Investigationg Eco-systems At Sand Dunes Essay

For our Geography coursework we will investigate the ecosystem of Murlough Sand Dunes in groups of two. Murlough Sand Dunes are situated at Dundrum Bay, County Down as seen in the map to the right.

During the Ice Age, over 10,000 years ago, a large ice sheet moved to the North West area. The ice sheet was separated by the Mourne Mountains. The weight of this ice sheet pushed down on the earth’s crush causing land and sea levels to be lowered. After the ice age, land levels began rising again when the weight of the ice sheet was reduced, and sea levels also increased due to the melting ice. At Murlough Sand Dunes the land levels rose more than sea levels and so the dunes began to gradually form.

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When we investigate at Murlough Sand Dunes we will be aiming to look at:

* Soil Variables: differences in soil pH, percent of soil moisture and percent of soil organic content between the older and younger sand dunes

* Vegetation Variables: variety of vegetation species, percent of bare ground and percent of vegetation cover between younger and older dunes

* How soil variables and vegetation variables are linked (e.g. how the growth of marram grass is affected by soil acidity)

From these aims we expect to find that soil pH is more acidic in the older dunes, while more alkaline in the younger dunes, percent of soil moisture and percent of soil organic content will be more in the older dunes but less in younger dunes. We predict that there will be less variety in vegetation species, larger percentage of bare ground and a smaller percentage of vegetation cover in the younger dunes, while we expect to find that the older dunes have a higher variety in vegetation species, smaller percentage bare ground and a higher percentage of vegetation cover. To prove these predictions we will take soil samples and record information on vegetation at four different sand dunes.

In our groups we will collect our soil samples, to investigate soil variables, we will use a soil auger, a quadrat and a polythene bag. We will place our quadrat on our groups designated area and take a soil sample from each corner of the quadrat (as shown by the diagram to the left),

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