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An Investigation of the Diversity and Abundance of Ground Flora in Coppices of Different Ages

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Introduction

An Investigation of the Diversity and Abundance of Ground Flora in Coppices of Different Ages PLANNING Aim: To investigate the diversity and abundance of ground flora in the young and old coppices at Nower Wood. INTRODUCTION Nower Wood location/background: Nower Wood is located in Leatherhead, Surrey and lies at the head of a dry valley. It covers approximately 80 acres of ancient woodland, consisting mainly of Oak and Sweet Chestnut tress. As it is an Educational Nature Reserve, we carried out our investigations here and extended our wide range of information about the woodland and what takes place. Nower Wood was originally purchased in 1970, and within two years a wooden building was bought in order to teach people in. Wardens were appointed to teach students about the woodland, and also to look after the wood. What is coppicing? This has been the common type of ancient woodland management at Nower Wood and has taken place over the past 400 years. It is the process in which young tree stems are cut down to either a low level or even right down to the ground to prevent them from overgrowing. Coppicing allows vigorous growth of new shoots, and as a result trees and shrubs which are cut down this way, can produce shoots that grow over 30cm in a week and a coppiced tree can live many times longer than if the tree had not been cut down at all. This is due to the fact that when trees are coppiced, then more amounts of light can reach to the ground floor than when it was being blocked out by the tall uncoppiced trees. The coppice cycle lasts for about 10-15 years. Woodland structure: Towards the most top part of the woodland, is the canopy layer. This layer is composed mainly of the largest trees in the woodland, which shade the layers below them and not allowing much light to pass through the canopy layer. ...read more.

Middle

For example, if the numbers were 12, 15, then you would need to find 12 across one tape measure along the x-axis and 15 across the other along the y-axis. You would walk along these points until they meet, and this would be where the quadrat is placed. However with trees (old coppice) and other groups in the way, and possibly not walking straight, it was easy to get sidetracked slightly. But luckily the coordinates we were provided with were ones which ensured that there would be no trees in the way, and the coordinated had already had wooden stands as to where the quadrat was to be placed on top of. This not only ensured that there were no trees in the way, but also that we did not need to worry about not walking straight, as the quadrat stands were already fixed into position. The point of the quadrat is that it covers ground surface area as a percentage (1 square in a quadrat is 1%). We would look down through the quadrat, which was placed on stands of about 1 metre off the ground, and then count the number of plant species present in that quadrat space. Having done this, the next step was to record the different plant species observed onto a record sheet (green sheet). Everyone used 5 quadrats in each coppice, ensuring a fair test had been undertaken. Our group teacher provided us with a key for identifying the various different plant species within the quadrats. Using random number sampling (sheet with random coordinates on it) ensured that the results were not bias, and this also eliminates human selectivity, but were reliable because if chose the areas myself, then I would most likely choose an area with many plant species in it. We were all familiar with the above method for placing the quadrats where they were supposed to be placed, as we had practiced a trial coursework experiment at School in the Head's garden and on the School field. ...read more.

Conclusion

This would save us time looking in the key for similar pictures of the plant name we are trying to find. Also instead of using just five quadrats in each coppice, perhaps if we used more, then this would show less impact on the anomalies on our results. If we used more sensitive equipment, such as a soil pH meter to calculate the soil pH rather than adding approximate ingredients, then the readings would be even more accurate. A soil pH meter is electronic and can be placed straight into the ground to record the pH of the soil in each coppice. By using this device, we do not have to worry about comparing the colour of the soil when tested, against a pH colour chart. If the raised wooden posts, on which the quadrats were placed on, were lowered, then we would be given a better and clearer view of the plants within the quadrat. As mentioned in the limitations, the investigation should be done in Winter too so that results can easily be compared to one another. By this, we could also see what impact factors make in comparison with our current results. For a final improvement, as the weather conditions changed while in each coppice, I think the experiments should be done at the same time as each other. This would ensure that the results are not affected by the weather while taking down readings in one coppice and then the other. FURTHER WORK For the investigation to be furthered, I can investigate one other hypothesis which might affect the diversity and abundance of ground flora. This new hypothesis could be that 'if the diversity and abundance of fauna is high in a coppice, then the diversity and abundance of ground flora will also be high in that same coppice'. As fauna is animal species, such as insects, then if the abundance and diversity of plant species is high, then there is more food for animals to eat. Simran Kooner ...read more.

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