Y13 braved the inclement (i.e. completely torrential cloudbursts) last week to try their hand at identifying species within ecosystems.
Firstly they ticked the box for ‘deciduous woodland’ by collecting leaf and minibeast samples at Molly Quirk Glen, enabling them to recognise native trees such as oak, ash and birch, and the dominant species beech. They also had to analyse site factors and location, to see how slopes and prevailing winds may have altered direction of branches and canopies, how the south facing side of the trunk was drier and less prone to moss or lichen, and also how leaf litter restricted growth on the forest floor and at shrub level. They also considered how management of the woodland influenced growth patterns- new plantings, removal of trees allowing light into new areas, and the planting of non-native species such as Rhododendron and other invasive species.
Following this, the students looked at two contrasting ‘heather moorland’ ecosystems, one of which was above Creg-ny-Baa where the the heather has reached its mature stage and other species such as mountain ash, bramble and bilberries are becoming established due to restrictions on grazing and fire management in the area. This was compared with grazed moorland at Keppel Gate, where the heather is much less well established and at low level, and grass and reeds are more successful able to complete for light, nutrients and space.
And as for ‘Jumping Joe’? The best way to get through tall heather apparently. Hilarious!