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Sand Dune Succession Coursework

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Sand Dune Succession Coursework Aim: The aim of this experiment is to discover how the pH value and the humus value of soil samples collected along a 600 metre transect change as we travel away from the shoreline. The results will indicate how succession has an affect upon the soil and the environment. Also the plant species number will be recorded and a trend will be drawn from the results of percentage cover. Background Summary: Succession is a gradual directional change in an ecosystem over time. A good example of primary succession can be seen on coastal sand dunes such as Winterton sand dunes. Here many stages of succession can be seen in one place. Primary succession is when the starting point is bare ground with no living things present. In this case the starting point is bare sand. The first species to colonise bare ground like this are called pioneer plants. These are able to survive in very difficult conditions and are more salt tolerant than other plants. The sand has very few nutrients and is also unstable. The pioneer plants, examples are sea rocket and sea holly, must be tolerant of salt pray and have xeromorphic features which aid survival in an area with a lack of fresh water in the fast-drying sand. Over many years the environmental conditions become more suitable for a wider range of plants to live. As the number of species increases, competition increases also. This competition leads to replacement of original species by better adapted ones. It also leads to changes in abiotic factors. These changes occur as a series of seres. The first sere is the embryo dune which is the closest to the water table and shoreline. Here sand is continuously moving around by the force of the wind. To allow the sand to accumulate the wind needs to be obstructed. This could be achieved by seaweed or driftwood lying on the beach. ...read more.


4 1m Metre rulers To find and form the optimum quadrat size. 1 Plant species identification card Species may be correctly identified. This will increase reliability of data recorded. 1 A4 Clip board Enable neat results to be recorded. 1 Trowel To collect soil samples to be tested back in the laboratory. It is easy to use so minimises human error and can be used repeatedly. 15 Small Plastic bag To collect the soil samples and keep them both air tight and water proof so no elemental factors can reduce the reliability of the samples. 15 Small Sticky labels To label each plastic bag how far away it is from the shore line. This will eliminate the samples getting muddles up and increase the reliability of the data recorded. 15 20ml Crucible To help determine the mass. It will produce reliable results as it will not melt in the oven and its mass can be subtracted from that of the combined sol and crucible mass to find the mass of the soil alone. 1 Preheated oven To evaporate any water in the soil and produce a dry soil sample which can be tested for humus percentage. 1 Oven gloves To safely handle the hot crucibles. 1 Bunsen burner To apply sufficient heat to the dry soil samples to test for humus percentage. 1 Gauze To allow the crucible to rest above the Bunsen burner. 1 Tripod To hold the gauze and crucible in place. 1 Heatproof mat To prevent the work surface burning. 1 Electronic scales To measure accurately the masses. 15 Test tubes To test easily the pH value. 3 Test tube racks To hold the test tubes while the soil settles. 1 Universal Indicator To test accurately the pH of the soil. 1 5ml Pipette To apply the indicator easily, drop by drop. Measuring Succession: It is possible to use the distance along a sand dune to study changes over time. ...read more.


If the mass is less than (p) repeat this step until there is no further loss in mass. 10. Calculate the percentage of humus in the soil as follows: * Mass of humus = mass of wet soil - mass of burnt soil. = a - p = q * Percentage of humus in soil =_mass of humus_ x 100 mass of wet soil = q x 100 = a 12. Repeat this for each sample collected recording the results in a table like the one below. Soil pH: 1. Add soil to a depth of 1 cm to a clean test tube. 2. Add water to a depth of 5 cm. 3. Shake thoroughly and leave to settle for at least 10 minutes. 4. Add universal indicator, a few drops, until you can see a colour sufficiently well enough to compare with the colour chart. 5. Record the pH value in a table like the one below. 6. Repeat for each of the soil samples. Soil sample Mass of empty crucible Mass of crucible + wet soil Mass of crucible + dry soil Mass of wet soil Mass of dry soil Percentage of humus in soil sample pH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Safety: When at the sand dunes be careful of your footing as the dune system is very fragile and could collapse in certain areas. Wildlife such as adders should be taken into consideration. Stay to the footpaths to minimise risks. In the laboratory were heat proof gloves when handling hot crucibles or operating the oven. Beware of the Bunsen burner and its open flame. Perform the experiment from arms length. Presentation of results: Data should be displayed in a suitable table where the results can be seen clearly. Graphs should be drawn using the data to show trends in the abiotic factors. Calculations that will be used in the analysis are finding the humus content and wet soil mass. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

This is an excellent essay that outlines how to conduct a transect in the field. It lays out a well defined method and discusses how to collect and collate results.

There is a well written background summary which uses good scientific terminology and demonstrates an excellent understanding of what the writer is researching.

The method is written in a way that would allow anyone to follow it which demonstrates reproducibility and reference is made to reliability and precision.

A good essay that is pleasing to read and mark.


Marked by teacher Sam Morran 08/01/2013

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