By Zeno Khairy and Theodore Taylor
Last weekend, a group of Lower Sixth A Level Biology students embarked on a trip to Dorset to experience the incredible biodiversity of the south coast and to get involved first-hand with conservation and sampling. We stayed at Leeson House, a beautiful house renovated to provide students with purpose-built accommodation for field trips.
We arrived on Friday at Studland Bay, where we met our excellent instructor Tricia. We set off and immediately began learning about the dunes, the many habitats at different distances from the sea and about how the vast numbers of species have adapted to survive in all the different conditions at Studland Bay.
In the evening, Leeson House provided us with lots of activities to do, from football in the gardens to playing table tennis in the games room. The hospitality of the staff made us all feel like we were at home, not to mention the amazing food they laid out at the end of a long day.
On Saturday, we started our day by sampling as many woodlice as we could for our population study. We marked them carefully with paint on their backs, then we released them back where we found them, to be recaptured the next day. Then we embarked on our second trip across to Kimmeridge Bay. The weather was cold, wet and windy, however, the amazing habitats of the rock planes on the beach kept our enthusiasm high and we were able to work together to complete our second and third practical of the day. First, we collected data of all the species found on the beach and then we created our own investigation by examining the distribution of our own chosen species at different distances from the sea. Tricia’s expertise opened up our eyes to see the many perils thousands of species of fish, crustaceans and plants have to go through every day to survive.
On our final day, we re-sampled woodlice and using our data and the Lincoln Index, we were able to estimate the total population size of woodlice in the area. We walked to two different ponds where we sampled the different species that could be found in the rich habitats there. We ended the trip on a high when we found large newts, snails and dragonfly larvae in our samples.
Our trip to Dorset was both eye opening and enjoyable. We have learnt so much more about biodiversity and we completed our practical investigations to the highest standard. We couldn’t recommend Leeson House more highly to future biologists at College, and we look forward to applying the knowledge we have learnt to exam questions.