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Summer SAVY Session 5, Day 3, Aquatic Ecology

Posted by on Wednesday, July 19, 2023 in blog, SAVY.

Rainy days and Wednesdays… As y’all know the weather this morning did not cooperate. We were delayed getting started and when we did start class was held in the dorm. We discussed continued our discussion of ecosystems with an emphasis on how the way we use land impacts water quality and aquatic ecosystems. The students considered the differences between forested land, farmland, and urban/suburban areas.

  • How do these different landscapes impact the water cycle?
  • What happens to rainfall?
  • Does it mostly end up in the ground or flowing over the ground?
  • What can happen to the quality of water as it flows over the land?

Next, we did research on the more common organisms found in the Chesapeake Bay watershed breaking up into four groups: producers (plants/algae/cyanobacteria), invertebrates, fish, and mammals and birds. They noted where these organisms live in the ecosystem and where they fit in the food chain/web.

After lunch, we had a guest from the Cumberland River Compact who educated us on water quality issues in Nashville and the wider Cumberland River watershed. We learned about point and non-point sources of water pollution and discussed how pollution affects aquatic systems. She brought preserved specimens of invertebrate and smaller vertebrate animals found in local streams and we learned how their sensitivity to water pollution varies, essentially the absence of certain organisms indicated a stream that is compromised. The students asked many good questions and made solid contributions to the discussion. After the presentation two of the students worked on a large drawing of Chesapeake Bay that will be labeled with organisms, forming a food web, and land uses impacting the bay. At the same time, we scanned the Delmarva peninsula and found that there are many long sheds. These sheds are full of chickens, a lot of chickens. In a typical year, more than 500 million chickens are raised on the Delmarva peninsula. We talked about the impacts this activity can have on water quality.

Tomorrow we will dive deeper into the phenomena of eutrophication and wonder if this could be one of the reasons for the decline of sea trout. I hope they told you about their homework. If not, then maybe tonight.