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Invert Investigator

What is an aquatic macroinvertebrate? What are the differences between them? Why are they important? What do they do in addition to providing food for fish?

Students answer these questions and more through exploring the creek ecosystem. It is home to macroinvertebrates and other organisms, which are all integral components of the complex aquatic food chain.

WA Science Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs): 1.1, 1.3, 2.1, 3.1

Finding macroinvertebrates in a sample from the stream

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Investigate macroinvertebrates found in the stream
  • Describe functional feeding groups and their role in watershed ecology
  • Discuss the concept of “indicator species”
  • List sensitive and tolerant species and explain how changes in water quality can impact those most sensitive and thus, the aquatic system
  • Recommend ways to maintain and restore watersheds for macroinvertebrate fauna
  • Analyze data collected from the field (at the site and in classroom post work activities)

Concepts

  • Indicator species
  • Aquatic insect metamorphosis (life cycle stages)
  • Ecosystem functions of macroinvertebrates

Classroom Materials

Classroom Pre-work Activities:

  • Macroinvertebrate Mayhem (PDF)– Students will look at how tolerance to water quality conditions vary among macroinvertebrate organisms and how population diversity provides insight into the health of an ecosystem.
  • More Than a Bug (PDF)– Students will understand the differences between complete vs. incomplete metamorphosis.
  • Right Body for the Job (PDF)– Students will learn about the four benthic macroinvertebrate functional feeding groups and the adaptations and niches of each feeding type.
  • The River Continuum (PDF)– Students illustrate a stream from headwaters to mouth, and identify the vegetation, macroinvertebrates (based on functional feeding group), and fish that are likely to be present in various sections.

Field Day Materials

 

“The first thing I did was to feel, raccoonlike, with the tips of my fingers the soil of the bank just below the water’s edge. I listened for the sound of water on the outer bar. I observed the hunt of the caddisfly.”- Barry Lopez

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