Synopsis of a Field Studies course on Freshwater Algae
and the facilities which the Field Studies Council have to offer

by A.J. Schofield
67 Tradescant Drive, Meopham, Kent DA13 ODZ, UK.

Anyone who is interested in life sciences will know that there is ALWAYS more to learn about the world we live in and the way our every action impacts on other environments.

Some years ago I embarked on a Marine Biology course as an extension to the sport of SCUBA diving in which I was actively engaged. The above course was an extension to knowledge previously gained but in the area of Fresh Water.

Flatford Mill is one of ten Field Study Centres placed around the country which have been set up for education in the natural environment. Each centre has facilities for teaching / lecturing and is available to people of all ages. In addition there are facilities for accommodation from standard single / double rooms, to family and dormitory accommodation.

During my course there were several families who under the guidance of the warden were allowed to set traps for small rodents as part of the FSC’s animal population census. (They were of course released unharmed after identification). Two classes of ‘A’ level students were studying the local flora and fauna, whilst our group of six were studying Fresh Water Algae under the guidance of Allan Pentecost who is an authority and university lecturer on this subject.

After a lecture describing methods for collecting and sampling, we learned basic facts of algae, (there are main four types: Green, Yellow Green, Blue Green and Diatoms), their habitats, identification, life cycles and methods of reproduction. Then it was a foray into the field collecting samples from differing locations. Some samples had to be fixed in the field to prevent aggressive predators in the sample from eating the less motile organisms. Then it was back to the laboratory to classify and observe our samples.

Observing these minute organisms under the microscope whilst having an expert on hand to positively identify them was intriguing and very helpful. Amongst our finds were seen conjugating algae and other types of cell division together with desmids, Fragilaria, beautiful Spirogyra, Coelastrum.

Whilst mainly concerned with observing algae there were many other organisms in our samples such as; Amoeba, rotifers, nematodes and copepods, but those are another weekend course.

Our thanks to the FSC for organising the course and to Allan Pentecost for guiding us through such a fascinating weekend.

Tony Schofield. Date 15-9-96

P.S. For more information on microscopy why not join the Quekett Microscopical Club.

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Species found and identified:-

Green Algae (Chlorophyceae)

a. Eudorina elegans, Chlamydomonas (several Sp), Petalomonas, Closterium parvulum, Mougeotia Sp (rare in this area but common in nutrient poor areas).
b. Eudorina elegans, Chlamydomonas (Spp), Ulothrix (Sp).
c. Eudorina elegans, Closterium, Spirogyra Sp, Pediastrum boryanum, Chlamydomonas, Scenedesmus quadricauda, S. Arcuatus.
d. S. Q, S. araiatus

Yellow green Algae (Xanthophyceae)

a. Tribonema, Vaucheria, Euglena minuta + others, Cryptomonas Sp.

Blue Green Algae (Cyanobacteria)

a. Oscillatoria ambigua, Pseudanabaena minuta .
b. O.A, O. princeps, Anabaena cf oscillariodes.
c. Oscillatoria
d. Aphanizomenon flos- Aquae. Oscillatoria princeps, Spirulina, Microcystis.

Diatoms (Bacillariophyceae)

a. Fragilaria ulna S.Sp, Navicula S.Sp, Nitzschia S.Sp, Gyrosigma S.Sp, Surirella S.Sp, Pinnularia, Gomphonema, Cymbella.
b. Asterionella formosa, Aulacosira, Melosira.
c. Asterionella formosa, Gyrosigma, Nitzschia S.Sp.
d. Asterionella, Nitzschia, Aulacoseria.

Locations of samples:-

a. from wood land ditch . (The mote).
b. from gravel lake.
c. from River Stour at Millpond.
d. from Ardleigh Reservoir. KENT.

From those more knowledgeable than myself please accept my apologies for any genera mistakes.

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I would also be grateful for any information on the following microscopical subjects:-

I am looking for information on the construction of equipment for the micro manipulation of moth / butterfly wing scales, grains of sand and diatoms etc. together with materials used and methods of mounting. To this end I would be interested in obtaining copies of the following Quekett articles or similar papers. Can anyone help! :-

a. Manipulator, Simply constructed, for diatom mounting (Jamieson) 30:109-112.

b. Manipulation, simple contrivances in (Golding) 3:178-179.

c. Microscopic manipulation (Suffolk W.T. 1869-1870) 2:117

d. Finally where can I obtain technical information about microscope threads. Pitches, form angles, diameters etc.

Editor's notes
The Microscopy UK and Micscape Editors would like to thank Tony Schofield, who is a new contributor to Micscape magazine, for submitting this article.

The Field Studies Council can be contacted at Preston Montford, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 1HW, UK. Tel 01743 850370, Fax 01743 850178. They issue an annual listing of courses on offer at their Field Studies Centres around the UK. They also publish a wide range of identification guides and other publications. Catalogue available on request.

Photograph by Dave Walker shows part of Flatford Mill.

 

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