Wetlands are everywhere in Australia and are important ecosystems.
They act as filters, nurseries, habitats, food and prevent erosion.
Our education resource is great to use in the classroom before you visit Kings Park or at a wetland near you. Find out some useful tips and tools to help investigate the health of a wetland using macroinvertebrates.
Macroinvertebrates are small invertebrates found in wetlands. These include juvenile stages of many insects; like dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, caddisflies, water beetles and more. These animals have different sensitivities to changes in the environment, so the number and type of macro-invertebrates in the ecosystem can tell us how healthy it is.
John shares some tips to investigate the health of a wetland ecosystem. Watch this short video filmed here in our Kings Park Education wetland to learn some useful sampling techniques.
Would you like to learn even more about Australian wetlands? Read 'Discovering wetlands in Australia – a primary classroom resource' by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities (Australian Government).
Discover what lives in the water! Follow the instructions below to make an underwater viewer, then download the National Waterbug Blitz app. With your underwater viewer and the app, discover the diversity of macroinvertebrates that live in your local wetland.
- Clear round plastic bottle with lid
- Masking tape
- Cut a viewing window. Cut a rectangular shaped window out of the plastic bottle to create a viewing window.
- Tape up. Tear strips of masking tape to stick along the edge of the cut-out window.
- Observe. Use viewer to make observations of macroinvertebrates.
A Secchi disc is used to measure turbidity in water which is a measure of how clear the water is. Turbidity or 'cloudiness' can be caused by a multitude of factors such as suspended particles, microorganisms or dead organic matter floating through the water column.
- Recycled white plastic lid
- Nail and hammer
- Five metres of string
- Weights (tap washers or fishing sinker size one)
- Black permanent marker pen
- Cut the lip off the plastic lid.
- Draw a cross through the middle of the lid and colour in two of the quadrants black.
- Use a nail and hammer to punch a hole in the middle of the lid. Thread the string through the hole and tie a large knot to hold the string in place. Now tie small knots every 30 cm along the string.
- Tie the weight onto the string on the underside of the Secchi disc. Test the disc to see if it sinks. Add more weights if required.
- Now head to your local wetland to see how clean the water is by using your Secchi disc to measure the turbidity.
To measure turbidity, lower the disc slowly into the water counting the knots as you go. Record the number of knots it takes to reach the point where you can no longer see the disc. This is how far you can see through the water column. Record in centimetres or metres depending on the depth of water body.
With your new skills and knowledge visit a site near your school to participate in a citizen science program.
The 'National Waterbug Blitz' is an Australian wide waterway monitoring event.
Each year, Australians are encouraged to become ‘citizen scientists’ and investigate how healthy their local waterways and wetlands are, simply by exploring and identifying macroinvertebrates. Students enter the number and type of macroinvertebrates they find into the app and help with real science. Download the app today.
Watch this short movie presented by Kings Park Education Officer Rickeeta Walley. Rickeeta is a proud Whadjuk Noongar yok (woman) with connections to seven of the 14 Noongar nations. She has a passion for Aboriginal language preservation and education.
We would love to hear from you and your class. Share your photos and findings with us via social media using the hashtag #STEMActionInKingsPark.