Coastal Habitats & Species—Macroinvertebrates

Summary: Students watch a student-produced animated video about macroinvertebrates and stream health.

Concepts to teach: Aquatic habitats and species natural history

Goals: Students explain the importance of benthic macroinvertebrates and how their presence or absence can indicate stream health.

3.2L.1, 4.2L.1, 5.2L.1

Specific Objectives:

  1. Define the term benthic macroinvertebrate and identify common characteristics and examples.
  2. Describe the role of macroinvertebrates in stream ecosystems.
  3. Explain how macroinvertebrates can be an indicator for stream health.

Activity Links and Resources:

  • StreamWebs—This student stewardship network from OSU Extension provides open-source, web-based tools for watershed data management, analysis, and networking for teachers and students. Includes a data sheet for assessing stream health through macroinvertebrate sampling.
  • The Ponds and Wetlands Exploration lesson plan from the Oregon 4H Center outlines outdoor aquatic sampling and is based on the Project WET “Water Canaries” lesson
    • Visit the Oregon 4H Center for a field trip
    • Apply the lesson plan to a pond and wetland near your school
  • The 550-page Stream Scene curriculum is available in .pdf format on the ODFW website, and covers a variety of watershed topics. The chapter Aquatic Organisms contains two macroinvertebrate lessons:
    • Build a Bug, p. 319—“Students work in small teams to build an aquatic insect model out of simple materials.”
    • Water Wigglers, p. 335—“Students collect material from microhabitats within a determined reach of stream. Invertebrates are taken from these samples and sorted into feeding groups. A count is kept of each feeding group on the data sheet and the percentage of each group/habitat is calculated.”