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Creating a home for wildlife in the heart of Maidstone
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Education

Here you will find a selection of activities and educational resources which have been produced for the Fant Wildlife Group. Please feel free to download and use this information with your school, nature club or youth group. The Fant Wildlife Area is open to the public at all times, however if your school would like to arrange a visit please contact us. We can provide you with educational equipment including microscopes on request.


Pond Dipping

Pond Dipping Click here to download a simple step by step pond dipping guide.


A-level Projects

The Fant Wildlife Group has been working with local secondary schools to provide opportunities for scientific investigation. Below you will find a selection of projects undertaken by A-level students at St. Simon Stock School, Maidstone.

The student's investigations have helped us to improve the way we manage the Fant Wildlife Area and therefore we would like to thank the students for sharing their work and for the help and advice of the staff at St. Simon Stock School, especially Steve Thompson.


Investigating the relationship between abiotic factors and species richness at the Fant Wildlife Area

by Joe Corcoran

Click here to download the full report

Abstract

This investigation examines the following hypothesis: ‘The nettle is the dominant species of flora in Fant Wildlife Park (Grid reference Sheet 188 TQ 745547) excluding other species; therefore as the percentage cover of nettles increase the species richness should fall. It is expected that several abiotic factors will influence the growth of nettles and therefore species richness.’

The abiotic data to be collected and analyzed from two transects included light intensity, soil temperature and altitude. Soil samples were also taken from the second transect and tested for moisture content and pH. The transect method aimed to discover patterns in some abiotic factors such as altitude, water content and light which may underlie distribution of flora.

It was found that species richness can be inhibited by abiotic factors that make the local position unsuitable for successful growth. In areas where Urtica dioica dominates the species richness decreases as other species can no longer compete with the nettles for resources.

There was little correlation between nettle cover, species richness, altitude, light intensity or soil water content when the survey was carried out.

The key abiotic factor found to affect the percentage cover of nettles in this investigation was soil temperature, with a 0.734 Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient between the two variables (showing a significant correlation where P<0.05). This is thought to be due to the fact that an increase in soil temperature will cause an increase in the metabolic activities of the nettle. This includes the catabolism of the starch in their rhizomes into substrates for respiration and the new growth it drives. This store of nutrients thus provides a natural advantage over the competition that is accentuated by an increase in temperature. Rising soil temperature adds to the effect of light intensity in driving photosynthetic production of hardy generalists like U. dioica.


Species richness and the effects of trampling and other management in Fant Wildlife Area

By Lewis Hall

Click here to download the full report

Abstract

The primary aim was to investigate what types of management are most effective for increasing species richness, with particular reference to the Fant Wildlife Area. OS Sheet 188 TQ745547.

Transects were taken across a path and random quadrat samples were taken from points within the FWA and % cover of what was found inside them was analysed.

There has to be balance between grazing, mowing and trampling in order for more species to thrive; too much or too little of each and only certain species will survive. There is significant decrease in nettle cover between 1-1.5 meters from the path. (Mann Whitney U test P is less than 0.05). 2 years of mowing is not an effective way of increasing species richness. Mowing between 7-9 years and combined with grazing is a good way of reducing nettle dominance and increasing the amount of species. (Mann Whitney U test P is less than 0.05).

Many samples were taken to give a reasonable picture. However there are some actions that could be taken to improve the experiment even such as carrying out the procedure on different paths or in different seasons. This would show if species richness is increased with the same management but in a different season/area.


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