Sun, sea and sand

Y12 students spent yesterday enjoying the sunshine on the beach yesterday- but all in the cause of collecting precise data about the sand dunes found there!

In preparation for their Unit 4a exam in January 2013, the Y12 were set the task of investigating the question “To what extent does plant succession occur within the dune system at Blue Point” and will now spend time producing a written report based on their findings as part of their Ecosystems topic.

Plant species identification using random quadrat sampling

Sand dunes systems are far more complex that they may appear. An extensive dune system will feature berms, embryo dunes, yellow dunes, grey dunes, dune slacks and blow outs, and each of these will have different plants species (biodiversity) and different amounts of species (biomass)  and soil type, pH, water available, salt content and gradients will all vary.  More information about sand dune systems (psammoseres) can be found here.

Calculating infiltration rates on different vegetated and non-vegetated surfaces

Students were therefore challenged to collect information about each of these factors, including identifying plant species, measuring infiltration rates, and collecting soil samples which will then tested in the science labs for moisture and organic matter content. By careful analysis of all the results students will be able to determine whether the sand dunes at Bluepoint fit the theoretical sand dune system and whether plant succession is as expected, or whether human influences such as footpath erosion and pastoral agriculture have altered the process.

Using a clinometer to calculate gradients

Wet feet!

Standing on a yellow dune, with a grey dune in the background

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Categories: Year 12 Category, Year 13 Category

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