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Summarising the differences between deciduous and coniferous woodland.

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Ecology Report: Summarising the differences between deciduous and coniferous woodland. This report will attempt to explain some differences in energy flow and nutrient cycles between two types of woodland: deciduous and coniferous, using secondary data, and primary data collected during fieldwork. I predict that a greater amount of energy passes through a deciduous woodland ecosystem than a coniferous one. I think that as leaves fall from deciduous trees, primary consumers use them to create energy. At these times the canopy disappears and more sunlight reaches lower levels, also creating more energy. These factors mean more all-round energy, more animals and a more 'alive' ecosystem. The world's coniferous woodlands are generally in colder areas that receive less sunlight, and the permanent canopy prevents sunlight from reaching lower levels. The fieldwork site, Constitution Hill Viewpoint, is set on a hill in a residential area in Poole. It is mixed woodland, containing small areas of deciduous and coniferous woodland. Conifers at the site are mainly Scots Pine, whilst Oak is the dominant broad-leaved deciduous tree. Being mixed woodland, our samples might not show clearly contrasting results because of an overlap of the woodland, but samples were taken from as clearly defined areas as the site would allow. ...read more.


(Jones & Jones, 1997). One example is the Crested Tit who feeds on beetles, but also eats spiders. A food web is therefore a collection of interrelated food chains. Nutrient Cycling "Ecosystems are self-sustaining. One of the reasons is because they recycle nutrients." (Dawson, 2003) The Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles depict how carbon and nitrogen flow within ecosystems. Carbon in the atmosphere is mostly Carbon Dioxide (CO2), which plays an important role in supporting life. As far as woodland ecosystems are concerned, carbon is taken from the atmosphere by plants, which use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are passed on to animals during feeding. CO2 is released back into the atmosphere through respiration performed by plants and animals. CO2 is also put back into the atmosphere when fungi and bacteria break down the carbon compounds in dead animals and plants, converting the carbon to CO2. Woodland areas store large quantities of carbon as peat and other fossil fuels, such as coal, which accumulate when "dead plant material cannot rapidly be broken down by decomposers, such as where soils are waterlogged and oxygen is in short supply" (Jones & Jones, 1997). ...read more.


4 3 4 1 2 1 4 1 2.5 Light reading at ground level (A-H) A B A D A A A A A or B Light reading at 2m (A-H) F F F E C E C D E Soil pH (mean) 5.2 Secondary data: Mean readings taken in Nagshead Nature Reserve Deciduous Woodland Coniferous Woodland Mean Soil pH 5.72 4.95 Mean leaf litter (cm) 1.9 5 Mean soil moisture (1-10) 6.81 3.95 Mean light (ground) (0-10) 3.3 0.7 Mean light (2 metres) (0-10) 5.5 1.2 From "Ecosystems and Human Activity" (1994) RSPB Conclusion The primary and secondary data show a clear difference between the woodlands. The depth of humus and litter layers is greater in coniferous areas, while deciduous woodland receives more light below the canopy. Soil holds more moisture, and is less acidic, in deciduous areas. Acidic conditions in coniferous woodland effect the speed of nutrient processing. There are fewer decomposers, hence deeper layers of humus and litter. The food chains and food webs support the findings that there are more nutrients available to animals and plants. Food chains can be longer in deciduous woodland ecosystems because there is more energy available, while food webs can be larger and more varied for the same reason. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This essay lacks the attention to detail and use of appropriate A level biological and scientific language to gain more than three stars. The nutrient cycle theory is not clearly linked to the field work.

3 Stars

Marked by teacher Adam Roberts 25/10/2014

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