Barwon River Ecosystem Health Field Trip Teaching and Learning Resource
Barwon River Ecosystem Health This resource has been developed to highlight the pedagogical possibilities of undertaking field work along one or a number of points along the Barwon River in Geelong, Victoria. The field trip can assist in the application of field work techniques as well as address the topic content for VCE Biology Unit 2: ‘Organisms and their Environment’.
The students will be investigating the biotic and abiotic factors that indicate the health of the river ecosystem.
The Barwon River flows from the Otway Ranges along the coast of Southern Victoria and flows into the ocean at Barwon Heads. The river system flows through Geelong, with many of Geelong’s storm water drains flowing directly into the river system. • In the past the river was used as a dump for toxic wastes and heated water from leather tanners and other factories.
It is important to point out that this resource can be adapted and implemented along any water way close to your school...... It can also be adapted or simplified for use with middle years SOSE and Science units..........
Students study....... • The relationships between living things and their environment • Operation of biotic and abiotic factors in the bioshpere and how factors influence the organisms that live there • Ecosystems as self sustaining systems in which energy flows and matter is cycled between living and non living components of environment • How features possessed by organisms affect their fitness and reproductive success in relation to their habitat • Consider how species are affected by changes in environmental condition, whether natural or human induced • Changes that have taken place in selected ecosystems • How ecological principles can be applied to conserve natural systems and restore damaged ones to ensure sustainability of ecoystems • Investigate how technologies are being used to monitor and manage natural ecosystems and those developed to provide resources for humans
Unit 2: Area of Study 1Adaptations of Organisms Key Knowledge • Diversity of living things • Biotic and abioticfactors • Techniques to monitor environmental change • Species adaptations to environmental change
Unit 2: Area of Study 2Dynamic Ecosystems Key Knowledge • Environmental requirements of Ecosystems • Components of Ecosystems • Population studies • Communities of organisms • Techniques for monitoring and maintaining ecosystems • Survival within ecosystems • Bioaccumulation of toxins in food webs • The variety and effects of regular and short term environmental change and irregular change on ecosystems • Longer term environmental change and its effects on present day global distribution of organisms • Human induced environmental change
Unit 2 Key Skills • Investigate and enquire scientifically • Apply biological understandings • Select and use equipment appropriate for investigation • Evaluate experimental procedures and reliability of data • Collect, process and record information systematically • Draw conclusions consistent with the questions under investigation and evidence obtained • Communicate biological information and understandings
Unit 2 Area of Study 2 Dynamic ecosystems Outcome 2 Students conduct and report on a field investigation exploring the interactions of living things in their environment and explain how ecosystems change over time.
Outcome 2: Field Work • Identify components of a freshwater ecosystem • Examine relationships between organisms and their non-living environments • Use appropriate field work techniques and equipment to monitor the environment • Know how to record appropriate data and interperate that data • Understand safety requirements when working in the field
Outcome 2 Tasks • Classify organisms into trophiclevels • Construct energy flow pyramids • Understand how ecosystems change over time due to natural and human influences • Use a computer program to model the effects of human induced changes, such as pollution on the freshwater ecosystem.
Discipline Based LearningScience • Science knowledge and understanding • Science at work • Respect for the living and non living environment • To create engaged citizens who are capable of engaging in informed debate about science and its applications • Emphasis on the role of Science and the work of scientists of addressing issues of sustainability at a local and global level.
Interdisciplinary Learning • Communication • Use of technology • Thinking process and inquiry • Reasoning, process and inquiry • Reflection, evaluation and metacognition
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) Links
ACARA • Is organised around three interrelated strands: science understanding, science inquiry skills; and science as a human endeavour • Provides the basis for learning science that engages students in meaningful ways and prepares students to use science for life and active citizenship so that they can function effectively in a scientifically and technologically advanced society . • Provides a foundation for specific learning pathways leading to science and engineering courses at university and technical and vocational education and training.
Application of Field Work Techniques The following information details how to undertake the investigation on the health of the Barwon River Ecosystem at a chosen point along the rivers edge. It would be beneficial to undertake this investigation at two points along the river; one in an area with little human interference and another closer to a built up area.
Some Points on Field Safety.... • When choosing the sample site, ensure it has easy access during all weather conditions. • Check that the stream bank is stable and not too slippery. • Inform someone of where you will be sampling and for how long • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear depending on the weather (e.g. Hat, warm clothing, shoes with a good grip) • Ensure you have adequate sun protection (e.g. Sunscreen, hat, long sleeved clothes) • Students should not sample or test without supervision and instruction • Be aware of the natural environment when working at your chosen site (e.g. Snakes, holes, prickly vegetation) • Do not put yourself or others at risk of falling into unkown water and beware of stream currents and undertows when sampling macro invertebrates • Do not drink the water from where you are testing as it may be polluted and ensure to wash hands after being in the field • Be aware of the safety requirements of chemicals that are being used (MSDS of chemicals should be taken in the field kit with you) and ensure that chemical waste is disposed of appropriately (i.e. DO NOT release to environment under any circumstances)
Materials Required..... 1. Water quality monitoring results sheets 2. Water quality testing kit and instructions - pH strips - Conductivity meter and calibration standard - Dissolved oxygen probe - Turbidity tubes - Reactive Phosphorus kit - Thermometers - Sample containers (i.e. Bucket, bottle) - Waste container - Safety equipment (e.g. Gloves, safety glasses, first aid kit) 3. Macro-invertebrate sweep sampling Equipment - D-frame net - Tweezers and plastic pipettes - White tray to empty sample for sorting - Ice cube trays - Magnifying glass to help with identification - Macro-invertebrate reference books - Macro – invertebrate sensitivity charts
Living and non-living components Barwon River Ecosystem Reeds Tiger Snake Native mouse Black Shouldered Kite pH Algae Mayfly nymph Light Rabbit Fungi Ant Soil Water boatmen Wood White Butterfly Temperature Pacific Black Duck Red Wattlebird Gang Gang Cockatoo Human Pelican Water Flowering Eucalyptus Freshwater shrimp Spotted Marsh Frog Fox Oxygen Huntsman Spider Fish Grass Salinity Mosquito Platypus Oxygen Rainbow Lorikeet Wallaby Phosphorous Latham’s Snipe
Habitat Survey The condition of the vegetation in and around the waterway provides a good indication of the likely condition of the aquatic environment, contributes to water quality and provides an important source of food, shelter and breeding habitat for aquatic and terrestrial organisms. Use the following descriptions to assist in evaluating the condition of the habitat around your chosen site. The habitat survey should be undertaken on both sides of the waterway, 50 meters upstream and 50 meters downstream from your site. In addition, photos or sketches to accompany the survey would be complimentary.
Habitat Survey Bank Vegetation (Terrestrial) Bank vegetation refers to trees, shrubs, grasses etc, growing on the bank. Note canopy (the overhanging tree cover). This vegetation provides food and shelter for terrestrial organisms as well as aquatic organisms in the form of fallen leaves, twigs and branches. Verge Vegetation (Terrestrial) The stream verge is different from the bank. For the habitat survey the verge is considered the section of land up to 30 meters from the waters edge and can be judged by similar vegetation cover as the bank vegetation.Consider erosion. Streams naturally erode, usually on bends (meanders). However, an unstable stream results in continuous erosion along its channel. If the stream has been stabilised with concrete banks, the stream will obviously be stable with little erosion, but should not be ranked as highly as it has no vegetation cover, or it is greatly reduced. In-stream cover (Aquatic) In-stream cover includes snags, logs, rocks and plants. Consider floating, submerged, emergent and sedges. It provides aquatic animals with food, shelter from predators and the current. Plants are important as their presence has a direct effect on the available oxygen in the water. Protruding snags provide roosting sites for birds.
ABIOTIC FACTORS Using the instructions and methods in the Water Testing Kit investigate the abiotic factors of your chosen site. Record the results in the table below.:
Abiotic Factors Rating Table Use this table to interpret your abiotic factor results.
Macro-invertebrate Survey List the names of macro-invertebrates found into the appropriate columns based on their sensitivity to pollution to give an indication of the rivers condition.
Student Designed Report • Students should present information from the field trip in a scientific report including: • Introduction • Aim • Hypothesis • Materials • Method • Results • Discussion • Conclusion
Barwon River Ecosystem Students can investigate the following questions relating to organisms found in the Barwon River ecosystem (refer to living and non-living components list). 1. Am I a producer or consumer? 2. If I am a consumer, what order consumer am I?(1st, 2nd, 3rd etc) 3. Which trophic level do I occupy? 4. Am I a herbivore, carnivore or omnivore? 5. What living factors affect my survival? 6. What non-living factors affect my survival? 7. What adaptations do I have to allow me to survive in my environment (structural, functional, behavioural)?
Think about this..... How would the organisms found in the Barwon River Ecosystem cope if they were introduced to the upper regions of the Snowy River in the Snowy Mountains? Imagine that Climate Change gradually affected the Snowy River over thousands of years, and the ecosystem ended up similar to that of the Barwon River today. What do you think may have happened to the organisms originally found in the Snowy River? What may happen to the organisms if Climate Change affects the ecosystem in the next 50 years?