To link in with their habitat topic, year 4 conducted a woodlouse themed experiment.
To find out what type of habitat the woodlice prefer.
The majority of the class predicted that the woodlice would prefer the damp, wooded, dark habitat compared to the dry, bright habitat.
Step 1: We collected plenty of woodlice from our wildlife area.
Step 2: Using a large plastic tray, we layered one half with damp bark and leaves and covered this with a black piece of paper and the other half with dry straw and gave it plenty of light.
Step 3: To make it a fair test, we carefully released the woodlice into the centre of the tray so that they were able to choose which habitat they preferred.
All of the woodlice preferred the dark, damp habitat compared to the dry, bright habitat.
Why did they prefer this habitat?
- The common woodlouse is not an insect but a crustacean. It is closely related to crabs and shrimps. Most crustaceans live in water but woodlice live on land and breathe through gills like fish.Their gills need to be covered with a thin layer of water to work well so they prefer to live in damp places such as underneath fallen leaves or bark.
- Decaying leaves and wood is also what woodlice feed on.
- Areas exposed to sun or light dry out more quickly whereas darker places remain damp. Woodlice are also safe from predators. However, woodlice have a harder shell on the outside and are able to curl into a ball to protect themselves from predators.
Perhaps dark, damp, decaying bark and leaf litter wouldn’t be our perfect place to live, but woodlice are perfectly adapted to this habitat.
At the end of the experiment release the woodlice back to their habitat outside. Don’t forget to say thank you to them for taking part in our experiment!