A CIESE Collaborative Project

Will James Middle School, Billings, Montana

Mrs. Maddens Students

7th Grade Life Science

Periods: 1, 3,5,6,8

30 April 2008

Purpose: Do classrooms sampling fresh water sources around the world find the same (macro invertebrate) organisms?

Research: (prior knowledge) Our class will be collecting samples from Wills Marsh at the Conservation Education Center. We visited this site last fall, and found many different living and dead things. We compiled a table from what we had identified and recorded in October.

Macro invertebrates

Fish

Birds

Reptiles

Amphibians

Mammals

Leeches

Fathead minnows

Great blue heron

turtle

Bull frog

deer

Grasshoppers


Hairy woodpecker

Bull snake

Leopard frog

squirrel

Dragonflies


Bald eagle

Garter snake



Worms


Kingfisher




Insect larvae


Great horned owl




Backswimmer beetle


American coot




Freshwater shrimp


Tree swallow




Wills Marsh was first established 8 years ago and has undergone much change. It was originally stocked with plains minnows and fathead minnows. Many native trees, grasses, and shrubs have been established over the years, and planting continues today. Many animal species continue to move in.

The Conservation Education Center originated as the dream of Dr. Norm Schoenthal, a local educator and biologist, who envisioned a place where people of all ages, but mainly children, could come to learn about, experience, and appreciate the unique beauty and science of several different biomes. Norm has carefully selected plants that can withstand Montanas climates, and he visits the center at least twice daily to water the transplanted vegetation by drip line. Along with other dedicated environmentalists, Norm readily welcomes all who are willing to join in the project.

Like the land, the project has developed from the Yellowstone River Watch to Yellowstone River Parks. Classroom visits to the center, along with support personnel, and equipment are arranged through the educational director of Montana Audubon, Paul Belanger. All work done at the center is done by volunteers, many of whom, as my students, work directly with Norm.

Hypothesis: We will find more organisms and different organisms from what most of the other classrooms will find.

Even though our pond is a reclaimed gravel pit, we are in a northern temperate zone that experiences a large range in temperatures. Our area may also be less developed than we believe are the areas of most other classrooms. Our city of Billings is the largest city in Montana and has only a population of about 100,000 people. Our area is visited by many migrating species. Resident organisms are able to withstand very large changes in temperature, even within a single day!

Experiment: Our 113 students worked to collect and identify macro invertebrates from Wills Marsh at the Conservation Education Center over three days, April 28, 29, and 30th. Collection samples were taken from:

  • The shallow water, near the ponds edge
  • The surface of the pond
  • The debris from the bottom of the pond

Materials:

  • Canoes with paddles and life jackets.
  • Buckets
  • Seining nets
  • thermometer
  • Dishpans
  • Turkey basters
  • Eye droppers
  • Ice cube trays
  • 3 labeled collection tubs: ponds edge, ponds surface, ponds bottom
  • Plastic cups
  • Watch glasses
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Stereomicroscopes
  • Compound microscopes
  • Dichotomous key for pond life
  • Insect and invertebrate field guides
  • Metric measuring tools
  • Paper and pencils
  • Wireless computer lab

Procedure:

  1. Create a data table
  2. Record air and water temperatures, and wind direction and approximate wind speed each day of collection
  3. Discuss safety
  4. Decide from which area of the pond each group will collect
    • Ponds Edge:

i. Walk or canoe along shoreline and collect seaweed and small rocks from along ponds edges using a seining net.

ii. Place samples in bucket, then empty into tub labeled: ponds edge

    1. Ponds Surface:

i. Paddle canoe away from ponds edge and skim surface using a seining net

ii. Place these samples in bucket, and then empty into tub labeled: ponds surface.

    1. Ponds Bottom:

i. Paddle canoe away from ponds edge and collect samples from along the bottom of the pond using a seining net

ii. Place these samples into bucket, and then empty it into the tub labeled: ponds bottom.

  1. Perform a short field analysis using dishpans, turkey basters, ice cube trays and a dichotomous key of pond life.
    • Dump part of a collection tub into a dishpan
    • Using a turkey baster, catch organisms and place them into separate cubes of an ice cube tray.
    • Work to identify as many different organisms as possible
    • Record in journal
    • Release identified organisms
  2. Transport tubs of unidentified organisms to classroom for further identification.
  3. Use a plastic cup to scoop out a sample from a tub and take it back to your table.
  4. Use a turkey baster or eyedropper to catch all of the organisms in your cup and separate them into different cubes of ice cube trays.
  5. Move organisms to watch glasses, as needed, to observe them from different angles.
  6. Use hand lenses and microscopes to see details
  7. Use a dichotomous key to identify each organism.
  8. Get a consensus from another classmate for each organism you identify.
  9. Record the name of each organism you identify into your data table and make a tally mark for each member of its species you identify.
  10. Dump your identified organisms into the return bucket.
  11. Repeat steps 6 through 11, being careful to document from which tub each sample is taken.
  12. The last group to visit the Center returns all samples of organisms.
  13. Rinse all equipment, and clean area.
  14. Wash hands and arms with soap and clean water.
  15. Using the wireless lab, enter data into individual lab reports stored in each students file on the schools server.
  16. Add to your data section, other organisms seen at the pond
  17. Print a copy for the teacher.
  18. Teacher compiles data and submits a class report

Data: Class Results

Macro invertebrates

Ponds Edge

Ponds Surface

Ponds Bottom

Mayfly larva

264

33

15

Riffle beetle larva

1

0

0

Tubifex worm

9

7

4

Roly-poly

8

0

0

Darkling beetle

1

0

0

Threadworm

2

4

10

Water mite

26

20

21

Midge larva

25

15

15

Damsel fly

14

11

8

Crawling water beetle

0

1

2

Water boatman

4

0

0

Fairy shrimp

3

2

4

Diving beetle

11

0

0

Springtail

5

2

1

Red worm

0

1

1

Gilled snail

6

0

0

Orb snail

19

0

4

nematode

13

10

11

backswimmer

5

11

6

Dragonfly larva

7

1

4

Leech

1

3

4

Amphipod (scud)

15

6

8

Water daphnia

2

3

3

Marsh treader

2

4

0

Pouch snail

0

3

3

Predacious diving beetle

2

2

1

Water scavenger beetle

0

2

0

Water penny

2

2

2

Stonefly larva

6

2

0

Caddis fly larva

2

0

3

Giant water beetle

3

0

0

Aquatic sowbug

0

0

1

planaria

2

0

0

Water scorpion nepa

1

0

1

Mosquito pupa

0

1

0

Water strider

0

4

0

Seed shrimp

0

0

1

Other documented animals in or near the pond:

Fish

Birds

Reptiles

Amphibians

Mammals

Invertebrates

Plains minnows

Great blue heron

Painted turtles

Northern leopard frog

River otter

grasshoppers

Fathead minnows

Mallard ducks

(snake skin)


Muskrat

Huntsman spider


Canada geese

Plains garter snake


Yellow-bellied marmot

Roly-poly


Tree swallows



Prairie dogs

Ladybugs


American coot



Deer (footprints & skeletal remains)

Mayflies (on waternewly hatched)


Kingfisher



(skunk or raccoon footprints)

Tiger swallowtail butterfly


Great horned owls w/chicks



White-tailed deer

White cabbage moth


Ring-necked pheasant




centipedes


robins




cricket


osprey




Wood tick


wood ducks




slug






Click beetle






Field cricket






Gel eggs






Pyralid caterpillar






houseflies

Temperature and Wind Conditions during Data Collection

Day

Monday 4/28/2008

Tuesday 4/29/2008

Wednesday 4/30/2008

Air Temp oC

20

22

17

Water Temp oC

12

17

15

Wind Dir./mph

NW/15

NNW/5

NW/10-23

The samples we brought back to the room needed to be identified the same day by later classes, as we discovered they were eating each other and in the process of emerging as adult insects.

A major mayfly hatch was in progress at the pond. Some of the mayflies even hatched in our classroom and students got to hold them on their fingers as the new insects wings straightened and dried, and flew out the open window! Students were excited about holding the insects and about the insects well-being! Bug fears were temporarily set aside. (These mayflies are known as green drakes among fly fishing enthusiasts!)

We are currently working on classification. We are interested to see what other classrooms have found so we can analyze all the data and make a conclusion.

Analysis:

Conclusion:

Bibliography:

Montana Animal Field Guide

http://fieldguide.mt.gov/

Field Guide to Insects and Invertebrates