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Guide to the Field Study

a plant and animal diversity survey [exp./invest.]


  • To observe the changes and diversity within a specified area over time.
  • To identify the plants and animals within the same area and what changes they undergo during a change in season.
  • To communicate the observations and analysis in a logical and concise manner.

The Area to be observed:

You will observe an area in a place of your choosing. The location should be in an area that is not being cultivated and maintained by people. Choose an area such as the bank of a stream, or another natural area. This will be an in-depth investigation into the diversity and ecology of a place that you know. You will keep a field notebook that will be the basis for completing the report, creating the poster of your area, and your presentation. The area should be approximately 30 x 30m in size.

Things to include in your field notebook:

Describe the location and physical environment of your study area. Give details about the type of soil, slope of the land, water, direction it faces if on the side of a hill, topography, rainfall (typical, last three years, and this year), wind, and time of day.

Observe your area closely. Make a list of all of the different plants and animals you observe in the area. At this point, do not try to identify these plants by their scientific names. Use common names if you know them or give your own descriptive names.

Draw a sketch map of your area. Review your list of plants and animals and assign a code number or initial to each type of plant or animal that you have found. Use your codes and your map to show the location of each plant and animal in your area. You may want to color code your map. For animals give locations where they have been or last observed. Your map may change over time so be prepared to have more than one map. Date all maps


You should observe your area frequently at first so that you get to know all of the plants and animals that are part of your area. After you are comfortable with what is there, you may want to visit less frequently. The best results will be if you visit the area every day for about 15 minutes (first couple of visits will be longer). Make sure you note the time, date, weather (wind, clouds, fog ,rain, etc.) and any un-natural occurrence that could affect your area.

Final Report:

The final report will consist of the following:

  1. Summary of field notes and a copy of five pages of your field notes.
  2. Maps of the changes in diversity over time[initial, 1st quarter, half, 3rd quarter, final]
  3. Analysis

Questions for your Analysis:

You will use these questions as part of the analysis of your observations of the area in your Field Study. They are meant to shape and guide the discussion and conclusions so that you consider all aspects of your area.

  1. Explain what is meant by biological diversity {in your own words}.

  2. How many different types of plants and animals did you find in your survey?

  3. What factors (biotic and abiotic) influenced the variety of plants and animals you found in your area? Explain.

  4. What information can you infer from studying your plant-animal-distribution map?

  5. Discuss the interrelationships between the plants and animals of your area. Consider food chains, energy needs, and variations in plant and animal occurrence.

  6. Nature has many examples of circular patterns (e.g. seasons, carbon cycle). Identify the patterns that you observed in your area.

  7. Within your area, describe an example of how you think human beings did not act as an integral part of nature, and an example of how you think human beings have had a beneficial influence on your area.

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