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An Investigation To Observe the Preferred Habitat of common rough woodlice.

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Introduction

AN INVESTIGATION TO OBSERVE THE PREFERRED HABITAT OF COMMON ROUGH WOODLICE by Melanie Newberry A2 Human Biology April 2003 Introduction There are many species of Woodlice found in the British Isles and because of their abundance they provide good material for an ecological investigation into their preferred habitat. Woodlice are of the order Isopoda which means, "the legs are alike"1. Different species prefer different dwellings however the Common Rough Woodlouse (Porcellio scaber) which has been used for this investigation, is commonly found around residential properties. They can be found under rocks or around compost heaps where the soil is moist and a humid atmosphere is maintained. One abiotic factor that affects the habitat of Woodlice includes damp or moist soil. Compost heaps also provide a continuous source of dead plants, which is part of the diet of Woodlice2. This is another abiotic factor. Woodlice are believed to provide a vital role in the decomposition process as their eating habits return essential nutrients to the soil3. Closer examination of the anatomy of the Porcellio scaber may give more understanding of why they may be found in damp conditions. ...read more.

Middle

They do not contain a waterproof outer layer, which is an added disadvantage in a dryer atmosphere as they are more prone to desiccation. Their respiratory organs are found underneath their torso and are situated close to the ground, which would suggest that in a humid environment there could be an efficient exchange of gases. The diet of the Porcellio scaber would similarly be more abundant in a humid environment as this is a suitable atmosphere for the decomposition of plant tissue. Although the results of this investigation do favour the alternative hypothesis there are some limitations and sources of error that should be considered. The species of Woodlice were selected carefully however; the age or genetic composition of the individuals could not guaranteed. I did not choose an equal sample of male and female Woodlice and different results may have been achieved if the ratio had been equal. The sample of Woodlice used was also small and could not necessarily be representative of the overall population. Similarly there was no guarantee that all 10 individuals came from the same habitat. Another limitation may be that the Porcellio scaber could behave completely different in their normal habitat outside in the garden in comparison to how they behaved under controlled conditions. ...read more.

Conclusion

9. The control experiment will be carried out by placing soaked cotton wool in all sections of the choice chamber to observe whether there is a significant difference in the distribution of Woodlice. Control of Variables Variables for this investigation will be controlled in the following ways; * I will ensure that the choice chamber is kept in a room, which maintains a constant temperature, and that the light intensity is not varied for each repetition of the investigation. This will ensure that the behaviour of the Woodlice should not be affected by changes in temperature or light. * The choice chamber will not be moved whilst the Woodlice are inside as this may change their behaviour and invalidate the results. * Because I will be selecting the same species of Woodlice and collecting them from the same area this should ensure that the genetic composition of the species will be similar and that they are from the same habitat. * I will not change the silica gel or cotton wool in between repetitions as this will mean that the Woodlice are not being exposed to the same conditions. In addition, I will use the same selection of Woodlice for each repetition to ensure continuity of behaviour. ...read more.

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