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Wildlife
&
IT Solutions

Take a Closer Look at Wildlife Habitats in Britain

This course is intended to provide naturalists at all levels of expertise with a chance to broaden their knowledge of a wide variety of species and groups in the context of their habitat. Each week a different a different habitat will be covered. This will include all the major UK habitats, but with special reference to Norfolk.  Species identification will be just one skill covered, but more importantly we will discuss their role in each of the ecosystems covered.  By the end of the course a large number of ecological principles will have been covered and you will be amazed at how much good biology you have been drip-fed!

The course detail will be fleshed out nearer the start, as will the links and quizzes.

Course Unit and Content Useful links and Quizzes
1) Introduction to ecological principles
  • Biosphere, Biomes, Ecosystems, Habitats
  • Food Chains/Webs, Energy flow and Nutrient Cycling, Decomposers
  • Abiotic components of British Ecosystems, Climate topography soil, soils and geology of Norfolk
  • History of Britain's vegetation and the impact of Man Colonization, succession and climax communities. Implications for conservation
  • Review of major habitat types to be covered
  • Living Landscapes

Find out about Living Landscapes and the Wildlife Trusts

An article about Pollen analysis from Buckenham Mere

DEFRA's take on Ecosystems

Find out what kids need to know about ecosystems for GCSE

A South African School Site which covers a lot of Ecology at a suitable level

The Field Studies Council's website has a lot of material relevant to all the units in this course

Try a Quiz on some of the some of the topics in this unit.

2) If you go down to the woods today….

  • The Wildwood
  • Woodland Structure
  • Woodland Management Systems and their impact on wildlife
  • Woodland in Norfolk
  • Trees and Shrubs
  • Plants of the field layer
  • Woodland birds
  • Mammals
  • Insects their importance and significance

Look at the Woodland Trust's website for a very good review of ancient woodland and what conservation they are involved in

The Forestry Commission's Woodland Inventory gives you access to details of all woodland in the UK.

Read any books or articles by Oliver Rackham. There are some on the booklist.

A very good website with silhouettes of British trees

Try a Quiz on this topic

3) Sand, Shingle and Mud.

  • Sand Dunes
    • Dunes in UK and Norfolk
    • Sand Dune Succession
      • Pioneers in Embryo Dunes
      • Fore Dunes
      • Marram and the Yellow Dune
      • Grey Dune
      • Dune Slacks
    • Key Animal species
  • Shingle Beach
  • Muddy Shores
    • Invertebrates
    • Birds, incl. adaptations of waders
    • Saltmarsh Succession
    • Reclamation, Grazing Marshes

An article on Sand Dune Distribution in the UK

Joint Nature Conservation Committee designation of the North Norfolk Coast SAC

A site with simplified deatils of Sand Dune Succession

Download an excellent presentation and quiz on Sand Dune Succession from the Macaulay Institute

Field Studies Council' material on Saltmarsh Succession

Some detailed stuff from the JNCC, probabably all you may need to know about saltmarshes

Try the quiz on this unit.

4) The Grasslands

  • Grassland Traditions
    • Pasture
    • Meadows
    • Modern Grassland
    • Other Grassland Oases
  • Chalk and Limestone Grassland
    • What is chalk and limestone?
    • Chemical Significance
    • Species common to this type of grassland
    • Species of the chalk
    • The Jurassic Limestones
    • Breckland Calcareous Grasslands
  • Wet grassland
    • Hay Meadows
    • Grazing Marshes
  • Acidic Grasslands
  • Conservation Grazing

 

Find out about Haymaking here

More on Hay Meadows

British Lowland Hay Meadows

BBC Nature pages on Calcareous Grassland

Buglife's pages on the value and management of chalk grassland especially for invertebrates

The Natural History Museum's page

Natural England's manual on Grassland Management (downloadable pdf)

JNCC's pages on Lowland Grasslands

A site covering British calcareous grasslands in some useful detail including historical aspects

A mulichoice and short answer quiz on this unit

A grassland species picture quiz

5) Rocky Shore

  • Concept of Zonation due to influence of tide
  • Cliff top community
    • Plants
    • Birds
  • Undercliff and Cliff
  • Exposed and Sheltered Shores
  • Rocky shore species
    • Seaweed - adaptations and life cycle
    • Intertidal invertebrates
    • Vertebrates
      • Duck
      • Seals
  • Some cliff-nesting seabirds

The Field Studies Council's site on Rocky Shores has plenty of useful information

Download JNCC details of Cliff habitat

British Seaweeed Guide from the Natural History Museum

Identify British Seals

Check the Invertebrate Unit on my webpages for my Natural History and Biology Course for details of invertebrate groups

MarLIN is a very useful site to find out about Marine species - try it to find out more about the common periwinkle. Try it for any species

See what you can make of the Quiz for this topic

 

6) Heaths

  • Heathland creation from Wildwood
  • Heathland Distribution in UK
  • Heaths in Norfolk ancl Breckland
  • Problems of Heathland and Conservation Solutions
    • Key Heathland Plants -Gorses and Heathers and their adaptations
    • Specialist Birds of Heathlands
    • Heathland Invertebrates
    • Grasshoppers and Crickets
    • Minataur and Tiger Beetles
    • Heath Butterflies
    • Reptiles
  • Boggy Wet Heath
    • Key plants incl Insectiverous
    • Insects including Glow Worms, Dragon- and Damselflies
    • Orchids

 

A very good site which covers a lot of the areas we dsicussed in this unit

The story of heaths in Wales from the Countryside Council of Wales Site

The RSPB has a very informative site about their Dorset Heathland Project

The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Society site about Adders

The British Herpetological Society has a lot of information about Heathland Reptiles and a good links page

Find out about Sundews from the BBC

Find out about Dartford Warblers and Climate change

This units's Quiz has both picture and text questions - enjoy!

7) Pine Forests, Mountain and Moorland

  • Caledonian Pine Forest - Habitats and Key Species
  • Uplands
    • Moorland and Blanket Bog
    • The Carboniferous Limestone Areas
    • Arctic Alpine
      • Scotland
      • Teesdale

Find out about the Caledonian Pine Forest at Scottish Natural Heritage as well as they key mountain areas and mountain plants

Visit the Forestry Commissions' pages on the Caledonian Pine Forest and explore the links given there

Find out about fabulous Ben Lawers NNR here

The Angus Glens - Clova and Doll are really good botanically and very quiet!

Natural England's page on Blanket Bog, plus useful links to English areas

The Peak District's BAP page has a lot of useful information about our nearest upland area

Find out about the Craven Limestone area's wildlife (Yorkshire Dales) at these JNCC pages

Teesdale NNR pages at Natural England

8) Wetlands

  • Problems faced in wetlands
    • Drainage,
    • Silting,
    • Eutrophication and algal blooms - solutions
    • Succession to woodland and conservation measures to stop it.
  • Upland Rivers
  • Lowland Rivers, especially Norfolk
  • Ponds and Lakes
  • Gravel Pits
  • Broads
  • Breckland Meres and Pingos
  • Broads - Iconic species in the following
    • Reed and Sedge Beds
    • Broads and Rivers
    • Grazing Marshes
  • Valley Fens

UK Lowland wetland information from JNCC

Detail of Wetland Conservation issues by Natural England

Visit the Norfolk Wildlife Trust's website for information on all Norfolk wetlands

The RSPB's Norfolk pages

The Broads Authority's website - the body which looks after the Broads National Park . In particular look at the pages on Broads restoration

Natural England's pages on Norfolk - there is an office in Norwich

Test your knowledge of British Ducks with this 50 question one word ID quiz

9) The UK's Islands our own Galapagos?

  • Principles of speciation on islands the founder effect
    • Hebridean Mice, Wrens and Starlings
    • Orkney Voles
  • Early Human Settlement
  • The Henbridean Machair
  • Threats to Island species - introduced aliens
  • Islands as havens for Seabirds

 

Wikipedia seems to have a good and accurate section on Hebridean Natural History

Scottish Natural Heritage's pages on Machair

Corncrake Conservation at the RSPB

Orkney Archaeolical Society

Find out more about the Callanais Standing Stones

The Wildlife Trust of West and South Wales has some excellent pages about the Islands off the Pembrokeshire coast - Skomer and Skokholm

Natural England's pages on the Farne Islands

10) From Midnight Sun to Norfolk Winter

  • Arctic breeding birds which spend the winter in Norfolk
  • Why do they undergo the migration, food availability
  • How do we know about their travels
  • Impact of the lemming cycle
  • Variety of examples from
    • Ducks Geese and Swans
    • Waders
    • Passerines like Snow Buntings, Fieldfares and Waxwings