VCE Biology Fieldwork (Unit 1 Area of Study 2 and 3)

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VCE Ricketts

Excursion Program Overview

Students will discover the physiology and behaviour of common marine species within Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary and how these adaptations assist their survival in this challenging environment. Abiotic factors in the environment will also be introduced and how these impact species internal systems (homeostasis). Students will undertake a field investigation across the intertidal zone to gain a better understanding of the relationships between organisms within an ecosystem. They will have the opportunity to develop their fieldwork skills including quadrat surveys, species identification, classification, observation and data recording.

Your 4 hour program includes:

  • Overview of Victoria’s Marine National Parks systems and the role they play in the protection of Victoria’s marine biodiversity
  • Undertaking exercises using preserved and live specimens
  • Discussion and field review of adaptations and homeostasis
  • Introduction to survey techniques and environmentally responsible behaviour
  • Introduction to concepts regarding food webs and species interactions
  • Developing knowledge of the role of research and data collection in the management of Victoria’s marine resources
  • Practical experience in quadrat surveys, data collection and interpretation 

Restrictions: Delivery of program is tide dependent. Please provide alternative dates that spread across at least two weeks.

Prior knowledge required: An understanding of trophic levels and food webs. Familiarity in the use of dichotomous keys, species identification charts and scientific nomenclature. Knowledge of data collection techniques including transects and quadrat surveys.

The sampling techniques used in this program are based Parks Victoria Sea Search moderate-level of difficulty sampling method for intertidal reefs. It is recommended teachers and students review intertidal species identification charts for Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary and quadrat sampling methods (found at

Equipment needed: A copy of workbook, clipboard and pencil per student. Appropriate clothing and footwear (long sleeve top, long pants, jacket, hat/beanie, soft-soled shoes e.g. runners). Students will need a snack/lunch and water.

Equipment supplied by Gould League: Tape measure, quadrats, algal dichotomous keys, species identification charts.

Victorian Curriculum Connections

VCE Biology Unit 1 Area of Study 2/Outcome 2

Key Knowledge provided includes:

 Survival through adaptations and regulation

  • The structural, physiological and behavioural adaptations that enhance an organism’s survival and enable life to exist in a wide range of environments.
  • Successful adaptations as models for biomimicry to solve human challenges.
  • How regulation of factors is needed to maintain a relatively constant internal environment, explained by the stimulus-response model and the use of homeostatic mechanisms including feedback loops.

 Organising Biodiversity

  • Classification of biodiversity, past and present, into taxonomic groups based on shared morphological and molecular characteristics, and naming using binomial nomenclature.

 Relationships between organisms within an ecosystem

  • The beneficial, harmful and benign relationships between species including amensalism, commensalism, mutualism, parasitism and predation.
  • Interdependencies between species as represented by food webs, including impact of changes to keystone species.
  • The distribution, density and size of a population of a particular species within an ecosystem and the impacts of factors including available resources, predation, competition, disease, chance environmental events, births, deaths and migration.

VCE Biology Unit 1 Area of Study 3/Outcome 3

Key Knowledge provided includes

  • The characteristics of scientific research methodologies and techniques of primary qualitative and quantitative data collection relevant to the investigation: laboratory work (microscopy), fieldwork (quadrats, transects and field guides) and/or observational studies of animal behaviour; precision, accuracy, reliability and validity of data; and minimisation of experimental bias.

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Program Details

Program Location Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary
Max # of Groups (group max 30) 4
Possible Start Times 10.15am, 11.15am
Grade Level Year 11
Program Duration 4 hours
Program Type Excursion
Program Theme Biodiversity, Human Impacts, Living things, Marine
Cost per group $620