Liam: South Downs and Species Essay

Submitted By donal008
Words: 1937
Pages: 8

A2 Geography fieldwork investigation - Ecosystems
During this piece of fieldwork I wish to investigate the link and change in species diversity and the altitude of the land that the species are found. I will use methods learnt in the past 2 years of geography to conduct my own tests and methods for the investigation. The area that I will be conducting my investigation is the South Downs national park which is located in the south eastern corner of the UK about 40 miles south of London. The south downs national park is a large area and I will be conducting most of my tests around jack and Jill windmills and the ditching beacon, as well as wolstonbury hill and some another location west of clayton located in the central eastern part of the national park about 10 miles from the major city in the area, Brighton.
The South Down’s national park was formed an estimated 60 million years ago during the cretaceous period within a shallow sea that extended across most of northern Europe at the time. The thick deposit of chalk was formed when microscopic skeletons of plankton which layered on top of each other, hence the colour. Chalk is a very alkaline substance so ericaceous plants cannot grow there, so much of the South Downs has very few exotic colourful plants. However plants grow on chalk because clay is often found in or near chalk deposits, which had high levels of minerals which accelerate plant growth and are essential for life.
The South Downs is a great place to conduct this investigation because for the past 6000 years it has been farmed for livestock. Grazing keeps the grass short and the soil good, allowing many plants to thrive rather than just a few stronger species. This is ideal because it will be much easier to see a clear drop or increase in the number of species at certain altitudes. However due to the introduction of pesticides the number of wildflowers has decreased due to the pesticides killing them off, which will make the difference harder to spot.
The sites that I chose to conduct my investigation are justified by the fact that they are very close to where I live, and would not cost much in transport. They are also areas of the downs that have few fence lines, which means we were able to collect our results quickly without having our path blocked. However our sites were heavily used by the public, creating a clearing for a path and large areas trodden down by hikers, restricting the weaker plants from developing on the surface.
The theory that my investigation will be based upon is the thought that as you increase in altitude, the quantity of different plants will decrease. As you climb in altitude the weather will change, becoming more severe. At higher altitude there is a larger quantity of rain, which will increase surface runoff, washing off the surface nutrients, and decreasing the depth of the soil, thus not allowing the more complex, larger plants to develop to their full potential. This creates a smaller quantity of plants, as only the tougher plants will be able to thrive, and will end up dominating the surface of the hill. Also as you increase in altitude, the gradient of the surface will be higher than at the base of the hill; this again provides a smaller soil layer as much of it will run off the surface.


I conducted my investigation on the south downs in a small group as previously stated, this was useful as not only could we get our results quicker, but we could also get more people’s opinions on the results gathered; for instance we could judge whether or not two plants we the same or different species. We started the investigation by standing at the base of the hill, where one person would start walking up the hill, holding the end of a tape measure and being stopped when it reaches 10m. We did this at 10m intervals because it was not too time consuming to conduct the investigation at a smaller…