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Research and rational

While taking an early morning jog during the late days of


November I realised that the sizes of the dandelion leaves
varied from one area to another. And after observing the
lengths of grass which seemed to be different it occurred to me
whether the length of the grass could have a direct impact on
the width of the leaves of a dandelion. It appeared to be that
the width of the dandelion leaves were noticeably larger in the
parts of the field where the grass had been mown. This took me
by great fascination with relation to how these observations
dismissed my previous ideas that leaves in general have a
larger surface area when left to thrive in their original state
rather than to be occasionally trimmed. After my curiosity I
grew more attached to discovering the affects both mown and
un-mown grass has on the width of dandelion leaves. Ecological
succextion is the worst feeling a man could have or even
merely experi
Ecological succession
Because of the different stages of growth in which all the
neighbouring plants to the dandelion leaves (including the
dandelion leaves) were at this made me ponder on the nature
of ecological succession. Ecological succession is the gradual
process by which ecosystems change and develop over time [1]
causing habitats to be at constant development. They change
in response to external factors, such as changing climates or as
a result of change in the internal factors such as dead organic
matter [2].

1. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/successn/intro.htm
2. Third edition: Biological Science 1 organisms, energy and environment
D. J. Taylor, N. P. O. Green, G. W. Stout, edited by R. Soper Pg. 317
3. http://intothegardenstrawberries.weebly.com/ecological-succession.html
4. http://www3.syngenta.com/country/uk/en/about/learningzone/KS345/biology/Pages/Photosynthesis_in_Action.aspx
Figure
1 diagram summary displaying characteristic vegetation
5. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/what_method.htm

Succession occurs due to the changes of conditions which take


place in the environment. A change in surroundings of a habitat
causes all the different species to adapt to a high level of
competition in order to thrive under a certain set of conditions which if are changed - are replaced by a set of better adapted
species.
Pioneer species
Pioneer species are species which are at a higher advantage of
developing to their highest potentials in conditions of bear
ground, due to the fact that there is little competition for space
and resources. The reason why pioneer species such as
dandelions are the early colonizers of bear soil is because of
the efficiency of their seeds to be dispersed to diverse habitats
by wind action. Dandelions are one of the most common
pioneer species in the UK which makes it easier for them to
grow in areas with little completion of other species growing.
Because of this, dandelion s has better growing conditions in
the areas of the field with little completion, which in my
investigation represents the grass. This clarifies my
observations of the increase in the leaf width in dandelions in
1. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/successn/intro.htm
2. Third edition: Biological Science 1 organisms, energy and environment
D. J. Taylor, N. P. O. Green, G. W. Stout, edited by R. Soper Pg. 317
3. http://intothegardenstrawberries.weebly.com/ecological-succession.html
4. http://www3.syngenta.com/country/uk/en/about/learningzone/KS345/biology/Pages/Photosynthesis_in_Action.aspx
5. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/what_method.htm

the mown grass areas. Since some land which is not yet
colonised has very few nutrients due to the poor quality of the
lands soil, pioneer species such as dandelions often have
adaptations such as long roots or long nodes which help them
to take advantage of their habitat by maximising their abilities
to absorb the highest level of minerals for their best growth. I
was also fascinated by the fact that while dandelion plants
have the adaptations of a pioneer species on bear land, they
also have the ability to remain as a species in the long-term of
vegetation.

Bare ground is viewed suitable for the colonisation of pioneer


species because of the little competition for light, space,
nutrients and water. However there are also many
disadvantages for the growing species in spaces of bare
ground. The soil in a land of bare ground is most likely to be
thin because of its easiness to absorb and reflect heat more
than land covered in vegetation, making the conditions of the
soil drier with little or no moisture. The environment would also
be drier because of the lack of plant coverage which would
otherwise allow moisture to be held above ground also meaning
that there is little humus to hold the moisture in the soil. Hence,
with no plant converge there is very low nutrient levels in the
soil for the plants to grow.
The dandelion leaves are more likely to be wider in the areas
with little grass because of there will be less competition for
light in order for the plant to photosynthesise. Unlike the areas
of field where the dandelions are overshadowed by the tall
1. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/successn/intro.htm
2. Third edition: Biological Science 1 organisms, energy and environment
D. J. Taylor, N. P. O. Green, G. W. Stout, edited by R. Soper Pg. 317
3. http://intothegardenstrawberries.weebly.com/ecological-succession.html
4. http://www3.syngenta.com/country/uk/en/about/learningzone/KS345/biology/Pages/Photosynthesis_in_Action.aspx
5. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/what_method.htm

grass, making it more difficult for them to have enough light


from the sun for photosynthesis which is the source from which
most plants are able to get enough energy for processes such
as respiration.

Planning
Figure
2 diagram
showing correlation
the processbetween
of
Hypothesis
There
is a significant
the
photosynthesis
with
an equation
depth
of soil in both
trampled
and non-trampled areas and the
leaf width of a dandelion.

For this study I have decided to use random sampling within


two transects formed by two tape measures each one
measuring 10cm, repeating the method in two different areas.
The first transect will be placed near the main pathway used by
pedestrians, which is commonly trampled on (by the pathway
users), the second transect will be placed in an area of land far
from the pathway, closer to a set oak trees where pedestrians
are less likely to tread. I have chosen these two areas because
of the distinct pattern visible with regards to the size of
dandelion leaves; the leaves seemed to be larger nearer to the
oak trees where there was a less pedestrians trampling on the
soil. Collecting data from both the trampled and non-trampled
areas will provide me with sufficient data for measuring my
independent variable (soil depth) and its affect on the width of
dandelion leaves. Random sampling is typically used for
1. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/successn/intro.htm
2. Third edition: Biological Science 1 organisms, energy and environment
D. J. Taylor, N. P. O. Green, G. W. Stout, edited by R. Soper Pg. 317
3. http://intothegardenstrawberries.weebly.com/ecological-succession.html
4. http://www3.syngenta.com/country/uk/en/about/learningzone/KS345/biology/Pages/Photosynthesis_in_Action.aspx
5. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/what_method.htm

habitats which are consistent which is suitable in my


investigation for collecting data from two different areas within
the same habitat - trampled and non-trampled and measuring
the difference , if any, in the depth of soil. Using data from
random sampling is a better reflection of the dandelion leaf
width on both the sites I have chosen because the samples
potentially cover the whole area of each section and not just a
narrow band across the middle, as in the belt transect [5].
Using random sampling will provide me with valid quantitative
data for calculating the standard deviation, and repeating the
random sampling process twice in each area of the woodland
ensures the reliability of my results. To measure the soil depth I
will use a soil pin, roughly 30cm in length, and as for measuring
the width of the dandelion leaves I will be using a regular ruler
no longer than 30cm. I will use a scientific calculator for
generating a set of random numbers that will be used as my
coordinates; these coordinates will indicate the location for
placing the 0.25m square quadrat.
Equipment list

2x 10 meter tape measure

1x 10.25msquare quadrat

1x 30cm soil pin

1x 30cm ruler

1x digital soil thermometer

1x calculator
Method

1. Locate a suitable place for conducting the experiment. Measure


the suitability of the sites by ensuring that the place being
investigated as trampled has the tape measures emanating
from the main pathway, and that the area being investigated
under non-trampled is a reasonably good distance away from
1. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/successn/intro.htm
2. Third edition: Biological Science 1 organisms, energy and environment
D. J. Taylor, N. P. O. Green, G. W. Stout, edited by R. Soper Pg. 317
3. http://intothegardenstrawberries.weebly.com/ecological-succession.html
4. http://www3.syngenta.com/country/uk/en/about/learningzone/KS345/biology/Pages/Photosynthesis_in_Action.aspx
5. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/what_method.htm

the pathway have the transects emanating from the set of


oak trees. Also ensure that both the sites being investigated
contain a sufficient abundance of dandelion leaves for
measuring to have enough data collected.

Trampled
2. Place both the 10 meter tape measures, one horizontally and
one vertically, each emanating from the pedestrian pathway
forming a right angle.
3. Using the scientific calculator begin by generating the random
numbers - shift, Ran# button, (=) that will be used as
coordinates then place the 0.25msquare quadrat where the
coordinates show.
4. Record the abundance of the dandelion leaves within the
quadrat; because there are 25 squares within the frame of the
quadrat
5. Pick the dandelion leaf with the largest width measurement and
record this data down.
6. At each coordinate where the quadrat is placed take eight
readings of the soil depth by penetrating the surface of the soil
with the tip of the soil pin until its no longer possible for the pin
to move any deeper. The readings must all be in different
squares of the 25squares within the quadrat frame. After
collecting eight different soil depths from one quadrat calculate
a mean (total sum of soil depth readings divided by no. Of
readings).
7. Use a thermometer to take readings of the soil temperature
once in each quadrat, and to ensure that the results are
reliable, it is important that the temperature measurements are
taken the same way in each quadrat; because of this the
thermometer must be placed in the centre square of each
quadrat.
8.

1. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/successn/intro.htm
2. Third edition: Biological Science 1 organisms, energy and environment
D. J. Taylor, N. P. O. Green, G. W. Stout, edited by R. Soper Pg. 317
3. http://intothegardenstrawberries.weebly.com/ecological-succession.html
4. http://www3.syngenta.com/country/uk/en/about/learningzone/KS345/biology/Pages/Photosynthesis_in_Action.aspx
5. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/what_method.htm

1. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/successn/intro.htm
2. Third edition: Biological Science 1 organisms, energy and environment
D. J. Taylor, N. P. O. Green, G. W. Stout, edited by R. Soper Pg. 317
3. http://intothegardenstrawberries.weebly.com/ecological-succession.html
4. http://www3.syngenta.com/country/uk/en/about/learningzone/KS345/biology/Pages/Photosynthesis_in_Action.aspx
5. http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/what_method.htm