All Things Ecosystems: Year 11 Biology Fieldwork

Here at Santa Maria College, we place a heavy emphasis on fieldwork. Through it, students gain first-hand, practical experiences which support and reinforce concepts explored in the classroom.

Last week, our Year 11 Biology students headed for the Perth Hills to complete some fieldwork as part of their study of ecosystems! 

The excursion took place at the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) Centre, Nearer to Nature.

Under the guidance of highly experienced DPAW educational facilitators, fieldwork was carried out to sample and collect information on the biotic and abiotic features of two different ecosystems: the Northern Jarrah Forrest and Swan River Estuary.

Students employed a variety of techniques including quadrats, transects, dip netting, reading of photographs taken by sensor cameras, and the analysis of owl pellets, to gather data about an ecosystem. The fieldwork the girls undertook contributed to DPAW’s Marsupial Monitoring Program.

Students put into practice the Three Rs of animal ethics and experienced first-hand the beauty of Western Australian native wildlife. This contributes to their overall appreciation for effective conservation practices, to protect our Western Australia flora and fauna for future generations.

We asked some of the Year 11 Biology students what they learned through their fieldwork:

I found the fieldwork excursion was really interesting and exciting, and I learned many new things, such as the plant species found in the Jarrah Forest and their adaptations, the Swan River’s biodiversity, different birds, and owl pellets, how to collect data using the quadrat method, and how invasive species are controlled using the 1080 toxin. Charlize Kazmer

It was absolutely amazing! The experience was eye-opening as we learned about the many native species of flora and fauna within the Jarrah Forest. Being able to observe and hold some of our wild native raptors and predatory birds was also a great experience. Monique Geiles

I really enjoyed working with Bec, one of the DPAW educational facilitators, as I found her super insightful. This experience definitely makes me think of a future working with DPAW, or even volunteering to do biological conservation in some way! Rebecca Barker.

After the excursion, students had an in-class validation on the fieldwork skills gained, followed by a research task around a conservation strategy.

Thank you to College Science teacher, Joanne Priest, for organising such an insightful and fascinating field trip for our Year 11 Biology students. It sounds like the girls took away a great amount of knowledge and understanding from the excursion. 

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