It's OK to be Spineless introduces participants to evaluating fresh water quality in a stream, lake, and shoreline. By collecting, identifying, and classifying macroinvertebrates water quality can be rated as excellent, good, fair, or poor according to the environment in which they can survive. Macroinvertebrates are very sensitive to pH, dissolved oxygen levels, water flow, substrates, and pollution in their water world and therefore are good indicators of water quality. The participants learn about their importance in the web of life, for these very small creatures who inhabit our streams and lake bottoms. They make their own collection and viewing devices and sample three different benthic environments. The participants sample the substrate, test temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH of each site. Some of the macroinvertebrates found are placed in the Inland Seas Benthos Aquarium where they can be video taped and studied. To appreciate the diverse mechanisms for survival that these small creatures have the participants work with models and design their own macroinvertebrate.
The participants will be able to determine the quality of water in three distinct environments by using "intriguing" macroinvertebrates as a water quality indicator and explain their critical role in the food and recycling web.
The participants will be able to:
- State that macroinvertebrates make up 95% of all known species.
- Demonstrate the role of macroinvertebrates in the food and recycling web using a movable food web.
- Make macroinvertebrate viewing and sampling equipment.
- Explain why MIVs can be used to determine water quality.
Macroinvertebrates are the largest group of animals on earth making up 95% of all known species. Macroinvertebrates have no vertebrate and can be seen without magnification but magnification reveals fascinating details. Since they are so small, many of them are very sensitive to changes in their habitats in the bottoms of streams, lakes and ponds. Some of them can survive in polluted water while others can thrive only in healthy water. Most macroinvertebrates cannot move very far to avoid pollution so they can provide information about stessors that are not necessarily present at the time of the sample collection. They are the basis of the food web as some of the macroinvertebrates eat each other, some are eaten by small fish which then are eaten by the larger fish and mammals. Benthos dwelling macroinvertebrates are a crucial link in the aquatic food web and as recyclers of detritus or decaying organic material that is found in the Benthos or bottom of lakes, streams and ponds.
Understanding Macroinvertebrates and Their Habitat
How Identifying Macroinvertebrates Helps Determine Water Quality
Understanding Macroinvertebrate Behavior