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Science - Earth Science
Standard 4 Objective 2
1 class periods of 70 minutes each
In this exercise, students will collect macroinvertebrates from a stream site, sort and identify them, and use their findings to identify current and past impacts to the quality of the water. They will also make predictions of how the impacts to the water quality contributed to the localized extinction of some types of macroinvertebrates.
* For information on equipment for loan or for purchase, contact USU Water Quality Extension at (435) 797-2580 or www.extension.usu.edu/waterquality
To make inferences about the quality and/or quantity of freshwater using macroinvertebrate data collected from local water systems. To explain the factors that contribute to the extinction of a species.
Aquatic macroinvertebrates (insects and other organisms that live in streams and ponds) display a wide range of adaptations to different aquatic conditions. Some types of macroinvertebrates are extremely tolerant of changes in temperature, flow, food or even the presence of pollutants, while other types are so sensitive to these changes that they may die or move to other areas. In this activity, students identify the macroinvertebrates in a stream. By noting which types are most abundant and which of the sensitive species are missing, we can learn a lot about present and past conditions of the stream.
For more background on macroinvertebrates in streams, see the Macroinvertebrate section (pdf) of the Utah Stream Team manual.
NOTE: If you have already done the activity Who Lives in the Water? review the classroom activity with the students, then skip to step 6 of the field activity.
Applying the Data:
Have the students compile and graph their data results. For example:
Lesson plan authors: Andree Walker and Nancy Mesner (Utah State University Water Quality Extension)
This curriculum was made possible through funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Utah State University Extension.
Additional resources can be found on the USU Stream Side Science 9th Grade Curriculum web page.