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Biology, Undergraduate, 3rd Year Field Trip, Queen Mary, University of London

  1. Read the task in Box 1.
  2. Download each of the pdfs and read them. Keep these open so you can refer to them as you watch the video.
  3. Watch the video.

Step 1

The Task

Field Trip

As part of their 3rd year Freshwater Biology module 2010, students go on a field trip. As part of their coursework they were asked to report back at the end of each of three days. The examples here are from the first day excursion to three different sites along a river.  Before going out they were briefed on the purpose of the day and how coursework should be structured.  On returning to the field centre, groups of students were asked to compile the data collected on a whiteboard so that at the end of the evening the whole class could have access to everybody’s data.

The aim of the activity was to help students develop observation, data analysis, and critical skills.  A good individual report would have a short introduction (3-5 lines), a detailed material and methods section, a results section with 1-2 graphs/tables adequately labelled and referred to, and a short discussion of the results. It would be no longer than 2 A4 pages.

Step 2


Investigating the river Frome


The river Frome is a large chalk river in Dorset. A ‘longitudinal transect’ was conducted along the river to examine the variation in the distribution of macroinvertebrates along the river and to consider the effects of the physical characteristics of the catchment area and the river itself. The morphology of the sites and the local energy sources are expected to impact the distribution and the diversity of the taxa found at each site.

Materials and methods

The samples were obtained by taking a thirty second kick sample using a 500µm pond net. Sample where then sorted and on site the abundance of each taxa of macroinvertebrate were recorded.  Six samples were taken (by six different groups) at each site and three sites were sampled. The sites were situated at three points along the river. Site 1 was the furthest upstream and the sample was taken from the riffle area. This site showed a large amount of riparian cover with very little sunlight penetrated the canopy. The river was shallow and slow flowing with vegetation collecting on the riffles. Site 2 was a deeper pool site with a stronger but slower flow compared to the 1st site. Site 2 had less riparian cover however Runuculus was abundant.

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Sampling of freshwater invertebrates in three different locations in Dorset, UK

Freshwater is no longer readily available in comparison to its net consumption; however, it is of both economical and ecological important. Freshwater species are heavily used as environmental indicators and thus used by environmental agencies. Understanding, abundance and distribution is therefore critical. This study aims to qualitatively sample various freshwater sites and determine abundance differences and species preference between sites of freshwater marcoinvertebrates 

Three sites, varying in water speed, canopy and catchment were sampled using the same protocol. After arriving at site, an inspection of the surround location was conducted taking notes of any features observed, including a rough water speed, canopy, surround flora, catchment type and water depth. Water depth and speed increased from site one > site two > site three. Sampling at site was taken from a riffle with a dense covered canopy whilst sites two and three were pools with an open canopy. Particle sizes also increased from site one > site two > site three. Surrounding flora varied between sites; site one included Alder trees whilst site two included elderberry bushes. Site one had accumulation of debris and leaf litter in the stream, whilst sites two and three contained groups of macrophyton; these were not included during sampling. 

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Distribution of Macroinvertebrates in a Stream: Qualitative Assessment


Insects are the most diverse group within the macroinvertebrates in freshwater biology. The fundamental link between invertebrate species composition and habitat is studied in this field work. The objectives of this study are to qualitatively sample and identify stream macroinvertebrates, collecting samples using a longitudinal transect at differing habitat sites along the chalk stream, River Frome. Using these results a distribution pattern of the macroinvertebrate assemblage can be studied. Hypothesis: there is a significant relationship between the invertebrate assemblage and the differing habitat. Site 1 consisted of a low water level with evidence of recent flooding due to its muddy banks. The lack of algae and pond weed can be attributed to the dense riparian cover. The sediment composed of mostly sand with occasional large pebbles. Site 2 was deeper, steeper and covered by more trees than site 1 with median riparian cover, dense with macrophytes. The sediment is comprised of medium-large sized pebbles with a medium to steady water flow. Site 3 was exposed with flat surroundings, differing to the other sites by having minimal riparian cover. The sediment consisted of pebbles and randy areas with slow water flow.

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Step 3

Step 4

Download the transcript for this video.

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