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Science - Earth Science
Standard 4 Objective 2
1 class periods of 70 minutes each
In this exercise, students will identify and observe biotic factors in a riparian ecosystem, which is the green strip of vegetation alongside a waterbody; they will measure the types of vegetation at the waters edge, the function of plants as ground cover and canopy cover, and observe the wildlife in the area.
* 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 observe and list biotic factors that affect a given ecosystem.
Riparian areas are the transition zone between aquatic and terrestrial systems. The plants in this zone depend on high water tables and flooding patterns associated with the aquatic systems. Riparian zones cover a very small area in a watershed, but are extremely important.
Riparian Zone Functions:
For more background information, see:
Because there are four sets of measurements, we strongly recommend reviewing the actual measuring procedures with the class before going into the field.
Greenline sampling instructions
|Ground Cover Group
Ground cover sampling instructions
Ground cover worksheet
|Canopy Cover Group
Canopy cover sampling instructions
Canopy cover worksheet
Wildlife observation instructions
Field guides (optional)
Applying the Data:
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.