Thursday, 30 January 2014

Soil profile

In principles of ecology we had to make a soil profile on a common near Caerphilly. The idea of this is to dig down however far you need to go. We did a metre. We dug a hole big enough to be able to see the soil profile. This is where you can see the different layers of the soil. 

You can clearly see the layer on this the photo (above).

This was a particularly hard practical as it was a very stoney area and there were lots of large rocks we had to dig out, and when only you and one/two others in your group wants to do any hard work, a few hours of doing this really has a toll on your hands and back. 

Whilst we were digging we had to test the soil types of each layer in various ways, such as how moist it was or how well you could mould it/roll it into a ball; as well as write about the area and the weather at the time we were there. 

The picture above shows the start of the hole, this was our third attempt as this patch had the least amounts of large rocks. There were still a lot but at least we could budge these ones without breaking the shovel/spade.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Im going to South Africa!

As if I wasn't excited enough, I had my first Big Game Tracking lecture today. It was just a brief summary of some of the stuff we were going to be covering and other general information.

He told us we needed to learn 5 plant species, 5 bird species and 5 tracks/spores a day whilst we're out there, although I'll obviously need to know a lot of the common ones and some mammals before we go. (He ran through a few today, just to give us a taster). 

We're unbelievably lucky that we get to go to places that we wouldn't normally get to go, for example private parts of the reserves. 

My lecturer also explained in a bit more detail the shooting aspect of what we'll do when we're out there. We have to learn to shoot a rifle and a handgun and be able to know the correct spots to hit them to be able to take an animal down quickly. This is mainly to protect ourselves and others if something if it poses as a threat to you and others around you, you need to be react quickly. 

He also told me about how hunting funds a big part of conservation. Tourism doesn't bring in a lot of money for them, however hunters that come across will pay far more than a tourist would. (although I'm almost certain that you need a licence and a permit). Although I'm not too sure how I fell about that, its one thing to protect yourselves and other around you, but another to do it for fun. But I cant argue that its an easy way for them to fund conservation out there.

On a happier note, I'm also looking forward to seeing some penguins as well as all the normal safari animals! 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Plants under a Microscope

My portfolio for my practicals in Diversity of life 1 I have to draw prepared angiosperm sections. I have to draw and fully annotate the following: root, shoot, stem, leaf, inflorescence and epidermis. the rest of the portfolio will be doing the same for some gymnosperm tissue sections and then for some algae and lower plant live cultures. the second part will be writing about the plant life cycle using rapid cycling brassicas.

Meanwhile doing the drawings of the Angiosperm sections I took some pictures down the microscope. 

(Above; l.s Inflorescence, 4x/0.10)

 (Above; t.s leaf, 10x/0.22)

(Above; l.s root tip, 4x/0.10)

(Above; l.s tangenial stem, 4x/0.10)

(Above; l.s radial stem, 4x/0.10)

(another stem that I looked at but didn't use for my portfolio.)

...and now to get on with all this drawing...

Monday, 27 January 2014

Sully Shore Field Trip

We got a coach to Sully shore to do a species diversity survey along the shoreline of the different algae, seaweed, molluscs and barnacles etc.

Getting to our starting point was an adventure in itself, the seaweed was very slippery and the rocks with out seaweed were wet from rain and slippery all the same.

We had to measure the decline (/incline) of the slope down from the cliff to the sea. We did this by using a 30m tape measure as a transect and then measured every 2m with two striped poles and measuring the height difference between each. At every 2m a quadrat is placed and all the species present recorded as well as the percentage of each of the species within it.

Being Wales and winter it was raining on and off the entire time we were there with only one brief interval of sun. When it got just after four the sun went down and it got so bitterly cold that I could barely feel nor move my hands much. And I was pretty sure my wellies had started to leak...

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Crayfish Dissection

One of my first practical’s for my module 'Diversity of Life 2' was to dissect crayfish. This module covers the diversity of the invertebrates. Half of the module is arthropods and the other half is on everything else...

In college I had dissected a fair few of the basic things like pigs hearts, lungs, frogs, rats and even an octopus but nothing to the skill in which I would need for my degree. It was fairly straight forward, and it was very interesting. I learnt that putting it underwater after the initial dissection enabled me to see things more clearly for example its gills. 

I also had to do a two detailed scientific diagrams; one of the external dorsal view of the crayfish and another of the ventral internal anatomy.

A very interesting start to my degree.