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Biology Lab: Field Exercise #3 - Winter Conditions

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Lab Exercise

Remember that field labs must be done in order....on time if possible.

Biology Lab: Field Lab #3

The Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments has a number of labs focussing on observation of plants and animals:
  • Lab IX-1 Fungi
  • Lab X-1 Simple Plants: Mosses and Ferns
  • Lab XI-1 Porifera and Cnidaria
  • Lab XI-2 Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, and Annelida
  • Lab XI-3 Arthropods

See instructions below for including one of these procedures in this field lab.

It is time to go back, if possible, to your field area, and note the changes that have occured there.

Goal: To observe changes in the field area



  1. In the winter, you will observe, of course, changes in deciduous plants. You may also notice changes in seeds and berries. Are there more or different kinds of mushrooms or other life-forms which are primarily decomposers?
  2. There are also changes to the animal population. Are there as many mosquitoes and frogs around? How about other insects, such as moths, butterflies, caterpillars? [My path to work is always booby trapped by great orb spiders in the fall]. Check under rotting logs and piles of leaves for insect life. If your field area is in the path of a bird migration, you will notice changes in the bird populations as well (watch where you step). Are you able to observe small rodents getting ready for winter?
  3. If you have already had freezing weather or snow, the changes will be more severe than in milder climates. What damage has the weather done to ground (erosion), and plants (broken branches from snow or high wind; frost damage). What preparations are the plants making for the coming spring (check the tips of branches for buds which will set until warm weather)?
  4. If you have had exceptional weather (always possible with El Niño conditions), what changes have these conditions caused.
  5. Try to be as complete as possible in your description of changes to your field area. Be sure to include in your report changes to your inventory:
  6. Are any plants or animals missing which you observed during your first inventory? What has happened to them?
  7. Do you observe any new plants or animals in your area?
  8. Focus Area: Depending on the availability of forms in your field area, select one of the IGHBE labs listed above (we recommend arthropoda at this time of year, since there are usually insects available, but if you did not use the fungi lab for Field Lab #2, this may be a good opportunity as well. Complete the observations for the appropriate procedure and include these in your report.
  9. Hypothesis: Review your report from Field Lab #1. Copy your table of information and include updated information and measurements. Assess the hypothesis your created in Field lab #1: do any changes in the plants and animals you observe now support your hypothesis?


up your notes as completely as possible in a formal report, using the same format as you did in Field Lab #1 to make comparisons easier.