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Pupils` understuding of cave ecosystems

Nika Glavina (2020) Pupils` understuding of cave ecosystems. MSc thesis.

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    The karst surface covers a large part of Slovenia, which means that our country is rich in underground karst phenomena, including abysses and caves. Caves are very widespread in Slovenia, and can be found almost all across the country, all the way to the Savinja region. When it comes to numbers, Slovenia is among the countries with the highest number of caves, the most famous ones being the Postojna Cave and the Škocjan Caves, which are also known worldwide. Caves are a very important and also a sensitive ecosystem, which is endangered as a result of man’s actions. The caves are subject to few external influences, which can quickly change the surface, meaning the caves are very sensitive to pollution. Cave animals are very vulnerable as well. Most of them are highly specialized as they had to adapt to cave conditions during evolution. Unlike surface animals, they have nowhere to escape when the cave environment changes, so even the slightest change in living conditions can cause a species to die out. The most famous cave inhabitant in Slovenia is the olm (Proteus anguinus anguinus), which lives in the groundwater of the Dinaric Karst, and is therefore considered to be an endemic species. We also know the black olm (Proteus anguinus parkelj), which is an endemic species of the Bela Krajina karst. Both are under legal protection, as their habitat is becoming more polluted day by day. Due to the rich cave culture and the history associated with the cave environment in Slovenia, it is important for students too to be aware of and understand the importance of the cave ecosystem, and to preserve it. 162 students from two Slovenian coastal elementary schools participated in the study. The sample was chosen purposefully. The students’ knowledge was tested through interviews and written tests. The study involved students from grades 1, 4, 7 and 9. In the first part of the test, we asked questions about the cave ecosystem. In the second part, we examined the understanding of the dripstone formation. The last section was focused on the human fish and its adaptations to the cave environment. All three sets of questions were supported by pictorial material. We have found out that the students have a good knowledge of the cave and the conditions in it, and are able to relate this to life in the cave. Many more problems were encountered in the matters related to the formation of the dripstone. Elementary school students, especially younger ones, not only have a lack of knowledge but also quite a few misconceptions about the dripstone formation, since they equate them with ice candles. Through the drawing of olm, students explained their outer structure well, but they were less familiar with their anatomy and physiology. Problems and misconceptions were also encountered in the knowledge of olm's adaptation to the cave environment. The biggest differences in pupils of different ages are in the knowledge of dripstone and the adaptations of the olm to the cave ecosystem.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: cave, dripstone, olm, adaptation, students, knowledge
    Number of Pages: 79
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    izr. prof. dr. Gregor TorkarMentor
    Link to COBISS: https://plus.si.cobiss.net/opac7/bib/peflj/12835913
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 6194
    Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2020 11:48
    Last Modified: 15 Apr 2020 11:48
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/6194

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