In May, 120 Second Year Life Sciences students will embark upon a residential field trip to Boggle Hole as part of their ecology unit.
The trip allows students to consolidate the knowledge and skills they have acquired during the first two years of their degree and apply these to answering questions relevant to ecology.
Students will assess how biodiversity relates to the physical environment and how competition for resources can limit population growth. A key feature of the trip is that students are given the opportunity to design their own studies in order to test hypotheses about the distribution, abundance and behaviour of organisms.
Previous student projects have examined the effect of shell size on hermit crab manoeuvrability, circadian rhythms and barnacle activity, predator-prey relationships and the habitat preferences of bats.
Project leader Paul Eady says: “Getting students away from their normal place of study and into a beautiful, biologically rich environment is a great way to inspire and engage students. They really enjoy developing their own ideas.
“The sequence of developing a hypothesis, designing and performing experiments and collecting data to evaluate the hypothesis lies at the heart of the Life Sciences. Thus, in completing their projects and reflecting on the process, students will learn a great deal about the scientific method that can be applied to their honours projects when they return after the summer break.”