TPC INVESTIGATING ECOSYSTEMS
SAE 1 REPORT OF AN INVESTIGATION OF AN ECOSYSTEM
1.0 INTRODUCTION - page 3
1.1 Characteistics of the dry schlerophyll forest
2.0 TECHNIQUES AND EQUIPMENT USED - page 3
2.1 Transect and Quadrat
3.0 RESULTS - page 4
4.0 ECOLOGY OF THE SITE - page 4
5.0 GOVERNMENT CONTROLS - page 5
6.0 CONCLUSION - page 5
APPENDIX 1 - pages 7 to 9
Map showing location of the site
Map of site plan
APPENDIX 2 - pages 10 to 19
Results of data collected
APPENDIX 3 - pages 20 to 22
Copy of information obtained from local trust
APPENDIX 4 - page 23
Annotated Reference List
[By using appropriate headings in a logical way the student has addressed criterion 7.2. Note that the points 1.1, 1.2 etc do not have to correspond to the criteria - in fact, it would not make sense for them to do so.]
The aim of this investigation is to identify the physical, chemical and biological factors in a dry sclerophyll ecosystem and their interaction. A microscopic area of Goonoowigall Bushland Reserve was examined over a very brief period.
[In this section the student has attempted to address criterion 1.1]
1.1 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DRY SCHLEROPHYLL FOREST
The dominant tree species are Eucalyptus, Wattle and Casuarina and the understorey is a layer of shrubs and grasses with lots of dry tough litter creating a mulch which breaks down very slowly. The density of foliage is usually 30% to 50%, therefore cutting out 50% of light. Seasonal rainfall and drought, low nutrient soil and periodic bushfires are features of a dry sclerophyll forest.
[In this section the student addresses criterion 1.2]
Goonoowigall Bushland Reserve is situated 5 km south of Inverell (see map appendix 1). This bushland covers an area of approximately 900 hectares and includes picnic spots and walking tracks to scenic and historical points. Some evidence of Aboriginal occupation can be found along Middle Creek, however few compared with other areas of Inverell.
[Together with a map showing the location of the ecosystem in relation to the town of Inverell, marked with the scale, latitude and longitude and direction of north this section addresses criterion 1.3]
Goonoowigall Bushland Reserve is located in the hot dry summer, cold winter zone based on the temperatures and humidity. In July the minimum temp. is 3.6oC with a max. of 14.7 oC, however January shows minimum of 16.4 oC and a maximum of 29.0oC. The rainfall recorded for the past 3 years is 2400 mm, with heavier rainfall during summer period. The average annual rainfall is 795.3 mm. (Bureau of meteorology).
[The use of scientific and mathematical units and abbreviations addresses criterion 3.5]
Goonoowigall was part of a territory belonging to the Jukambal Aboriginal People. Descendants still lived in the area near Sheep Station Creek until the early 1960’s. Aboriginal meaning of Goonoowigall is thought to be “Plenty of Rock Wallaby and Water”. (Wiedermann, 1998)
In the 19th. century Goonoowigall established itself as an industrial village. A tannery was built and tin was also discovered along Middle Creek and mining commenced using manual extraction methods. In addition a woolwash was opened. The wash area comprised of a number of buildings and on Middle Creek a stone dam that held a considerable amount of water was built. This business continued until mid 1930’s. Ferndale was another settlement that established itself in the area and included a school house and another woolwash. In the early 1900’s large well organised groups would visit Goonoowigall to picnic and admire the scenery. Brickworks was another industry operational in these times, consequently these industries fades into the bush. (Wiederman, 1990).
[The previous two sections address criterion 1.4]
2.0 TECHNIQUES AND EQUIPMENT USED
A 30 m x 30 m site plan was mapped out, taking note of open and dense areas, rocks and pathway. (see map appendix 1). The abiotic factors measured were air and soil temperatures, humidity and light intensity using thermometers, a whirling hydrometer and a lux meter respectively. These results were read on the pathway as well as in dense bush for comparison. Soil samples were also taken from two different sites and tested using a soil testing kit. Factors recorded were pH, colour, friability and depth of soil to determine soil type. Moss and grass content and rocks were also recorded. The biotic factors were determined by identifying the dominant species of trees and plants. Other species were also examined and observation made on density, height, leaf and seed type. These factors were noted. Evidence of animals was also looked for and scats collected whilst bird calls were heard and recorded. Photographs were taken and samples collected to help identify species.
[In this section the student addresses criteria 2.1 and 2.2. Equipment (2.3) is mentioned but a statement needs to be made as to why this equipment was used.]
2.1 TRANSECT AND QUADRAT
A 30 m transect line was measured to make a profile drawing of the site. A 1 m square quadrat had biological factors counted and recorded to determine the density of plant and animal species on the site. Further more, these results could be extended to identify the biodiversity of species in Goonoowigall Reserve.
[The student here addresses criterion 2.4]
All evidence of data collected has been listed in appendix 2, however because of limited time and experience an extensive report could not be compiled. For instance soil samples were taken in only two positions and air temperatures recorded once. These factors can vary considerably and deserve more time to give accurate results.
[The student attempts to cover criterion 3.2]
Further more, an ecologist would have more time and knowledge and more sophisticated equipment enabling accurate results. For example, small computerised equipment to record data and more quadrats would be measured and examined for comparisons.
[The student attempts to cover criterion 3.3]
[In the appendix criterion 3.1 may be covered by showing data in table form, diagrams, graphs, food chains or webs etc]
4.0 ECOLOGY OF THE SITE
The site investigated was a flat semi open area with light intensity and temperatures typical of the dry sclerophyll bush. The soil varied, however both samples were acidic and had a high content of granite due to surrounding rocks on the site. Because the soil is poor the water is not retained for long periods, hence a shallow, dry, low nutrient soil. The producers on the site are native to Australia, therefore well adapted to cope with water loss and poor soils. For instance Eucalypt leaves are hard and reuse minerals before falling. They also hang vertically minimising the effects of evaporation. Many species display small flowers with reduced petals and stems. The Acacia species has flattened leaf like stems known as phyllodes that act as leaves. Phyllodes exhibit extreme resistance to drying, when drought occurs the plant can aestivate, re-growing when water becomes available. (Groves, 1987).
As a result of past land use no old growth trees remain on the site. However, a weathered, large stump near pathway suggests Ironbark species may have been present at sometime. The Black Cypress Pine (Callitris endlicheri), a tall upright tree approx. 12 m has established itself as the dominant tree species due to the low nutrient soil and its resistance to drought and frosts. Another tree identified was the Orange Gum (Eucalyptus prava), a twisted gum with a distinct orange bark visible particularly on adult trees. Young leaves are oval in shape whilst adult leaves are thin and long. This gum is common in granite areas. The Broad Leaf Geebung (Persoonia cornifolia), a small tree with thin stems was also present on site. The fruit was bush food for local Aboriginal people and is much loved by the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita).
Fungi and Lichens are decomposers and can be found growing on decaying surfaces and rocks. Lichens are very slow to grow and are also resistant to conditions such as drying, this enables them to live in exposed places particularly where air is clean. Fungi and Lichens are very useful as they recycle dead material into mulch and Lichens begin the first step in soil formation by decaying rock materials into sand, as part of a biological weathering process.
Tingha Golden Wattle (Acacia leptoclada), and Grey Tea-tree (Leptospermum brevipes) are some of the dominant tall shrubs in the understorey, common in the rocky shallow soil area. They share similar adaptations to reduce transpiration. Mouse Plant (Homoranthus flavescens) is a low creeping shrub dominant in rocky exposed area. (see transect appendix). This plant is a native honeysuckle, the smelly, sweet nectar was used by Aboriginal people. Many native producers have seeds enclosed in woody cases protecting them from exposure in dry periods and also some need intense heat from a bushfire before germination begins.
The native mammals in the area are nocturnal, as they can be exposed to excessive heat during the day. For instance the Rock Wallaby (Petrogale) has coloured shades of brown and grey fur with stripes or patterns creating camouflage for the animal during the day. These animals are also extremely agile on rock terrain. Many of the bird species are pollen and insect eating varieties. The Little Lorikeet (Glossopsitta pusilla), a bright green parrot, is hard to see as it blends with the bush. These small birds are common in woodlands feeding on flowering and fruit bearing trees. Unfortunately exotic pests introduces by early settlers have also established at Goonoowigall.
[The student has addressed criteria 4.1 (and by providing a food web in the appendix) 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4 in this section]
[The student has achieved criterion 7.1 in this section and by using terms such as adaptation, evaporation and aestivation in the correct context the student has addressed criterion 7.3]
[In order to achieve criterion 7.4 the student would need to use phrases such as "It is thought that this adaptation enables the plant to survive droughts."]
[In order to cover criterion 3.4 the student needed to show a calculation using the data collected, for example, using the number of ants observed in the quadrat (an area of 1 square metre) a calculation of the predicted number of ants on the surface of the whole area studied.]
5.0 GOVERNMENT CONTROLS
The Goonoowigall Bushland Reserve was gazetted in 1976 as a reserve for Public Recreation and Preservation of Native Flora. Since 1981 a trust comprising of seven local volunteers, appointed by the Minister of land and Water Conservation, has been responsible for maintaining this local recreation service for the general public, eg. bushwalkers and students, and the NSW Government. Prior it was a reserve for flora, controlled by the MacIntyre Shire. (A fax of questions to Secretary of trust is included in appendix 3).
The reserve is under the total protection of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. (see Conservation Code append. 3). The trust administers this code and provides the department with an annual report. Income is from Government grants but they are very irregular. The trust has little restrictions with controls, however must comply with NSW Statutory regulations.
[Covers criteria 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3]
A problem being experienced at present is the NSW Fire Controls re walking paths have to be extended to enable a fire truck admittance for bushfires. This will damage flora, creating more erosion unless sides of tracks are raised and mounded. Also motorbikes are already a current problem, widening the tracks and placing speed humps on path could exacerbate the problem.
[Attempts to address criterion 5.4. A further statement about suggested improvements would fully cover this criterion.]
The Goonoowigall Bushland Reserve is typical hard, rugged Australian scrub and contains a rich biodiversity of protected native flora and fauna species. Animals and plants survive and grow under extreme conditions in this type of ecosystem, however the elements at Goonoowigall combine making it an ecologically sustainable environment.
Due to the colourful history of Goonoowigall which is typical to many parts of Australia, many original species of plants and animals may have disappeared in small areas, but eventually most species of plants will regenerate. Recently identified and named by the Royal Botanical Gardens is a Cycad species. The Burrawang (Macrozamia) has adapted and is unique to the Goonoowigall Bushland Reserve. The Aboriginal people ate this bush food after a lengthy preparation due to the poisonous seed. Our future generations will be thankful that local volunteers saw the beauty and richness of this landscape and had the foresight to protect it before human usage could continue causing irreversible damage to the natural flow of energy needed to sustain life in this forest.
Wiederman, E., 1990, World of its own, Inverell's early years, Devill Publicity, Inverell.
Wiederman, E., 1998, Holding its own, Regional publishing, Inverell.
Groves, R. H., (ed.), 1987, Australian vegetation, Cambridge University press, Hong Kong.
Elliot, G., 1990, Australian Plants Identified, Hyland House Publishing, Melbourne.
Forshaw, J. M., 1981, Australian Parrots, Ure smith Press, Willoughby, NSW.
Australian Ecosystem Series, Dry Schlerophyll Forest, (Video recording), 1994
Bureau of Meteorology, 2000, ‘Climate and Weather, What is the Difference?’,
Britannica CD rom, ‘94 to ‘98 edition, ‘Wallaby’.
Britannica CD rom, ‘94 to ‘98 edition, ‘The process of Weathering’.
Dept. of Agriculture NSW, 1982, Agfacts, Lichens, (L.J. Penrose, Agriculture Research and Veterinary Centre), Orange.
Goonoowigall Bushland Trust, 1992, ‘The Goonoowigall Bushland Reserve’, Inverell Trust, Inverell.
[The student has addressed criterion 6.1 by using materials from books, video, CD ROM and internet]