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Harrow International School, Year 13

9-12 December 2017

Exploring Marine Ecosystems in Ranong

Aim: Explore Marine ecosystems in Ranong to improve knowledge of data collection methods and investigation planning

Hypothesis: Students will practice new data collection techniques and gain an appreciation and understanding of the importance of marine ecosystem and the biotic and abiotic factors affecting them.

Method: Students from Harrow International School and Staff from the Barge Program spent four days in Ranong carrying out investigations on four marine ecosystems – Mangroves, Rocky Shore, Seagrass Beds and Estuaries.

Population sampling techniques used included:

1. Stratified sampling of rocky shore using belt transects and gridded quadrats to assess biodiversity variations along an environmental gradient from a dry area to a wet area of the shore.

2. Measurement of limpet shells to investigate morphological differences in aperture width and apex height between individuals on exposed and sheltered shorelines.

3. Bioblitz to record plant and animal species data for a seagrass bed via observation of exposed seagrass beds at low tide.

4. Pitfall trapping to investigate invertebrate species present inhabiting a sandy beach.

5. Mark-release-recapture of Marsh crabs to estimate population size in a Mangrove habitat.

6. Investigating abiotic factors along an environmental gradient in an estuary from fresh to saltwater.

7. Investigating abiotic influences and species diversity in a mangrove forest.

Results: Simpson’s Index of Biodiversity indicated a significant difference in species distribution along the environmental gradient of a rocky shore habitat. Student T Test indicated a significant difference in the limpet morphology from and exposed and a sheltered shore. A seagrass Bioblitz recorded 3 different species of seagrass, 1 algae species, 1 fish species, 2 cuttlefish and several crustaceans and molluscs species inhabiting the seagrass beds. Our pitfall traps collected a number of different crustacean species as well as a representative from the Centipede family. Lincoln’s index revealed the estimated population of Marsh crabs inhabiting the mangroves. Pearsons coefficient indication a significant positive correlation between distance from the estuary mouth and salinity of the water.

Observations and Conclusion: Barge staff observations support our original hypothesis
The students worked hard to learn the new data collection techniques, statistical analysis and plan various scientific investigations. Completion of the fieldwork provided a greater knowledge of the coastal ecosystems in Southern Thailand, the abiotic and biotic factors influences them and also the ecosystem services provided, including carbon storage, providing nurseries for young fish, oxygen production and spiritual wellbeing. Students seemed to particularly enjoy field work and data collection, especially the trip on the long tailed boats to the seagrass beds to investigate marine species and persisted with data collection despite adverse environmental conditions including hot weather and mangrove mud.

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