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The positive correlation shows that the older the molehill the higher the species diversity index. This could be explained by the fact that when the moles first push up the soil it disturbs the plants

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Introduction

INTRODUCTION Foulden common is covers a vast area both sides of the Oxborough to Foulden road and includes a variety of different habitats including young woodland, ponds, drainage channel, stream, reed swamp, surrounding farmland and grassland. The grassland is a predominantly alkaline area but in some locations it becomes neutral or even acidic. It has not been disturbed for many hundreds of years, though recently it has suffered due to the instability of the grazing regime. This habitat also contains a number of microhabitats; one of which is the molehill. Molehills are formed by moles who form complex burrow systems underground as they are predominantly subterranean creatures. They push the excess soil out of their burrow systems and this forms molehills above the ground. When these molehills are formed it inevitably disturbs many species of plants which were growing above the ground. The soil that is pushed upwards is generally well oxygenated, dry and warm. These conditions are perfect for the plant life to re-establish itself on the molehill. This could be done in three ways: 1. Plants buried under the loose soil may force their way upwards and re-establish themselves. 2. Dormant seeds in the soil may germinate due to the new conditions that the molehill has improved. New seeds, usually wind pollinated, may arrive on the molehill and germinate. 3. Surrounding plants with creeping habits may infiltrate their way onto the molehill. This will not occur immediately after the molehill is formed so the plants will require time to re-establish themselves. It then stands to reason that older molehills will have a greater number and diversity of plant species growing on them than newer molehills, as the plants will have had more time to re-establish themselves. This investigation attempts to find out whether the age of the molehill will have an effect on the species diversity growing on it. PLAN HYPOTHESIS The compactness of the soil of the molehill will alter with the age of the molehill. ...read more.

Middle

4 6 3 0 6 0 19 hoary plantain 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 4 agrostic 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 3 jointed rush 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 GRADE FOUR species number of specie total 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 mouse eared hawkweed 0 2 0 7 2 1 0 12 lesser hawkbit 10 7 13 11 12 10 15 78 self heal 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 3 knopweed 0 0 0 0 3 4 0 7 ladies bedstraw 0 0 0 4 2 0 5 11 salad burnett 4 14 9 9 8 7 12 63 pseudosclropodium 0 0 0 4 1 0 5 10 ribwort piontain 1 0 2 0 5 1 6 15 rest harrow 8 0 7 0 10 5 0 30 danylion 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 fescue 5 0 10 6 9 1 3 34 broadleafed meadoweed 14 5 16 7 0 16 0 58 yarrow 0 3 0 0 0 0 1 4 hoary plantain 2 4 3 4 0 0 0 13 agrostic 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 jointed rush 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 GRADE FIVE species number of specie total 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 mouse eared hawkweed 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 lesser hawkbit 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 ladies bedstraw 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 salad burnett 0 0 3 2 1 4 0 10 pseudoscleropodium 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 3 fescue 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 3 broadleafed meadoweed 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 yarrow 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 3 hoary plantain 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 3 jointed rush 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 GRADE SIX species number of specie total 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 lesser hawkbit 2 ...read more.

Conclusion

2. Dormant seeds may germinate or new seeds, probably wind-dispersed seeds, may arrive. The soil pushed up from underground is usually warmer, dryer and better oxygenated than the top soil. These would be perfect conditions for this to occur. 3. The final way is for surrounding plants with creeping habits to infiltrate onto the molehill. All of this, however, is takes time and the more time they have the more species and individual organisms will be able to establish themselves. This means that in theory the older the molehill the greater species diversity it will have growing on it which supports the findings from this experiment. This means that the experimental hypothesis was correct. There are two anomalous results highlighted on the graph plotting SDI against grade of molehill. The first is the SDI value for the grade 1 molehills which is 0. This, however, is not due to any environmental factors but simply because the Simpson's index formula used meant that if all the species had a frequency of one then the SDI would be N x (N-1)/0. This is not an accurate SDI value so the formula is flawed. The second anomalous result was the SDI value for the grade 7 molehills which is a lot lower than the line of best fit on the graph. This could be for many reasons, one of which is that measuring the compaction of the soil is not the most accurate method of determining the age of the molehill so the molehills used may not have been the age that was thought. Another finding of this experiment was that there was only a very weak correlation between the total species frequency and the age of the molehill. This could be explained by the fact that species frequency does not count the number of individual organisms so there may have been a large number of individual organisms densely packed into one square and would only be valued at one, while a single stray organism would still get the same value if it were the only one in the quadrat. ...read more.

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