Ecology Practical 3 – Abundance and random sampling at Waun Las Nature Reserve, Wales


Based on our popular ecology activity ‘Measuring Abundance and Random Sampling’, these teaching resources cover the same key skills. Students learn about random sampling, diversity and different measures of abundance, before looking at close-up photographs of quadrats and using our field guide to identify them. The resources are intended to help students develop skills and plant identification techniques before going out into the field, rather than to replace fieldwork.

However, this resource also allows you to introduce the effects of different conservation techniques in managing species diversity, by contrasting different locations at Waun Las National Nature Reserve, part of the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Students will:

  • use random sampling to measure the abundance of various different species on two different areas of meadowland at Waun Las National Nature Reserve
  • explore two different measures of abundance, both density (the number of individual plants in a quadrat) and frequency (the proportion of quadrats each species occurs in)
  • consider how and why the abundance of different species varies between the two sites

Online Ecology Teaching Resources
In this resource, students use the high-quality images of quadrats in two sites, accessed via the links below, and use the accompanying ID sheets to fill in the recording tables for each site. They then consider why the levels of abundance and diversity are so different between the two sites. Full teachers’ notes are available via the link on the right, together with the ID sheets and recording tables.

View Site A online

View Site B online

Both of the pieces of meadowland being sampled in this exercise are shown in aerial view. They are 5m x 5m, and tapes have been laid along two edges divided into 0.25 m intervals which are the length of one side of the quadrat being used. Squares on the site image indicate the location of the quadrats. Close ups of 10 quadrats per site are supplied as separate images. To view the close-up images, click on appropriate quadrat in the site image. Click the ‘view full-sized image’ link to be able to zoom in and out.


View source of image here.

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