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The Gower Peninsula

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Biology Coursework Field Studies The Gower Peninsula Introduction Before deciding on what to do for my main investigation, I decided to carry out a preliminary investigation on two different beaches. One was sheltered and one was an exposed beach. This preliminary investigation will give me some knowledge of the variety of species on the beaches from which I will choose one to concentrate on in my main field study. I chose a site close to Mumbles, which is near Swansea in Wales as the site for the investigation because there is a sheltered and an exposed beach very close to one another in that area. One is exposed to the powerful waves of the Atlantic Ocean while the other is sheltered by a bay. I will also observe the changes in species abundances to give me an idea of where the different zones on the beaches are and so help me further with choosing my main investigation. Preliminary Investigation I will be using a transect technique to record my data, this way the investigation could be repeated easily as the method is simple and allows for a margin of error. There are three types of transect but I have decided to use a belt transect for the following reasons. ...read more.


I have decided to use a thirty-centimetre ruler for convenience as a metre rule would be too long to carry around on the rocky shore and because anything smaller would make it hard to determine an accurate length of long fronds. In the preliminary experiment, I found that the lengths of the fronds varied so greatly that taking measurements to the nearest centimetre will be sufficient to gain data that will show a variation. I will take sixty readings for both frond length and number of air sacs from each area, giving me two hundred and forty readings in all. Anomalous readings are always inevitable, however by taking so many readings, any anomalous values that will be recorded will make little difference to my final statistical data and so will not affect my conclusions. Through research on the Internet, I have discovered that the Ascophyllum Nodosum plants do not begin to grow air sacs until their fifth year and then only grow one each year after reaching that stage of maturity and so the age of the plant can be determined by knowing the number of air sacs on one of its fronds. However, this can also be misleading due to the fact that fronds can be torn off by rough conditions such as constant wave action and so an accurate age of the plants cannot always be established. ...read more.


The area below the mid-shore point is submerged by water almost twice as much as the area above the mid-shore point. This means that the Ascophyllum Nodosum plants which are rooted below the mid-shore point have around half as much time as the plants which are rooted above the mid-shore point in which to photosynthesise during the hours of light. This would mean that the growth rate of the plants in the middle to upper zone would be much higher than the plants in the middle to lower zone. Through research I have found that it normally takes five years for the Ascophyllum Nodosum plant to reach maturity and only then does it begin to produce air sacs and reproduce. If the conditions are unfit, then the time taken to reach maturity can increase and so even though the plants on the beach may be of the same age, they can have different numbers of air sacs. Desiccation can also be a limiting factor in the growth of the plants. If it were a major factor, then I would have found that the plants above the mid-shore point would also have short frond lengths and a low number of air sacs. However, this was not the case, and this can be explained by the fact that the productivity of the plants is only affected if water loss exceeds 50% as Bruinkhuis discovered. Tayler_S ...read more.

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