Species diversity on the Ynyslas sand dunes.

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Species diversity on the Ynyslas sand dunes

For this work we went to the Rheidol study centre near Aberystwyth in Wales.  From here the field work was carried out on the Ynyslas sand dunes near the River Dovey mouth on the west coast of Wales (see map).

Sand dune formation

To form the following things are needed: supply of sand



Stage 1 - Sand particles are transported by the prevailing wind by the process of saltation. If there is a stabiliser, an obstacle, sand is deposited on the leeward side where it can no longer be picked up be the wind.  The grains build up and form a small dune.

Stage 2 - Dune continues to grow and in colonised by pioneer species such as marram grass.  The roots bind the sand and the shoots trap more sand and an embryo dune is formed.

Stage 3 - The dune increases in size  and is colonised by further species, making it more stable.  New dunes form in front of older ones.

The unique formation system of sand dunes leads to plant succession and zonation on the dunes.

While doing trail work on dune vegetation I noticed that the number of species present increased as the age of the dunes increased.  I can see from research that the probable reason for this is that the older dunes are at a later stage of succession than the younger ones so will have a higher diversity of plant species.  I decided to investigate the species diversity on the sand dunes to see if this is true.


To investigate the change in species diversity as the distance from the first dune increases.

I am measuring the distance from the first dune as this relates to the age, i.e the further away you go the older the dune will be, but the distance can be accurately measured where as the age cannot.



Tape measure

0.5m x 0.5m quadrat


Species identification key

Recording sheet

Risk assessment

The sand dunes can be steep and uneven, this may cause you to slip or fall so care should be taken at all times.

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When throwing the quadrats for  do not throw them high, far or hard. Check the area before throwing so as not to hit any thing or body.


  • At the bottom of the first sand dune take a random sample using the quadrat. To do this throw the quadrat, where it lands is the sample area.
  • Using the ID keys, identify the species present in the quadrat.
  • Record which species are present.
  • Add up the total number of species present and record it.
  • Repeat 3 times
  • Set the compass along the transect
  • Measure 30 meters
  • ...

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