A comparison of marine organisms on shale & limestone coasts. Doolin, Ireland.

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Doolin is situated in the Burren area of county Clare, Ireland. The area is famous for its limestone landscape and is highly acknowledged as an area of global importance for its flora, fauna and ecology. Doolin represents a unique limestone pavement and terrain which supports a diversity of rare marine habitats. In 1988, in recognition of its importance, the state Wildlife Service recommended the designation of the area as a Nature Reserve.

Due to the extent of coastline in county Clare, the marine and coastal habitats are very important. The Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Ireland is relatively clean compared to other oceans. This is illustrated by the amount of seaweed there. The Gulf Stream off the west coast of Ireland creates a warm, oceanic climate, which has a very significant influence on the species and habitats which occur in Doolin and increases the biodiversity.

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Doolin Village

The Doolin coast consists of both limestone and shale wave-cut platforms, both of which appear rich in diversity of flora and fauna. Doolin coast contains a wide range of invertebrates, some highly mobile, others fixed or sedatory, and shore fishes, are a characteristic feature. Brightly coloured lichens form distinct bands on the high shore, seaweeds are present in abundance, and where sediment occupies rockpools flowering plants dominate. This assignment will look at the comparison of marine organisms on two wave cut platforms; shale and limestone.

There are three simple aims for the fieldwork at Doolin, all of which are achievable and important to our findings:

. To determine if there is any relationship between organisms and bedrock type.

2. To establish if there is any correlation between bio-diversity and distance from shoreline.

3. To ascertain if there is a relationship between species diversity and rock pool size.

From adequate knowledge of marine organisms and of the Burren area, a number of hypotheses can be created. Firstly it is thought that the greatest bio-diversity of marine organisms will be found in rock pools on shale wave cut platforms. Bio-diversity of marine organisms will also be greater with decreasing distance from the shoreline. In terms of rock pool characteristics it is predicted that species diversity will increase with increasing pool size (depth & pool diameter). It is also thought that sheltered rock pools will have a greater bio-diversity than rock pools which are exposed to wind and wave action. The results of the investigation will hope to prove these hypotheses as either correct or incorrect.
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Doolin is relatively unique in terms of its coastal geomorphology as it has two wave-cut platforms of differing geology; limestone and shale. This site is therefore ideal for comparing marine life in two different environments. The only problem that could be encountered while working at Doolin would be the tide. It was vital that data was collected as the tide was going out as this would give the most up to date information as to what was in the rockpools. Two transects were set out in both sites, each transect going from the shoreline inland until ...

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