Forest Studies (Years 11-12)

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Overview

Forest Studies is a whole day program where teachers can elect to compare either (i) a wet and dry sclerophyll forest or (ii) natural vs human impacted sites. The Forest Studies program assists students to explain how environmental factors limit the distribution and abundance of species in an ecosystem, and how data can be used to evaluate the condition of ecosystems.

The program begins with a free pre-visit, from Toohey Forest staff, to your school to engage the students in ecological sampling and analytical techniques prior to the excursion. During the day students work in small groups to establish two quadrats within designated boundaries. Students utilise Vernier data loggers, soil pH kits, rangefinders, spherical densitometers etc. to collect a range of abiotic data. Plant diversity and abundance data is used to calculate a quantitative value to describe species richness, evenness and the health of an ecosystem (i.e. Simpson’s Diversity Index).

The program concludes with students applying their new primary data, secondary data, knowledge and skills to outline the arguments for and against a hypothetical development scenario in Toohey Forest.

Forest Studies has been assessed as medium risk. A Curriculum Activity Risk Assessment is available on request. A student field booklet is provided upon confirmation of your booking.

Curriculum Intent

Biology

Unit 3: Biodiversity and the interconnectedness of life
Topic 1: Describing biodiversity Topic 2: Ecosystem dynamics Learning Goals

  • recognise that biodiversity includes the diversity of species and ecosystems.
  • determine the diversity of plant species in a wet and dry sclerophyll forest ecosystem using Simpson’s Diversity Index as a measure of species richness and evenness (relative species abundance) and a Forest Condition Score as a measure of forest health.
  • use a variety of appropriate technologies, such as Vernier data loggers, soil pH testing kits, inclinometers to measure canopy height and other equipment to measure abiotic factors in the field.
  • analyse species diversity indices, forest condition scores and abiotic data (soil pH, air temperature, soil temperature, soil moisture, humidity and light intensity) to compare ecosystems across spatial and temporal scales.
  • explain how environmental factors limit the distribution and abundance of species in an ecosystem.
  • evaluate the condition of forest ecosystems using data collected from the field.
  • justify decisions on the development of a student accommodation complex at one of two forest sites based on data collected from the field.

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