Aquatic Ecology Study Guide

Aquatic Ecology Presentation with DENR’s Anine Rosse!

Aquatic Ecology Expectations

Students are expected to:

  1. Know the processes and phases for each part of the water cycle and understand the water cycle’s role in soil nutrient erosion, salinization of agricultural lands, and climatic influences.
  2. Understand the concept and components of a watershed and be able to identify stream orders and watershed boundaries.
  3. Know the features of a healthy watershed and an unhealthy watershed.
  4. Know how to perform and interpret chemical water quality tests and understand why aquatic organisms and water quality is affected by the physical, chemical and biological conditions of the water.
  5. Understand the dependence of all organisms on one another and how energy and matter flow within an aquatic ecosystem.
  6. Understand the concept of carrying capacity for a given aquatic ecosystem, and be able to discuss how competing water usage may affect the ability of the system to sustain wildlife, forestry and anthropogenic needs.
  7. Identify common, rare, threatened and endangered aquatic species as well as Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) through the use of a key.
  8. Know how to perform biological water quality monitoring tests and understand why these tests are used to assess and manage aquatic environments.
  9. Identify common stream organisms and use Pollution Tolerance Indices to evaluate stream health.
  10. Identify aquatic and wetland environments based on their physical, chemical and biological characteristics.
  11. Know characteristics of different types of aquifers, and understand historical trends and threats to groundwater quantity and quality.
  12. Understand societal benefits and ecological functions of wetlands.
  13. Understand the functions and values of riparian zones and be able to identify riparian zone areas.
  14. Understand how education programs and enforcement agencies are working together to protect aquatic habitats and preventing those who use our waterways from inadvertently transporting Aquatic Nuisance Species ANS from one river to another.
  15. Interpret major federal laws and methods used to protect water quality (i.e. surface and ground water). Utilize this information to propose management decisions that would improve the quality of water in a given situation.
  16. Be familiar with the Federal and state agencies that provide oversight of water resources, and understand that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a useful and important tool in the management of water resources.
  17. Identify global and local sources of point and non-point source pollution and be able to discuss methods to reduce point and non-point source pollution.
  18. Understand the interaction of competing uses of water for water supply, hydropower, navigation, wildlife, recreation, waste assimilation, irrigation, and industry.
  19. Know the meaning of water conservation, and understand why it is important every time you turn on a faucet.

(From Area 4 Envirothon site, Adapted from 2015 Cannon National Envirothon Website – Aquatics Competition Key Points)

Resources Provided by Anine Rosse from DENR

Aquatic Ecology PowerPoint 

2017 Fishing Handbook:  2017FishingHandbook_APP

Guide to Common Fishes:  GuidetoCommonFishes-lores

Identification Guide to Freshwater Microinvertebrates:  MacroKey_Complete

Aquatic Ecology PowerPoint:  Aquatic Ecology PowerPoint AR–DENR

Suggestions for preparing for the Aquatic Ecology portion of the Envirothon competition.

  1. Make contact with your local conservation district and Natural Resource Conservation Service.  This federal agency used to be called the Soil and Water Service.
  2. Complete the lessons plans from the World Water Monitoring Challenge site. These activities are appropriate for high school students.
  3. Participate in World Water Monitoring Challenge.  Understand each parameter and why it is important.  (DO Test kits available for confirmed participants.)
  4. Collect specimens of macroinvertebrates and learn to identify to the order level.  If a field trip is not possible or does not yield a wide sample of macroinvertebrates, use an online resource or your cards. Suggested species: mayflies, mosquitoes, caddisflies, gill versus pouch snails.
  5. Learn to identify South Dakota’s aquatic nuisance species.
  6. Understand stream habitat and a lake’s biologic structure (see chapter 2 of A Primer on Limnology).
  7. Read about Dissolved Oxygen.
  8. Know how to delineate a watershed: How to Read a Topographic Map and Delineate a Watershed

Aquatic Ecology Key Points

The Envirothon has put together an online study guide for Aquatic Ecology. Assign 2 students to become the Subject Matter Experts for Aquatic Ecology.

The Subject Matter Experts know and understand the Key Points. They also do the suggested activities and present information to their teammates. They are familiar with the suggested resources.

Additional Resources