Winter Pond Teacher s Guide February 2011

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1 Winter Pond Teacher s Guide February 2011 Grades: 5 12 Time: 2 ½ hours Study the limiting factors that affect life in a world with a lid by collecting scientific data through holes in the ice. Students will use microscopes to identify what they discover. Wisconsin Standards: Students will understand that water can exist in three different forms. They use scientific equipment including thermometers, meter sticks, Secchi disks, and Eckmann dredges to collect data. While conducting investigations, students decide what data can be collected to determine the most useful explanations. Focus Concept: Seasonal changes create limiting factors that impact pond ecosystems. Essential Understandings, Processes, and Skills: Understandings: 1. A pond ecosystem is made up of biotic and abiotic factors. 2. A variety of life exists in a winter pond. 3. Plants and animals in the pond are adapted to the winter environment. 4. The growth of living things is impacted by seasonal changes in the amount and duration of available sunlight. 5. Winter conditions create limiting factors (such as changes in DO, sunlight, temperature, water circulation and the exchange of materials) that affect all pond life. 6. A limiting factor is anything that limits the growth, abundance or distribution of the population of a species in an ecosystem. 7. Winter conditions result in animal adaptations to life in the pond. These adaptations include slower metabolisms, hibernation, and life cycle patterns. Process and Skills: 1. Use microscopes to observe and identify pond organisms 2. Use equipment to perform scientific measurements and collect data above and below the ice of a winter pond. 3. Use a taxonomic key to identify organisms that exist in a winter pond. 4. Learn how to interpret data and develop conclusions about a winter pond. Background: Water is one of the few substances on Earth that can be naturally found in all three states: solid, liquid, and gas. One difference between each of these states is density: how close water molecules are to each other. The amount of particles (mass) within a certain space (volume) determines the density of a substance. Water vapor is the least dense of water states because the molecules are furthest apart from each other. The molecules of warm water are less dense (less compact) than cold water. However, ice is less dense than liquid water. The density of water can be influenced by a variety of factors, and many aspects of water density play important roles for life on Earth. Heating and cooling water affect the density of water. Heating water speeds up the movement of water molecules. When their movement is increased, water molecules are less able to stay near each other. As they move faster, the molecules bounce off each other more frequently and move farther apart, decreasing the density of water molecules. 1

2 Therefore, warm water is less dense than cold water. As water cools, water molecules lose heat energy and move more slowly. This allows water molecules to move closer together, becoming more dense. Therefore, cold water will sink and warm water will rise. Since the molecules of cold water are closer together, they can support the less dense warm water above it. Warm water will sit on top of cooler water; where these two layers meet is called a thermocline. But what happens when water gets very cold and turns to ice? Since ice is extremely cold water, one might expect the molecules to move very little and be very close together (very dense). However, one only needs to put ice cubes in a soft drink or go ice-skating to know that ice does not sink; therefore, it cannot be denser than liquid water. The molecules in ice do move very slowly; however, they are farther apart from each other in ice than when in liquid form. This is because when water freezes, the molecules spread out and are arranged in a lattice-like pattern. This formation increases the distance between water molecules, making ice less dense than liquid water. Pressure also increases the density of water. Deep water has greater pressure than surface water because the weight of the water molecules above pushes down on the deeper molecules, forcing them closer together and making them more dense. Temperature also decreases with depth, and cooler water has greater density than warmer water, As the depth of water increases, the density of water increases. A large body of water contains many density levels. Each level provides a different habitat in which certain plants and animals may live. Many factors determine where organisms live sunlight, water temperature, pressure, food supply, etc. People who harvest food from lakes and oceans know this and will drop their nets or fishing lines to the depth (density level) at which they will most likely find the food they are seeking. Lakes in temperate climates benefit from the formation and melting of ice. As water cools in the fall, water molecules slow down and move closer together (becoming more dense). The density of water continues to increase until the temperature reaches 39 degrees F (4 C); this is when the density of water is at its greatest. When the temperature of water falls to 39 degrees F, the water begins to sink. As the temperature of water drops below 39 degrees F, it begins to freeze and molecules become arranged in the lattice-like pattern. As it freezes, ice rises and floats above the denser liquid water. Ice also acts as an insulator, preventing the water beneath from freezing. In the spring, when ice melts and the water temperature rises to 39 degrees F, the water begins to sink. This rise and fall of water, or turnover, circulates nutrients and oxygen throughout the lake. Preparation Activities at School: Riveredge is a partner with you, the teacher, in creating a high-quality educational experience. We depend on you to prepare your students for the inquiry activities they will be doing at Riveredge. Please be sure to cover the following material with your students before your field trip; italicized items are most directly connected to our program. This preparation is essential to meet curriculum goals. We are committed to excellence so if you are unable to meet the minimum expectations of this guide, please contact a Riveredge educator for help at (local) or (metro). Pre-fieldtrip Activities: Denotes important activities that should be done prior to your visit to Riveredge. Denotes additional activities to consider. Familiarize students with the vocabulary words defined at the end of this guide. Familiarize students with the concepts of dissolved oxygen and ph. See attached information for further details. Discuss cold-bloodedness and its relationship to food requirements. Measure temperature differences above and below a layer of snow. Discuss snow as an insulator. What are the implications of this for a winter pond? Build an aquarium. Discuss needs that must be met if fish and other living things are to survive. Find out why ice floats. Discuss what would happen to the world if ice sank instead of floated. (See 2

3 background information from Project WET included in this guide.) Slowly and carefully add colored warm water to ice water. Reverse the experiment and add colored cold water to warm water. Thermal layering should occur. Discuss why this layering phenomenon occurs and how it might affect life in a pond. At Riveredge: Please meet the Riveredge Teacher Naturalists in the main parking lot in front of the Visitor Center. Classes will be divided into smaller groups, each with their own Teacher Naturalist. This is best done upon arrival at Riveredge when the number of students and Teacher Naturalists has been finalized. Please have your students wear name tags. Riveredge will provide all necessary equipment. Each group will be assigned a hole in the ice on the pond. Please make sure that your students dress appropriately for winter weather! We will be outside for a portion of this program. It is important that students wear boots, hats and gloves or mittens for the outdoor portion of this program. We strongly urge you to be firm with your students and leave at school those students who do not come adequately dressed. Students will 1. Perform measurements on physical factors of the pond and will record the data they collect. 2. Collect pond organisms. 3. Record their data on two large charts and will examine and identify the pond organisms they collected. As they explore the abiotic and biotic elements of the pond, students will discover that cold is not the only limiting factor affecting life in the winter pond. Follow-up Activities at School: Choose one of the following activities to complete with your students: 1. Conduct an investigation, similar to that done at the Riveredge pond, of an area around the school. Prepare a chart for that community and compare it to the pond. List similarities and differences. 2. Post the charts prepared at Riveredge. Discuss them and make any additions. 3. Research an aquatic organism and how it is adapted for winter survival. Vocabulary: carnivore An animal that eats other animals. decomposer A plant or fungus that gets its energy from dead plants or animals. dissolved oxygen (D.O.) Amount of oxygen gas contained in water, usually given in parts per million (ppm). It is a measure of the ability of water to support aquatic organisms. Water with very low dissolved oxygen content (less than 5 ppm), which is usually caused by too much or improperly treated organic wastes, does not support fish and similar organisms. ecosystem All of the living and non-living things that interact together in an area. food chain The system in which living things eat or are eaten by other living things. food web A complex feeding system comprised of linked food chains in a particular ecosystem. herbivore An animal that eats plants. limiting factor Physical or biological influences in the life of an organism which affect its well being and may even result in death. omnivore An animal that eats both plants and other animals. ph The measuring unit to describe the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. photosynthesis The process in which green plants use sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to make sugar and oxygen. producer An organism that makes its food through the process of photosynthesis, usually a green plant. Resources: Andrews, W., "Fresh Water Ecology", Prentice Hall, Caduto, M., "Pond and Brook, A Guide to Nature in Freshwater Environments", University Press, Couchman, J. et al., "Snow and Ice", Mine Publications, Marchand, P., "Life in the Cold: An Introduction to Winter Ecology",

4 Pringle, L. & Adkins, J., "Chains, Webs and Pyramids", Crowell, Reid, G.K., "Pond Life", Golden Press, Using, R.P., "The Life of Rivers and Streams", McGraw Hill, Web Sites: 1. This 3 min. you-tube video describes and shows the phenomenal winter adaptation of how wood frogs can go from completely frozen to fully functioning within hours. 2. This article describes how wood frogs survive in winter in Alaska. There are also internal links to many other articles related to Alaskan ecology. 3. A brief description of seasonal changes in a pond. 4

5 DISSOLVED OXYGEN REQUIREMENTS FOR NATIVE FISH AND OTHER AQUATIC LIFE D.O. in parts per million Cold-water organisms, including salmon and trout (below 68 o ) Spawning... 7 ppm and above Growth and well-being... 6 ppm and above Warm-water organisms including game fish such as bass, crappie (above 68 o ) Growth and well-being... 5 ppm and above TEMPERATURE RANGES (APPROXIMATE) REQUIRED FOR GROWTH OF CERTAIN ORGANISMS Temperature Examples of life Greater than 68 o (warm water) Less than 68 o (cold water) Upper range (55-68 o ) Lower range (less than 55 o ) Much plant life, many fish diseases. Most bass, crappie, bluegill, carp, catfish, caddisfly. Some plant life, some fish diseases. Salmon, trout, Stonefly, mayfly, caddisfly, water beetles, striders Trout, caddisfly, stonefly, mayfly

6 ph Requirements for Native Fish and Other Aquatic Wildlife Aquatic animals cannot tolerate water that is too acid or too basic (alkaline). Few animals are adapted to the acid water found in a bog. most acidic neutral most basic (alkaline) Bacteria Plants (algae, rooted, etc.) Carp, suckers, catfish, some insects Bass, bluegill, crappie Snails, clams, mussels Largest variety of animals (trout, mayfly nymphs, stonefly nymphs, caddisfly larvae)

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