Science teacher Miss Cannon’s pet tortoise, Tommy, has helped Year 11 students understand more about ecology, as part of a required practical element in the biology GCSE curriculum.

The 15 to 16-year-olds are currently studying the adaptations, interdependence and competition module and Tommy let them see first-hand how animals, and plants, have adaptations to allow them to compete for resources.

Together, the classes identified the two-year old reptile to be an Eastern Hermann Tortoise (a protected endangered species) by monitoring his physical properties, including appearance, development and behaviour. They went on to research Tommy’s food and nutrition and evolution and variation.

As well as their phenotype observations of as living organism, the cohort has also been collecting data about distribution and abundance of plant species, using experimental methods implemented by ecologists.

Using quadrants in the school, grounds, classmates carried out random sampling and sampling along a transect line.  Students were challenged to consider and measure abiotic factors, such as trampling or light levels and the effect it had on populations of grasses and clover.

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