Fire plays a big role in WA ecosystems and has been used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years.
European settlement has affected natural fire behaviour, which in turn has changed native ecosystems. Scientists in Kings Park are assessing the impacts of varying fire and weed management approaches on plant diversity, weed cover and fuel loads in the urban Banksia Woodland.
Many Western Australian plant species have adaptations to survive in this fire prone environment. Some examples include using the heat of fires to release their seeds, germination stimulated by smoke, regrowth of trees from epicormic buds and lignotubers.
Join us to investigate our Banksia Woodland and learn about the variety of plant adaptations in the South West.
Meet Russell Miller, a research scientist with Kings Park. His research is focused on understanding how plants in Perth's Banksia Woodland respond to fire, this knowledge will help improve land management for conservation. Join Russell in sharing his knowledge in fire science.
Visit the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions website to learn even more about fire science here in Western Australia.
This is a fun experiment to investigate how a plant loses water through its leaves. Leaves have tiny holes called stomata. Water travels up through the roots of plants and passes out the stomata by evaporation. This is called transpiration. Plants in Australia have adapted in different ways to slow this down. Let’s investigate!
Carry out this experiment to measure how much water is lost through transpiration in different Western Australian plants at your school. Collect the water at the end of the experiment to measure the total volume (ml) lost. Make predictions. Take photos. Compare with class members.
- Clear plastic bag
- Elastic band
- Measuring cylinder
- Camera or phone
- Identify a Western Australian plant at school. Florabase website will help to do this.
- Label a clear, clean plastic bag with your name, the date and the plant name.
- Tie the labelled plastic bag firmly around a bunch of leaves on the plant. Be gentle.
- Draw a table for observations (or use our template).
- Check the bag every day. Record observations and take photos.
- Correlate results. Use the data to make conclusions. Draw a graph to show water loss (ml) in different plant species at school. Share results with your class. Do all plants species transpire the same?
- Discuss rate of transpiration. What does this mean?
- List factors that affect the rate of transpiration.
- How would you find out if native plants transpire less than non-native plants?
- Two hypothesis to test in the classroom:
- The effect of light intensity on transpiration.
- The effect of temperature on transpiration.
With your new skills and knowledge visit a site near your school to participate in a citizen science program.
Participating in environmentally friendly behaviour increases civic interest and ability to take action. When we equip students to lead action at their school and in their community, they are more likely to become custodians of social and environmental responsibility, educate their families and broader community about the value of sustainability.
ClimateWatch is an Australian program that aims to monitor and collect phenology data during seasonal events that will help scientists understand the effects of climate change.
Being a ClimateWatcher is simple. Download the ClimateWatch app, then observe and record plant and animal information at school. Or look for a ClimateWatch trail in your area. The information collected will be used by scientists, policy makers and land managers to understand climate change and take appropriate measures.
Watch this short movie presented by Kings Park Education Officer Rickeeta Walley. Rickeeta is a proud Wadjuk Nyoongar yok (woman) with connections to seven of the 14 Nyoongar nations. She has a passion for Aboriginal language preservation and education.
We would love to hear from you and your class. Share your photos and findings with us via social media using the hashtag #STEMActionInKingsPark.