BugWise investigations for Biology

Are you a Biology student who is looking for ideas for ecological investigations, experiments or field work?

These ideas are related to change and survival, can be employ all or any of the Bugwise tools and guides and involve a range of inquiry skills

Golden orb weaver

Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum

Does the diversity of web-building spiders increase with increased biodiversity of native vegetation?

A goal of replanting native plants in degraded areas is to increase biodiversity of native vegetation. The increase in biodiversity is often assumed to transfer to fauna. You can check these goals with your local council or Catchment Management Authority. Biodiversity plans are usually available on their websites. Using the Web2spider method, design an investigation to test if web building spider biodiversity is increased as a result of native revegetation.

Do native plantings encourage native invertebrates?

Local councils often encourage us to use native plants in our gardens to encourage native birds, but do native plants encourage native invertebrates? Using the Web2spider method, design an investigation to test if web-building spider biodiversity is higher in gardens with native plants compared to those without.

How does the edge effect impact on spider diversity?

The edge effect in ecology refers to the effect of placing contrasting environments side by side. When edges are expanded into a natural ecosystem, and the area outside the boundary is a disturbed or unnatural system, the natural ecosystem can be seriously affected for some distance in from the edge. Using the Web2spider method, design an investigation to test if web-building spider biodiversity suffers from edge effects. You might want to consider incorporating in your study, a way of determining how far edge affects (if any) are occurring.

What effect does polution have on web-building spider diversity?

Humans can have a profound impact on ecosystems through pollution. Using the Web2spider method, design an investigation to test if web-building spider biodiversity is affected by pollution. Remember that pollution comes in many forms from noise to litter/garbage.  

Will a more complex habitat support a greater number of species?

The habitat heterogeneity hypothesis is a classic ecological theory. It simply states that a habitat that is more diverse will support a greater number of species (ie higher biodiversity). Using the Web2spider method, design an investigation to test if web-building spider biodiversity increases with habitat heterogeneity.

How does the weather affect web-building?

Local weather conditions can influence animal behaviour. For example, web building spiders do not tend to build webs when it is windy. Set up a monitoring program to track changes in web building spiders in relation to local weather conditions. You might like to collect a range of different weather variables (e.g. wind speed and direction, or maximum daily temperatures) to determine which ones are important for explaining any observed trends.


Sue Lewis , Education Officer, Bugwise for Schools
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