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Harrow International School

1-4 December 2016


Year 13 Students from Harrow International School spent a soggy week exploring marine and coastal management in Thailand’s southern province of Ranong. Based at the Andaman Coastal Research Station for Development and assisted by researchers from the station and Barge staff, students were tasked with learning about new population sampling techniques whilst gaining an understanding of the importance of different coastal habitats. Activities including snorkeling through seagrass beds, wading through mangroves and sampling estuary water via the use of a long tailed boat.  Despite the rain students’ spirits were not dampened (!) as they carried out data collection and explored new sampling techniques across different ecosystems around the Research Station.

Sampling Techniques and Data Collection

Estimating Mangrove Crab population size using Mark, Release and Recapture:  Testing their mangrove wading and crab catching prowess, students completed data collection by catching and marking as many crabs as possible within the sample site before returning to the site two days later to resample and record how many marked crabs had been caught, before running a Lincoln Index Calculation to estimate population size.

Mangrove Investigation: To test students understanding of sampling techniques they were asked to come up with a question and hypothesis they could test using a line transect as their sampling method and use Spearman’s Rank Coefficient as the data analysis method.

Rocky Shore Investigation: Using quadrats and a belt transect students had to record data on biodiversity along a rocky shore gradient and use Simpson’s Index to calculate biodiversity and species richness. Data was displayed using kite diagrams to show a visual representation of percentage cover of each species found along the environmental gradient.

Estuary Water Testing:  With a long tailed boat and some high tech testing equipment (and a metal disk on a piece of rope and tape measure!) students recorded data on water salinity, turbidity temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen from the mouth of the estuary upstream into freshwater. Pearson’s Linear Coefficient was used to assess data records.

Pitfall Trapping- Design your own experiment. After trying out various sampling techniques and experiments throughout the week, the final test for students was to design and conduct their own experiment to investigate and compare insect biodiversity in a grassland and on a beach. This required students to call on ideas learned from all previous experiments to decide on the most appropriate methods and techniques to carry out their investigation.

Finishing off the week with a presentation on each of the four key ecosystems studied (Mangrove, Rocky shore, Estuary and Seagrass beds) and a discussion on the sampling techniques used, including their limitations and improvements that could be made, the class left Ranong with an appreciation of the amazing coastal ecosystems and also having gained practical experience in designing experiments,  carrying out several new scientific sampling techniques to collect data and using various methods of statistical analysis to validate their findings.

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