Discover The Countryside !

lotter1.jpg (3986 bytes)

The Fascinating World Around Us -
An Introduction to British Wildlife and Habitats, for 16 - 22 year olds.




Activity Outline
5. The Wonderful World of Microhabitats.


wpeF2.jpg (11854 bytes)


This activity highlights the incredible complexity of ecosystems which is a result of the innumerable microhabitats contained within them.

It will investigate the enormous variety of life to be found in different microhabitats within a woodland, although any habitat could be looked at, within reason. Woodlands make a good choice because of the enormous variety of easily accessible microhabitats.

  • What are microhabitats?
  • How are they different from each other?
  • The importance of microclimates.

Look at collembolans in soil, millipedes in leaf litter, slugs on fungal fruiting bodies, beetle larvae in rotting wood, mites in mosses, mosquito larvae in tree pools, caterpillars in the tree canopy, leaf miners in leaves, gall wasps in plant galls and many more besides.

6. The Amazing Variety of Life .


wpeF3.jpg (5934 bytes)


Biodiversity doesn't only exist in rain forests, Britain has its own fair share. It is all around us if we only know how to look.
  • What is biodiversity?
  • Why is it important?
  • Different types of biodiversity - ecosystem, species and genetic.
  • Biodiversity losses in Britain. Biodiversity Action Plans.

A look at the amazing creatures under our noses which we usually fail to see. This will involve a comparative look at some of the fascinating array of creatures and plants to be found in our own local habitats, from diatoms to ducks.

7. Conservation and management of habitats.


conserve.jpg (10662 bytes)


This activity will look at the practicalities of conservation and management, with the benefit of the experience gained from restoring the Centre's own habitats.

Topics covered will include:

  • The concept of succession and the consequent need for management of habitats.
  • Species directed or habitat based conservation.
  • Human influence on landscapes.
  • Management of woodlands,wetlands and heathlands. Students will have the opportunity to see the highly visual effects of a series of different management techniques on a regenerating heathland area.
  • The practicalities of management - economics, labour, seasonal timing of operations, individual species considerations, rotation of management techniques within an area.
  • Restoration of habitats with particular reference to Rhododendron infestation.
8. Freshwater habitats and the problems of pollution.


wpeF2.jpg (5394 bytes)


This activity will look at human influences on freshwater habitats from pollution, to management for maximum wildlife benefit. The following topics will be covered:
  • The important physical and chemical differences between running and still freshwater habitats, from the point of view of the organisms living in them.
  • Different types of pollution.
  • Monitoring.
  • Pollution indicators in streams. Students will get the chance to try their hand at classifying a stream for themselves, using pollution indicators.
  • Control of pollutants.
  • Management of river banks to minimize agricultural pollution and maximize biodiversity.


9. Biological Sampling - Comparing and contrasting habitats.


wpeF4.jpg (12369 bytes)

How do you know what is there? How do you compare different habitats? What sort of methods would you use to sample different kinds of animals? Why do we need to sample?

All of these questions and many more will be answered. The students will practice using various different techniques and methods of biological sampling. Find out the working practicalities of each method, rather than the text book version!

Try such techniques as:

  • Butterfly transects (dependent on the weather!).
  • Line and belt transects for vegetation.
  • Kick sampling streams.
  • Random pitfall trapping for ground beetles
  • Sweepnetting.

Students will benefit greatly from the wealth of data and information freely available on many of the Centre's habitats and species.

10. Night Field Trips


wpeF5.jpg (6816 bytes)


Get an entirely different perspective on the countryside and view it as few people see it. Visit the Centre at night when the atmosphere changes completely. Nothing looks the same in the dark. Creatures that we are often totally unaware even exist, come out of hiding under the cover of darkness.

Put out the moth trap in different habitats and see the difference in the variety of insects drawn to the light. Use a bat detector to track down different kinds of bats. The Centre is an important amphibian breeding site. Visit in March and see hundreds of Toads and search for palmate newts. Badger watch in the summer.

These activities will provide innumerable examples of species which can be used to explain a wide range of environmental principles.