Biology Camp – 7 Days

An Intensive Excursion for Senior Students

For students studying biology, there is no better place to explore biodiversity and the interconnectedness of life than in Far North Queensland. The Wet Tropics and The Great Barrier Reef attract biologists from all over the world, and both sites boast endemic species found nowhere else on the planet. What we traditionally define as a “biology camp” actually transforms to a biology excursion.

Students travel to and evaluate five different ecosystems:  lowland tropical rainforest, dry sclerophyll forest, highland tropical rainforest, mangrove systems and coral reefs.

On this tour of Australia’s unique and biodiverse places, students discover endemic and endangered species, perform field techniques biologists do, and meet with researchers and scientists who are making a difference in the world.
Bring your students on a biology program that brings them out of the classroom and engages them in the natural world.

Highlights:

  • Participate in Eye on The Reef service project at The Great Barrier Reef.
  • Ascend over the Daintree Rainforest in JCU’s canopy crane.
  • Encounter endemic species in both the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics.
  • Learn from an expert entomologist about bizarre bug behaviour.
  • Perform water quality testing in three different ecosystems.
  • Discover mangrove systems and their link to the reef.
  • Tour James Cook University’s marine labs, mosquito research facility and herbarium.
  • Look for nocturnal and crepuscular creatures during a spotlighting activity.
  • Learn to fashion insect traps that allow observation of entomological diversity.
  • Evaluate ecosystems using biologist’s tools.

Benefits & Bonuses:

  • All accommodation, most meals, guides and transport to activities included
  • Risk assessment provided
  • Price Guarantee: price will not change once you sign up for your trip
  • Expert guides – not “bus drivers”
  • We cater to student special diets and swimming levels
  • Goodies! Water bottle, field guide, cloth shopping bag and rainforest plot adopted in your name
  • MAKE IT YOUR OWN – This trip is fully customisable.  Ask us for details!
Day 1: Arrive, Botanic Gardens, Ecosystem & Biodiversity Introduction

Day 1: Arrive, Botanic Gardens, Ecosystem & Biodiversity Introduction

Arrival in Cairns: Welcome to Cairns! You are met at the airport by one of our staff and have an orientation and safety briefing. (Plan to arrive before 11 am)

Botanic Gardens with Expert Botanist: Next an expert botanist/entomologist leads you through what is considered one of the best tropical gardens in the world. Here you learn the colours insects can see that humans can’t, how plant veins indicate its era and why the eerily-named Corpse Flower attracts thousands of visitors every few years.

Plant Evolution Trail: Then tracing a loop through the Gondwanan Heritage Garden, you witness how plants evolved as the continents pulled apart. You also learn how plant and insect interactions influenced the evolution of flowers. You meet descendants of plants that turned into our present coal beds, which ones killed Aborigines slowly over time, and the plant that was recently discovered in the Daintree Rainforest that was thought to have been gone forever. You also discover how, by a strange twist of geological fate, the Wet Tropics UNESCO World Heritage Area became the oldest continually growing rainforest on earth.

Crater Lake: Later you visit Lake Eacham at Crater Lakes National Park, an ancient volcanic crater—or maar—now protected in a national park. You’ll look for Boyd’s Forest Dragons, turtles and birds of paradise, after which you can take a plunge in the cool clear waters of the crater.

Accommodation: You ascend to the Cairns Highlands where you arrive at your campground for the night in a peaceful park with a sparkling swimming pool.

Accommodation: Highlands Camping
Meals included: Lunch and Dinner

Photo credit: Dr. Martin Cohen

Day 2: Ecosystem Evaluation, Field Techniques and Comparison Study

Day 2: Ecosystem Evaluation, Field Techniques and Comparison Study

Ecosystem Evaluation  Rainforest: During this trip you perform three ecosystem evaluations to compare vegetation structure, health, ecological function and biodiversity. This morning you travel to one of the last remaining sections of endangered rainforest and duplicate field work that “normal” biologists do.

Field Guides: Field guides, 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics and 101 Plants of the Wet Tropics are yours to keep and give you a background about regional and endemic species.

Transects and Vegetation Profiles: Within this ecosystem you evaluate biodiversity along a transect using quadrats. You learn how to assess vegetation composition, structural complexity, canopy structure, and ground cover. You then sketch a vegetation profile after using field tools like a clinometer.

Leaf Classification: The next activity is designed to give you the skills to identify aspects of leaves and to determine dominant leaf categories and thus rainforest type. Being able to know what type of leaf you are looking at while in the field is vital to identify the species of tree and it can also be used to classify the type of rainforest that you’re in.

Biodiversity Site:  Next you ascend to 164 acres of private property that boasts a mosaic of ecosystems including riparian rainforest, open eucalyptus woodlands, melaleuca wetlands, billabongs and complex ecotones, and used as film location site by the BBC. This site is perfect for biology studies and for comparing ecosystem structures within a very short radius. Hosting you is an expert entomologist who has discovered five new species of glowworm and worked with famed naturalist David Attenborough.

Accommodation: You camp on the property 60 metres away from the gentle Rifle Creek. Although this is Aussie bush camping, creature comforts are available: toilets,  showers, fire circle, a refreshing swimming hole and an abundance of fresh locally grown food for delicious meals prepared on site. Tents and sleeping pads are provided.

Insect Activity and Making Light Traps: With your entomologist, you learn how to easily fashion and insect light trap. Later you record the species/ families of insects found in different ecosystems and you can compare them and make observations about which species are generalists and which are specialists.

Accommodation: Bush Camping on Private Property
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3: Ecosystem Evaluation, Water Quality Measurements, Daintree Rainforest and Debate

Day 3: Ecosystem Evaluation, Water Quality Measurements, Daintree Rainforest and Debate

Ecosystem Evaluation Woodlands: This morning you continue your ecosystem evaluations, but the woodlands environment stands in stark contrast to the rainforest you evaluated yesterday.

Water Quality Measurements: With your guide you discover the language of water and what it says about the creatures that can survive in it. You take water quality measurements involving indicators like Ph, nitrate and phosphate levels. Testing for these elements may reveal the presence of fertilizers or biological extremes, which will also aid in your discussion about species survival rate and eutrophication.

Daintree Rainforest and Swim: Then you cross into the incomparable Daintree Rainforest, the jewel in the crown of the Wet Tropics. For biology students, this is an important area for study: this area of the country has the highest concentration of primitive flowering plant families in the world, Australia’s rarest mammal (the Murina florious bat) and 13 species of birds found nowhere else on earth. You enjoy a refreshing swim in a clear “croc-free” rainforest swimming hole.

Daintree Rainforest Observatory & Research Station: Next you arrive at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory, an eco-monitoring site and research station with wet and dry labs. It lies in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest, and claims the highest biodiversity of anywhere in Australia! You get a safety orientation and then a presentation about the significance of this rainforest and about the important research happening here.

Environmental Debate: Later you participate in a debate which focuses on issues of development and effects on biodiversity. Students are given background information and a summary of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) about a major resort development proposed for Cairns and then given different roles to play of community members. This requires evaluating projected economic, social and environmental impacts as well as proposed sustainability efforts and then arguing for or against the development. This is a fun way for you to get involved with all sides of an environmental debate with a real-life example that has gained significant national media attention.

Accommodation: Your lodging for the night is in the brand-new facilities at the station. Rooms are single gender, four- and six-bed rooms.  These have access to a communal industrial kitchen, and an amenities block nearby provides laundry, bathroom and shower facilities.

Nocturnal Wildlife Spotlighting Activity: Tonight with your guide you can roam the rainforest to spot the Daintree’s elusive crepuscular and nocturnal creatures as they come to life as the sun sets. Your guide knows what signs to look for during this spotlighting exercise, and you may have a chance to meet the Northern Brown Bandicoot, Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo, or the striped possum as it leaps onto the rainforest’s giant fan palms.

Accommodation: Daintree Research Station
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4: Rainforest Canopy Crane & Ecosystem Evaluation, Mangrove Study and Reef Presentation

Day 4: Rainforest Canopy Crane & Ecosystem Evaluation, Mangrove Study and Reef Presentation

JCU Canopy Crane: The James Cook University research station is also home to a tower canopy crane. After a safety orientation, you climb into a suspended gondola with the crane operator. The crane then ascends over the rainforest canopy, and can swing 360 degrees, surveying 1 hectare of the incredible biodiversity that has earned the Daintree UNESCO World Heritage status. This research station is only 1 of 3 of its kind existing in the tropics. (Students must be at least 16 years old. Activity runs Monday-Friday only).

Ecosystem Evaluation Daintree Rainforest: While you wait your turn in the crane, you also divide into small groups and conduct an ecosystem evaluation of tropical lowland rainforest. Surrounding the research station, several trails traverse various elevations and rainforest growth at various stages of succession. These trails provide avenues for you to experience primary and secondary rainforest, rainforest reforestation, as well as a dynamic creek.

Water Quality Measurements: In the creek you continue with your water quality measurements, with which you can discover the presence of toxicants such as insecticides, herbicides and metals. These measurements provide you with information on what may be impacting freshwater systems.

Mangrove Biome and Boardwalk: Next you travel to a raised walkway which takes you through a natural and critical mangrove ecosystem which is the breeding ground for many important aquatic species. You learn how mangroves deal with a lot of salt in their diet, how they act as the baby nurseries of the marine world and why both humans and the reef rely on these complex systems.

Marine Biologist Presentation: This evening you learn more about biodiversity and the significance of the Great Barrier Reef during this presentation taught by a marine biologist.   From colourful corals that take whimsical shapes like broccoli, brains and baskets to a host of fish such as the chocolate-dipped damsel, the Picasso triggerfish and the giant Maori wrasse, you learn how to identify the most common creatures at the reef. You find out about threatened species and coral predators–such as the Crown of Thorns—and the consequences of climate change and human activity on the reef. More importantly, you learn about the real hazards at the reef (like the innocent-looking cone shell) versus the imagined ones (like scary sharks) fueled by Hollywood myths. You leave with a greater understanding of the reef environment and an appreciation of the natural wonder you are about to experience.

Accommodation:Cairns Budget Accommodation
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5: The Outer Great Barrier Reef: Snorkelling, Biology and Data Collection

Day 5: The Outer Great Barrier Reef: Snorkelling, Biology and Data Collection

Boat Ride and Reef Introduction: Your day begins with an air-conditioned catamaran ride to the outer Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World-Heritage site and one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet.  On the way out, your marine educator introduces you to the life you will encounter at the reef.

Snorkelling: Upon arrival at the outer reef, an underwater universe greets you: clear turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef host a 1,800 species of fish and 450 species of coral.  With full use of snorkeling gear, you can expect to see a rainbow of hard and soft corals, turtles, and a variety of fish species including butterfly fish, giant Maori Wrasse, parrot fish, and the entire cast of Finding Nemo. Not a problem if you are new to snorkelling; the crew will ensure you are safe and comfortable in the water.

Data Collection: Next you receive in-water training on how to conduct the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Rapid Monitoring Survey. Your marine guide will point out key features of the reef ecosystem, answer any questions, and conduct a practice survey with group. Then during a timed snorkel session, you record your underwater findings.  Your guide and waterproof slates help you identify a host of marine life and calculate benthic zone coverage. Most importantly, you look for signs of coral bleaching and coral predators which greatly affect the health of the reef.  Your data is then collected and contributes to the central reporting system used by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to manage the long term sustainability of this UNESCO World Heritage area.

Lunch today is a tropical buffet served on the boat.

Field Guide & Sightings Ap: 101 Animals of The Great Barrier Reef, written by Dr. Martin Cohen, helps you to better understand the underwater world and is yours to keep.  Before the trip, we’ll also give you information about downloading an app with which you can log in sightings of reef fauna and flora and your data is then sent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Accommodation:Cairns Budget Accommodation
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6: James Cook University Biology Workshop & Mangrove Studies

Day 6: James Cook University Biology Workshop & Mangrove Studies

Biology Seminar: Today you head to James Cook University for a biology-focused workshop. JCU is Australia’s highest-ranked university in environmental science and offers marine biology studies not found anywhere else. Through a custom-designed interactive workshop today you have the opportunity to engage with world leading researchers and equipment.

JCU Aquarium: Here you get to explore a research, film and educational facility on the campus. The facilities allow you to observe some of the world’s deadliest marine creatures, such as the Stone Fish and Box Jellyfish, while also learning about the important experiments being conducted with these creatures. You also learn about the ground-breaking work JCU scientists are having in developing anti-venoms.

World Class Herbarium: Books upon books of pressed and preserved plant species decorate JCU’s Tropical Herbarium, where you are invited in as privileged guests. The Herbarium is a biologist’s delight; it boasts over 160,000 specimens, cutting edge facilities for processing and curation, as well as research. Highlights include viewing the Spirit Room, do-it-yourself area for plant enthusiasts, and the very special specimens collected by Sir Joseph Banks aboard Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia.

State-of- the-Art Mosquito Research Facility: Next you step into a ‘green-house’ style laboratory designed to replicate the preferred Australian breeding ground of the mozzie! You peer into microscopes to investigate larvae, and discover from scientists what experiments they are performing to control the spread of tropical diseases, such as dengue fever and malaria. You also learn how volunteers offer themselves up as “meat” for science.

Back in Cairns after dinner you have a chance to explore the Night Markets to browse for souvenirs.

Accommodation:Cairns Budget Accommodation
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7: Optional Activities and Depart

Day 7: Optional Activities and Depart

After breakfast this morning you have free time for last-minute shopping or souvenir purchases.

Optional Urban Challenge: If you have an afternoon flight, you can choose to spend the morning souvenir shopping, swimming at the lagoon or participating in Small World Journeys’ Urban Challenge! (no extra cost)  The Urban Challenge is a fun team-building exercise that allows students to learn more about the history, nature, art and culture of Cairns.  Small group teams compete against time in this treasure hunt-type activity in Cairns central business district.  This is a popular activity for students and the winning team gets a prize!  Then you are transferred to the Cairns airport for your flight home.


Meals included:
Breakfast

Is this biology excursion too long or too short? Contact us for custom tour options that match your budget and objectives!

School Excursion Fees Include:

  • All activities as described in the itinerary
  • Cairns airport transfers
  • All transportation
  • Small World Journeys guide on Days 1,2, 3, 4 and 6
  • Certified Eco-Guide/Sustainability Expert on Day 5
  • University researchers and scientist talks
  • 1 night highlands camping
  • 1 night bush camping
  • Tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads
  • 2 nights at a central Cairns hostel (6- share rooms with ensuite)*
  • 1 night JCU Research Station cabins (4-share single gender rooms with shared bathrooms)
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All dinners
  • 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics field guide for each student
  • 101 Plants of the Wet Tropics field guide for each student
  • 101 Animals of the Great Barrier Reef field guide for each student
  • Mask, fins, snorkel and wetsuit hire
  • A Small World Journeys reusable water bottle and cloth shopping bag
  • 5 metres square of Daintree rainforest adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue
  • Marine park taxes and levies
  • Carbon offsetting through Sustainable Travel International (STI) for a carbon-neutral trip
  • One teacher/leader FREE for every 10 paying participants

* Two private rooms (twin or triple) for teachers are included in the price of the trip. If additional rooms are required, a supplement of $195 AUD is incurred.  If teachers are happy to share a room, no additional costs are incurred.

School Excursion Fees Exclude:

  • Airfare to Cairns
  • Personal expenses (phone, internet, laundry, etc.)

Land Cost to 31 March, 2018

  • 15 + paying participants: $1568 AUD
  • 10-14 paying participants: $1635 AUD

Accommodation:

All accommodation is included.  Two nights are spent camping in the highlands – but don’t worry! You have cozy tents, access to showers and comfy inflatable sleeping mats. In Cairns you stay at a breezy award-winning hostel in the centre of the restaurant and shopping district. Students like the tropical swimming pool, lounging in the hammock and playing billiards at the free pool table, while group leaders love the private ensuite rooms, air conditioning, laundry facilities and free internet/WiFi.  In the Daintree Rainforest, students stay at a beautifully designed modern rainforest research station. Lodging is  in single-gender quad share cabins with shower facilities and shared bathrooms.

Meals:

Most meals are included. You have a combination of restaurant and student-cooked meals (all food supplied). A typical breakfast is a selection of cereals, toast, juice and fruits; lunches are combinations of sandwiches and salads with fruits and a sweet, and dinners are a sample of BBQs, all-you-can-eat pasta and pizza, seafood treats and local favourites. Ask us about vegetarian, kosher and halal options.

Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons.

TERMS & CONDITIONS

HOW TO BOOK A TRIP WITH US (It’s easy!):

  1. Read our Terms and Conditions.
  2. Pay a $200 AUD deposit for the group (not per person – just a flat $200 to secure your booking) via our payment page or by direct deposit/cheque.
  3. Receive our Confirmation Pack which includes forms parents must sign.
  4. Have each student sign up via our Booking Form and pay for their trip by 60 days prior to the trip.
  5. Enjoy your trip!

Question 1: Do I need a visa to visit New Zealand and Australia?

Answer: ALL visitors to Australia need to arrange a visa BEFORE arriving in the country (with the exception of visitors from New Zealand). In some countries a visa is easily obtained by the travel agent who issues your ticket, and should be free of charge. For more information on getting a visa, please see: Australian Visas. In New Zealand, people with passports from the European Union, Canada and the USA are automatically granted a tourist visa on arrival in New Zealand. All visitors will also need a passport, valid for at least six months after the planned return date.

Question 2: When is the best time to visit New Zealand and Australia?

Answer: On this trip, you will be visiting New Zealand's mild North Island, and tropical Cairns in Australia. New Zealand: Anytime of the year is a good time to visit: students enjoy the mild temperate climate year round. Summer is between December and March and is never too hot. Winters are mild with no snow except on the highest mountains. Australia's Cairns region is a tropical, and outdoor activities can also be enjoyed year-round. In our summer (December-February), the weather is at its warmest and wettest. You can expect hot days with occasional tropical storms, producing lush green hillsides and plenty of waterfalls. Average temperatures are 23-31 degrees Celsius/73-87 Fahrenheit. In our winter (June-August), the climate is at its most mild, with warm days, cool nights, and little rainfall. Average temperatures are 18-26 degrees Celsius/64-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Autumn (March - May) brings unpredictable weather - it can be warm and rainy or hot and sunny. Springtime (September - November) is the most predicable, and days tend to be warm to hot with little rainfall. The visbility at the Great Barrier Reef is at its best September - November, but can be enjoyed year-round. Come June - September for seasonal whale watching.

Question 3: Who is this trip for?

Answer: This holiday program is especially for foreign high school students who are studying in all states of Australia.

Question 4: What if I am coming alone?

Answer: Great! As most students come alone without knowing anyone on the tour, we make a special effort to introduce you to other students in the group and play get-to-know-you games.  Rooming lists are designed to mix different nationalities.  In the past, our trips have been a mix of any of the following nationalities:  American, Argentinian, Austrian, Brazilian, Belgian, Canadian, Chinese, Colombian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish, and Swiss.

Question 5: Who is supervising this trip?

Answer: This trip is led by a Small World Journeys guide, and two guides if there are more than 12 students. Small World Journeys guides who have Australian government background checks and approval to work with children.  Leaders are selected for their local knowledge, safety awareness, ability to establish a good rapport with high school students and who have energy and enthusiasm. When driving is required, the leaders also have a government-issued Driver's Authority and a special LR or MR driver's license.  For more information, see The SWJ Team

Question 6: What do we need to pack?

Answer: A Suggested Packing List will be sent to you once you sign up so you will be able to adequately prepare for your trip.

Question 7: What is the weather like in Sydney and Melbourne?

Answer: Sydney has a temperate climate. Summer is warm temperatures at 18-25 degrees celsius/64- 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall is spread throughout the year. Winters are mild, with average temperatures at 8-16 degrees Celsius/46-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Melbourne and The Great Ocean Road enjoy a temperate climate with warm-hot summers, spring and autumn are balmy and mild and the winters cool. The weather can be quite unpredictable and the city is often said to have “four seasons in a day”.  Prepare for hot and cold weather, rain and wind at any time.

Question 8: What is the weather like in Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef?

Answer: Cairns is a tropical place, and outdoor activities can be enjoyed year-round. In our winter (June-August), the climate is at its most mild, with warm days, cool nights, and little rainfall. Average temperatures are 18-26 degrees Celsius/64-78 degrees Fahrenheit. In our summer (December-February), the weather is at its warmest and wettest. You can expect hot days with occasional tropical storms, producing lush green hillsides and plenty of waterfalls. Average temperatures are 23-31 degrees Celsius/73-87 Fahrenheit. In the autumn (March - May) the weather is more unpredictable: some days it can be warm and rainy, other days hot and humid. September - October tends to be the nicest time of the year - warm to hot days with little chance of rainfall.  

Question 9: What will we eat whilst on tour?

Answer: We understand how important food is to young people – and heaps of it! A typical breakfast will be a continental breakfast including juices, cereals, toast & jams (and optional vegemite!) and a typical packed lunch will be a meat and salad sandwich, drink, chips, biscuits and a piece of fresh fruit. Café lunches and restaurant dinners will vary, such as pastas, pizzas, steak and salad, but we place a big emphasis on variety and healthful options. One night we have a typical Aussie BBQ and other nights we eat in restaurants. Best of all, we carry our snack box when we travel to ensure that no one is ever hungry.

Question 10: When do I schedule my flights for the tour?

Answer: Please do not make flight arrangements until you have received an email from us confirming the tour.   Plan to arrive by 12 noon on Day 1 and plan to depart by 12 noon on Day 7.  If you need assistance booking your airfare, please contact Kim Salter at Travel Managers: kim@travelmanagers.com.au or phone her within Australia - 1 300 640 821

Educational Outcomes for Queensland Biology Camp

Australian National Curriculum – Science

While this student excursion to North Queensland caters to Year 11 & 12 biology students (Biodiversity and the Interconnectedness of Life), its delivery can be tailored to science students in junior years studying the Australian National Curriculum.

Students will be involved with extensive field work, data collection, measurements, analysis, and enquiry.  Activities and lectures are designed to inspire discussion and debate, including a real-life debate on a controversial local issue.

On this biology camp, teachers can tick all of the curriculum boxes, so to speak, on the list below.

Years 11 & 12 Senior Biology Unit 1: Biodiversity and the Interconnectedness of Life

Science Inquiry Skills

  • ACSBL003 Conduct investigations, including using ecosystem surveying techniques, safely, competently and methodically for the collection of valid and reliable data
  • ACSBL006 Select, construct and use appropriate representations, including classification keys, food webs and biomass pyramids, to communicate conceptual understanding, solve problems and make predictions

Science as a Human Endeavour

  • ACSBL009 Development of complex models and/or theories often requires a wide range of evidence from multiple individuals and across disciplines
  • ACSBL010 Advances in science understanding in one field can influence other areas of science, technology and engineering
  • ACSBL011 The use of scientific knowledge is influenced by social, economic, cultural and ethical considerations
  • ACSBL013 Scientific knowledge can enable scientists to offer valid explanations and make reliable predictions
  • ACSBL014 Scientific knowledge can be used to develop and evaluate projected economic, social and environmental impacts and to design action for sustainability

Science as a Human Endeavour- Describing Biodiversity

  • ACSBL015 Biodiversity includes the diversity of species and ecosystems; measures of biodiversity rely on classification and are used to make comparisons across spatial and temporal scales
  • CSBL016 Biological classification is hierarchical and based on different levels of similarity of physical features, methods of reproduction and molecular sequences
  • ACSBL017 Biological classification systems reflect evolutionary relatedness between groups of organisms
  • ACSBL019 Ecosystems are diverse, composed of varied habitats and can be described in terms of their component species, species interactions and the abiotic factors that make up the environment
  • ACSBL020 Relationships and interactions between species in ecosystems include predation, competition, symbiosis and disease

Science as a Human Endeavour- Ecosystem Dynamics

  • ACSBL022 The biotic components of an ecosystem transfer and transform energy originating primarily from the sun to produce biomass, and interact with abiotic components to facilitate biogeochemical cycling, including carbon and nitrogen cycling; these interactions can be represented using food webs, biomass pyramids, water and nutrient cycles
  • ACSBL023 Species or populations, including those of microorganisms, fill specific ecological niches; the competitive exclusion principle postulates that no two species can occupy the same niche in the same environment for an extended period of time
  • ACSBL024 Keystone species play a critical role in maintaining the structure of the community; the impact of a reduction in numbers or the disappearance of keystone species on an ecosystem is greater than would be expected based on their relative abundance or total biomass
  • ACSBL025 Ecosystems have carrying capacities that limit the number of organisms (within populations) they support, and can be impacted by changes to abiotic and biotic factors, including climate events
  • ACSBL026 Ecological succession involves changes in the populations of species present in a habitat; these changes impact the abiotic and biotic interactions in the community, which in turn influence further changes in the species present and their population size
  • ACSBL027 Ecosystems can change dramatically over time; the fossil record and sedimentary rock characteristics provide evidence of past ecosystems and changes in biotic and abiotic components
  • ACSBL028 Human activities (for example, over-exploitation, habitat destruction, monocultures, pollution) can reduce biodiversity and can impact on the magnitude, duration and speed of ecosystem change
  • ACSBL029 Models of ecosystem interactions (for example, food webs, successional models) can be used to predict the impact of change and are based on interpretation of and extrapolation from sample data (for example, data derived from ecosystem surveying techniques); the reliability of the model is determined by the representativeness of the sampling

Every activity is in line with the Australian National Curriculum – Biodiversity and the Interconnectedness of Life.   For a complete list of curriculum outcomes matched with each specific activity, contact us!

How your trip supports the community

SUPPORTING LOCAL INDIGENOUS CULTURE: We acknowledge  Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islander People as the first inhabitants of Australia and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where we work and our groups travel. Your trip includes activities and interaction with local Aboriginal people, the traditional owners of the land on which you are traveling. By taking this trip, you are supporting grassroots indigenous tourism ventures and encouraging Aboriginal pride in culture. We are proud to say that in the financial year of 2015-16, we gave over $28,000 in business to Aboriginal-owned ventures.

SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES: On this educational tour, we use locally owned accommodation, restaurants, and suppliers whenever possible to keep income in the community. This includes supporting farmers by purchasing locally-grown fruits and vegetables for you on your trip. We also give you a list of where to buy locally-made crafts and souvenirs so you can continue this support as well.

SUPPORTING LOCAL HOMELESS & NEEDY PEOPLE: We make both financial and in-kind donations to Rosie’s Friends on The Street, a Cairns-based charity. Rosie’s seeks to provide homeless people and people living rough a hot meal, conversation and a non-judgemental human connection.  Small World Journeys’ staff also volunteer on Rosie’s outreach nights, and many of our students have made comfort packs for Rosie’s patrons! For more information on Rosie’s and other organisations to which we donate, see Philanthropy and Partnerships or ask us how you can incorporate community service with Rosie’s into your educational excursion

How your trip is “Eco-friendly”

ADOPTING A RAINFOREST PLOT IN YOUR NAME: We pay to have a 5-square metre plot of rainforest is adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue. On your excursion, your group will be presented with a certificate detailing the significance of this gift to the environment.

REDUCING WASTE: We give you your own water bottle and cloth shopping bag to eliminate the need for disposable bottles and plastic bags. By reducing our need for plastic bags and bottles, we avoid having these things go into landfills or into the tummies of our native animals. For more information on how we donate to The Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and other environmental groups, see Philanthropy and Partnership.

CARBON OFFSETTING: We calculate the total carbon footprint of your trip. Then we pay Sustainable Travel International (STI) to offset your emissions by investing in environmental and community-based projects. For more information about our carbon offsetting, see 10 Reasons Why We’re Eco.

How your trip is safety-oriented

REFERENCES:  We have had hundreds of students travel with us, and our safety record is excellent.  Ask us for teacher references specifically regarding safety.

VEHICLES: All of our vehicles are equipped with seatbelts for every seat. While this is not a Queensland law, we feel your safety is a priority.  Our guides do safety checks at the start of each day of the trip. In addition, vehicles go through a Department of Transport safety inspection every six months.

RISK ASSESSMENT: We have a complete Crisis Management Plan, we assess risks of the tour and are happy to complete a risk assessment for you upon request. In addition, students are given a safety briefing during orientation, along with a card with emergency numbers, accommodation addresses and phone numbers.

GUIDES AND SAFETY: Small World Journeys’ guides hold current Senior First Aid and CPR certificates, along with government-issued Driver’s Authority and Working With Children cards (also known as a Blue Card). For more information on our guides, see The Small World Journeys Team.