In Field Study Skills students will have the fantastic opportunity to learn practical skills on the Whipsnade Zoo’s very own Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  Home to rare plants species, students will demonstrate both random and systematic sampling techniques.

Using keys and digital equipment, students will record the presence/absence of a species, calculate percentage cover for each species and record abiotic factors.

Results will be recorded into specially adapted datasheets which can be further analysed back in school/college using ZSL resources.

Age: Post 16 Duration: 3 hours Capacity: 35 students Outdoor workshop

Intended Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  • Investigate the distribution and abundance of organisms using both quadrats and transects
  • Use digital equipment to measure abiotic factors
  • Compare management techniques on two different chalk grassland habitats
  • Calculate Simpsons Diversity Index

For this session:

Before your visit

  • Read the Field Study Skills teacher information pack before your visit to familiarise yourself with the activities your students will be participating in on the day. All students should have the data packs to bring with them on the day.

AQA Biology A Level
3.4 Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms 3.4.6 Biodiversity within a community
  • Biodiversity can relate to a range of habitats, from a small local habitat to the Earth.
  • Species richness is a measure of the number of different species in a community.
  • An index of diversity describes the relationship between the number of species in a community and the number of individuals in each species.
  • Calculation of an index of diversity (d) from the formula d = (N (N − 1))/SUM(n (n − 1)) where N = total number of organisms of all species and n = total number of organisms of each species.
  • Farming techniques reduce biodiversity. The balance between conservation and farming.
3.7 Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems 3.7.4 Populations in ecosystems
  • The size of a population can be estimated using:
    • randomly placed quadrats, or quadrats along a belt transect, for slow-moving or non-motile organisms
Required practical 12: Investigation into the effect of a named environmental factor on the distribution of a given species.
Pearson Edexcel A Level Biology A (Salters-Nuffield)
Topic 4: Biodiversity and Natural Resources
  • 4.2
    • i) Understand the terms biodiversity and endemism.
    • iii) how biodiversity can be compared in different habitats using a formula to calculate an index of diversity (D): D = (N(N-1))/( Σn(n-1))
  • 4.3 Understand the concept of niche and be able to discuss examples of adaptation of organisms to their environment (behavioural, physiological and anatomical).
Topic 5: On the Wild Side
  • 5.1 Understand the terms ecosystem, community, population and habitat.
  • 5.2 Understand that the numbers and distribution of organisms in a habitat are controlled by biotic and abiotic factors
CORE PRACTICAL 10: Be able to carry out a study on the ecology of a habitat, including using quadrats and transects to determine distribution and abundance of organisms, and measuring abiotic factors appropriate to the habitat.
Pearson Edexcel A Level Biology B
Topic 3: Classification and Biodiversity 3.3 Biodiversity
  • Know that biodiversity can be assessed at different scales:
    • within a habitat at the species level using a formula to calculate an index of diversity: D = (N(N-1))/( Σn(n-1))
Topic 10: Ecosystems 10.1 The nature of ecosystems
  • i) Understand what is meant by the term ecosystem and that they range in size
10.3 Changes in ecosystems
  • ii) Understand the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on population size
CORE PRACTICAL 16: Investigate the effect of one abiotic factor on the distribution or morphology of one species taking into account the safe and ethical use of organisms.
OCR A Level Biology A
Module 4: Biodiversity, evolution and disease 4.2 Biodiversity 4.2.1 Biodiversity
  • (b)
    • (i) how sampling is used in measuring the biodiversity of a habitat and the importance of sampling
    • (ii) practical investigations collecting random and non-random samples in the field
  • (c) how to measure species richness and species evenness in a habitat
  • (d) the use and interpretation of Simpson’s Index of Diversity (D) to calculate the biodiversity of a habitat


OCR A Level Biology B
Module 4: Energy, reproduction and populations 4.3 Photosynthesis, food production and populations
  • (m)
    • (ii) practical investigations of differences in biodiversity using techniques such as random and systematic sampling.


Cambridge International AS & A Level Biology
18 Biodiversity, classification and conservation 18.1 Biodiversity Biodiversity is much more than a list of all the species in a particular area
  • a) define the terms species, ecosystem and niche
  • c) explain the importance of random sampling in determining the biodiversity of an area
  • d) use suitable methods, such as frame quadrats, line transects, belt transects and mark-release-recapture, to assess the distribution and abundance of organisms in a local area
  • f) use Simpson’s Index of Diversity (D) to calculate the biodiversity of a habitat