Coastal Habitats & Species—Salmon Studies

Summary: Through the study salmon habitats, students learn the importance of watersheds to salmon, and how salmon are connected to both inland watersheds and the ocean.

Concepts to teach: Adaptations, survival, migration, freshwater vs. saltwater habitats

Goals: Students will learn about the unique life cycle and migration habits of salmon and how they find their way back to their freshwater breeding grounds.

Standards:
6.2L.2, 6.3S.1, 7.3S.1, 8.3S.1

Specific Objectives:

  1. Describe the importance of watersheds to salmon life cycles.
  2. Identify adaptations that enable salmon to inhabit and navigate watersheds.
  3. Define the term “anadromous”

Activity Links and Resources:

  • Salmon Watch curriculum—Lessons in Unit 4 cover salmon anatomy, life cycles, adaptations and habitat requirements.
  • 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 several lessons having to do with salmon, including:
    • Riffles and Pools, p. 357—“Students will apply concepts learned about habitat needs of salmonids during their life cycle by completing a work sheet analyzing riffles and pools.”
    • Home Wet Home, p. 393—“Students will recognize the habitat components necessary for salmonids in a stream, and analyze and describe how each stream structure contributes to salmonid habitat needs.”
    • See the chapter Field Investigations for protocols of complimentary outdoor investigations.
  • 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 data sheets students can use to assess the health of salmon habitats.
    • StreamWebs Data sheets
      • Water Quality
      • Riparian & Aquatic Survey
      • Riparian Transect
      • Photopoint Monitoring
      • Streamflow
      • Canopy Cover Survey
      • Soil Survey
      • Pebble Count
    • Post results on SteamWebs and seek out similar data collected by others
    • Identify habitats that are suitable for salmon
  • Salmon dissection resources available in the Elementary level Salmon Studies topic guide
  • Visit the Oregon Hatchery Research Center or a hatchery closer to your school
    • Do the self-guided OHRC Quest, which is a clue-directed interpretive hunt created by 8th graders at Crestview Heights School in Waldport
    • Make your own Quest or other interpretive guide that helps the public learn about salmon and salmon habitat

Assessment:

  • Post sampling data on StreamWebs and seek out similar data collected by others.
  • Determine whether your study site is suitable for salmon, and use data to explain why or why not.