Studying macro invertebrates in ponds and streams to check water quality

Kyle Campbell teaches science at Westerville North High School. After attending the summer two-day Experiencing Tech in Ag workshop, he used these Water quality lessons with his students. He shares about their findings:

My Ecology and Zoology students used d-nets and kick seines to collect macro invertebrates on two separate days at our pond land lab facility. In the thirty minute collecting time each day, the average group score was 16, which grades out to medium water quality. Next, we went down below Hoover Reservoir and repeated the same sampling techniques.

The students were blown away by the ease of catching a stonefly, a mayfly, and even an alderfly. Water penny beetles abounded, along with aquatic sowbugs. The light bulb clicked on for most of the students when they understood that a clean water source running downstream with riffles was going to yield a high water score with many Type I macro invertebrates. Student inferences ranged from a dam that restricts the size of boat engines to the buffer zones which now line the parking lots and Sunbury Road.

My students love this type of hands-on learning! The Ecology class was studying water quality and how you can tell if it is a clean water source, while the Zoology class was studying the same idea but from a different angle: what phylums, classes, and families of organisms would be present in polluted vs. non-polluted waters.

My objective for all students involved is to understand that only certain aquatic conditions can support certain arthropod nymphs, naiads, or larvae. Therefore, they should understand that a Type I organism only lays eggs in pristine waters, whereas a Type III may lay its eggs in radiator fluid and gasoline water and the eggs will hatch.

The workshop taught me that the earth is connected, from the geologic to the aquatic and marine. Terrestrial ecosystems and farms and home-owners can affect aquatic and marine ecosystems depending on the chemical composition of fungicide, herbicide, pesticide, and fertilizer applied to the land.