Wytham student for 2013-14

Joe, our student at Wytham during 2013-14, shares his experiences of working with ECN and CEH as a Wytham placement student.

The time I have spent working for the ECN so far has been fantastic. It has given me the opportunity to experience a broad array of fieldwork sampling techniques. It has also allowed me to work with people specialising in varying areas of ecology and hydrology. The role is very varied, I have learnt techniques used in a laboratory environment, as well as getting the chance to gain experience in insect identification.

I am especially interested in cimate change and the effects this has on plants, animals and ecosystems. The ECN’s large data set has enabled me to further understand and observe how a higher frequency of extreme weather events and changes in climate trends can affect invertebrate activity and plant phenology, which can result in wider impacts on ecosystems.

Student recording the manual weather station data

Whilst on the placement I have been able to undertake my own project, investigating whether lichen populations vary in different areas of Wytham Woods due to localised variations in environment and pollutant sources. I have transects set up in different management areas of the woods, leading to likely sources of nitrogen pollution (farmland) and of sulphur pollution (busy roads). This has allowed me to work independently, planning and carrying out my own fieldwork.

I particularly enjoy being out at Wytham carrying out the fieldwork. This is at least once a week – with our weekly fieldwork collection on Wednesdays – but increases in the Spring and Summer months.

I would recommend this position to anyone wishing to gain experience in a scientific working environment, anyone looking to gain expertise in practical skills within environmental science or anyone who may be interested in a further career in academia.

Joe Rowland
BSc Environmental Science
Aberystwyth University