Coastwise finds its Niche......and there's a barnacle in it !
On 31 January Coastwise welcomed one of its long-standing friends, Pip Jollands. Many Coastwise members know Pip from the 'Shore Thing' survey programme, where she helps everyone involved identify their finds on the beaches of Lee Bay and Abbotsham - and does so with endless supplies of both knowledge and patience.
Pip spoke on 'Rocky Shore Niches'and illustrated and explained the question of niches (and how these relate to habitat) by focusing on the humble barnacle.
Pip reminded us that Darwin had spent eight years studying this species and indeed been responsible for identifying it as a crustacean rather than a mollusc. She introduced the concept of the 'n dimensional space' to give an idea of the many factors which bear on any creature's niche. In the case of the barnacle, these include: Dessication, Growth rate, Respiration, Food availability, Reproduction and settlement, Competition, Temperature, Predation and Wave exposure.
By the end of a highly informative and enjoyably amusing talk with a lot of audience participation, it had become very clear why Darwin had found barnacles so interesting.