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The beginning of a new academic year, once again saw sixteen Year 13 Biologists heading off to Snowdonia for an intensive introduction to ecology, accompanied by Mr Ormerod and Dr Wastie.
The team arrived at Rhyd y Creuau (the FDC centre in Betws y Coed) to be greeted by their tutor Leah and were soon out on the stream undertaking their first investigation – catching some invertebrates and investigating the water flow rate at each sampled site.
Back at the lab, students had to get to grips with the biggest dichotomous key they had ever seen to identify what had been caught and the dreaded statistical test was employed to determine any significant correlation between flow rate and herbivore population.
They headed out to the sand dunes at Harlech in the beautiful sunshine. After the winter storms, there wasn’t much left of the embryo dunes, but the early stages of succession were clearly visible at the strandline. The scrub at the back of the dune system gave welcomed shade and a chance to reflect on the teaching points raised during the day.
After a warm day spent working hard, who wouldn’t take a well-earned paddle in the blue waters of Cardigan Bay? Before too long the group were all heading back to the lab for yet more data analysis.
Another clear and bright morning greeted us and after another delicious breakfast the team took off to a rocky shore at Penmon Point on Anglesey. Armed with a bucket, eager students needed no encouragement to visit the rock pools and investigate what creatures they could find in this habitat.
A challenge was set, each student had to report back to the group in a ‘show and tell’ to identify a species and its adaptations to life in such a harsh environment. Hermit crabs, Starfish and a wide variety of brown seaweeds were some of the species.
The final morning arrived – unfortunately a damp morning, but the students’ spirits were still high as they headed for the ancient woodland, which was just over the road from the center. Students were introduced to yet another sampling technique to determine if there were differences in the percentage cover of foliose lichens on oak and beech tree trunks. It always helps to get the species right and to check it’s not a holly tree masquerading as an oak tree.
An all-round amazing trip!