Dissertation part 5

Following on from my last post about my dissertation; things havn’t gone as smoothly as I’d hoped!

It turned out that the samples of Small leaved Lime that I was able to collect, was enough to carry out my dissertation question so I have had to start my fieldwork again using a different species. I am now looking at self incompatibility in Sticky groundsel instead and have started collecting my samples again!

I am extremely relieved that I started my dissertation when I did because fortunately, I still have time to do what I need to do…. my advice to anyone doing a dissertation is to start right away! There are many things that don’t go to plan when carrying out research and it’s much better to allow time for problems.

Dissertation- part 3

I decided to visit another 2 sites that I will be sampling from last week; Shrawley Wood and Wyre Forest.

I visited Wyre Forest first; one of the largest remaining ancient woodlands in Britain. It covers 6000 acres of woodland walks and trails, and many rare species of flora and fauna can be found. Much of Wyre is designated as Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

I then visited Shrawley Wood, which is one of the largest small- leaved lime woodlands in the country and also has a spectacular display of bluebells in May.

I managed to identify enough flowering small- leaved lime for my dissertation at both sites, and I look forward to returning to carry out my sampling!

Dissertation- part 2

My dissertation will involve sampling Small leaved lime from four different sites in the UK; Shrawley wood and Wyre forest in Worcestershire, and Eaves and Aughton wood, both in the North. The sampling will be carried out during the flowering period of the tree; which is likely to be during the first two weeks of July.

I decided that I would visit each site ahead of the main study; mainly to check that there are enough accessable tree rounds, but also just to take a look around! I visited Eaves Wood in Silverdale today; which is a beautiful area of limestone grassland and mixed woodland, owned by the National Trust. It was definitely worth a visit; I identified plenty of Small leaved lime, and also enjoyed the lovely weather and outstanding views of Morecambe Bay.

I look forward to visiting the remaining three sites over the next couple of weeks 🙂

A landscape view of Silverdale and Morecambe Bay from Arnside Knott © NTPL/David Noton



Dissertation- part 1

For my dissertation, I will be studying self incompatibility in Tilia cordata (small leaved lime).

Self incompatibility is a system for the recognition & rejection of self pollen, & is an important characteristic in plants for avoiding inbreeding. I want to determine if Tilia cordata is self incompatible; & if so, I want to identify what type of self incompatibility system it has (as there are two types; gametophytic & sporophytic).

In a previous post, I mentioned that I started to practice the methods involved with my research, during a week long, Research Methods module; I have now began to develop this. The way in which a self incompatibility system is identified, involves taking a sample of the plant, staining it, & mounting it onto a slide; then carrying out fluorescence microscopy. This microscopy technique allows the necessary parts of the plant to fluorescence under a microscope, which will allow me to determine if the plant is self incompatible or not. I plan to collect my samples at four different sites the beginning of July; and carry out fluorescence microscopy the following week.

I spent yesterday practicing the staining and mounting technique, using a species of Hawthorn, which I collected from the University Campus. I was fortunate enough to have the help & assistance of one of our associate lecturers & PhD student, Clare Bugg. I now plan to visit the four sites that I will be sampling from, & I then plan to practice using the fluorescence microscope.

When I first began thinking about my dissertation it was quite daunting; as the thought of completing such a large project independently, made me think that it was too much to handle. Now that i’ve started it & broken it down into smaller stages, my confidence is starting to grow. The advice I would give to anyone who is worrying about their dissertation; is to start as soon as possible & try to get the best out of your tutor & dissertation supervisors. There are also plenty of resources available, such as dissertation handbooks. I purchased the Palgrave Study Skills, ‘How to write your undergraduate dissertation’, & I would recommend it, it’s really helped me!

Research methods

Last week was our Research Methods module; this involved choosing a research project of our own and presenting our findings in a poster presentation at the end. I decided to use the week to practice the methods that I will be carrying out for my dissertation. It proved to be a lot more difficult than I had expected, and I did come across a few hiccups along the way, although I did get there in the end!

This was a new module within the course; in previous years the module consisted of a week long field corse trip to a location chosen by the module leaders; but we got the opportunity to choose what we wanted to do, and where we wanted to do it. I found this to be quite beneficial because we were given the flexibility and responsibility of managing our own project; which is exactly what we will be doing with our dissertation.

I thought that it was a good practice of seeing a project from start to end and it also highlighted the fact that you often will come across unexpected problems, and that research often takes a lot longer than you may have originally planned. It has certainly made me think differently about my dissertation, and I will be starting it right away to allow the time needed 🙂