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Introduction to ecosystems
Introduction to ecosystems

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5.3 The survival of Wicken Fen

We will now revisit Wicken Fen, Britain’s oldest nature reserve. The reserve is being managed artificially, in order to support multiple habitats, and by extension multiple species and multiple food chains. Those working on the reserve believe that without management the fen would be overtaken by bushes and trees, which would reduce the number of habitats, and support fewer species.

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Is this a case where human intervention is a positive factor acting on the ecosystems present? Would you consider the fen to be an artificial ecosystem – one that would not exist but for human intervention? Here are some questions raised by this video. Make brief notes on possible answers in preparation for the discussion later.

  • What are the factors contributing to high level of species diversity?
  • What is the significance of Wicken Fen?
  • What kind of ecosystems and habitats would result if Wicken Fen wasn’t managed by humans?
  • Does the need for biodiversity outweigh the need for natural succession?
  • What kind of management tools are used to managed Wicken Fen?
  • What would be the result if Wicken Fen was destroyed or lost?

Contributors to this video include David Gowing (OU), Joanna Freeland (OU), Adrian Calston (Property Manager, Wicken Fen), Carol Laidlaw (Warden, Wicken Fen), Martin Lester (Head Warden, Wicken Fen).