion, and soil management strategies. They will design activities to investigate environmental issues associated with soil which could include looking at percentage moisture and organic content, soil pH, sedimentation and use of soil triangles.
Ecosystem Management and Conservation
A visit to a local site of conservation interest to consider the importance of the conservation of biodiversity. Real life examples will be used to discuss the way in which human activities are affecting biodiversity, the importance of ecological monitoring and methods of conserving biodiversity, including international and local legislation and protocols, habitat management techniques and sustainable resource management.
Depart at Midday
- Review of the course.
- Signposting further actions and opportunities with the FSC and beyond.
- Final farewell from FSC staff.
Please note: to ensure safe and quality learning experiences for students, the timetable may alter depending on weather conditions and local factors at centres.
How this course fulfills the specification
3.1.2 Conservation of biodiversity
3.1.3 Life processes in the biosphere and conservation planning
3.2.4 Carbon cycle
3.4.3 Nutrient pollution
3.5.3 Forest resources
Me 1 Random sampling
Me 2 Systematic sampling along a transect
Me 3 Number of samples
Me 4 Sample size
Me 5 Sample timing
Me 6 Statistical analysis
ST 1 Measurement of abiotic factors
ST 2 The use of quadrats to measure biotic factors
ST 3 Measurement of edaphic factors
ST 4 The use of methods to measure biotic factors related to animal taxa on the soil surface and in soil
ST 5 The use of methods to measure biotic factors related to animal taxa on foliage and flying animals
ST 6 The use of aquatic sampling methods to measure biotic factors
Added value of this course
- Develop personal skills
- Have fun
- Be inspired by a passion for the subject
- Build friendships