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Ecological Concepts

Succession & Biodiversity
Ecological & Statistical Techniques

The habitats we work in can be used to illustrate a variety of ecological concepts.


The theory of succession is common to most specifications. We can suggest a variety of habitats to illustrate this:

~ The Border Mires, near Hadrianís Wall, Stonehaugh and Kielder forest, offer a fantastic opportunity to study the process of succession from the last ice age! With peat coring equipment students will look back 1000ís of years. In participating in the National Parkís MICCI climate change survey students will contribute data and learn of the National (SSSI) and International (RAMSAR) importance of these mires.

~ A visit to Bakethin Nature Reserve illustrates how managing succession can enhance biodiversity.

~ Sand dunes. Although not a habitat local to the residential centres, a visit to study dune ecology can easily be arranged at the start or end of a trip.


Increasingly emphasised in specifications, the importance of management for biodiversity will be illustrated through practical work such as woodland structure and type comparisons, red squirrel surveys or diversity studies of hay meadows.

Management for biodiversity can also be demonstrated through visits to Nature Reserves such as Bakethin and Falstone or ancient oak woodland.

A visit to Kielder Castle interpretation centre will illustrate the Forestry Commission's strategy for the management of Kielder Forest.

Incorporate results into national surveys such as freshwater or lichen surveys through OPAL, RSPB and PLANTLIFE, ERIC or the BSBI new flora of NE England.

Ecological Techniques

We will discuss with you which sampling techniques you would like your students to experience during their visit.

We can offer a wide range of possibilities including:

  • quadrats and species area curves
  • % cover and DAFOR as measures of abundance
  • random sampling and transects of various sorts
  • freshwater invertebrate sampling and taxonomy
  • flow rates and discharge calculations
  • soil analyses including water, humus and pH
  • peat core study
  • abiotic factors including light intensity, wind speed, relative humidity and temperature
  • Squirrel population estimation, cone transects, mark-recapture, camera traps

Interpretation & Statistical Techniques

Different exam boards emphasise different analytical techniques. Your preference of habitat and data collection will be guided by the statistical tests and interpretation needed, such as:

  • kite diagrams
  • Simpsonís diversity index
  • Lincoln index
  • standard deviation / T-test
  • Chi2
  • Spearman Rank Correlation
  • and others as appropriate