Table of Contents
Why are we concerned about amphibians?
Wetlands - function/type
How to help amphibians
Community Green Plans
HELP! - Problems and concerns brought to our attention through letters from homeowners.
Wetland tales / Literature
Photo Gallery I
Photo Gallery II
Have you ever wondered what was that green slimy stuff floating around in your pond? Well that green slimy stuff is actually
phytoplankton, a type of plankton which makes up the basis of the aquatic food chain! Phytoplankton are microscopic plants which
produce food energy from sun energy. Phytoplankton, also known as algae, are eaten by tiny animals called zooplankton, insects,
amphibian tadpoles, and small fish. Amphibian eggs, tadpoles and small fish are eaten by larger fish which are then eaten by birds,
mammals and people. So as you can see this green slimy stuff is VERY IMPORTANT in a pond. Why not catch some plankton and
watch it grow !
Materials & Equipment:
- marsh or pond water
- a large clear plastic pop bottle
- a magnifying glass
- if possible, a microscope with a glass slide and eye dropper
- Fill your pop bottle with clear marsh or pond water trying not to get any of the mud off the bottom. Cap the pop bottle and take it
- Place the uncovered plastic pop bottle in the sun once you get home.
- Every few days check the water and take note of any changes. You should notice that the marsh/pond water gets greener and
cloudier as the days pass. The green colour comes from the phytoplankton multiplying and increasing in numbers in the water. This
is what is called an "Algal Bloom".
- If your lucky enough to have a microscope, why not have a closer look! Place a drop of water on a glass slide and then cover it with
either another glass slide or a cover slip. The green organisms are mostly phytoplankton, whereas the clear moving organisms are
- You may want to do three experiments at the same time. Instead of just filling one plastic pop bottle with pond water fill three, and
place one in the sun, one in the dark and one in the fridge. Make note of any differences. Now where would you most likely see an
- A pond found in the middle of a field
- A pond found in a forest
- A cold water stream
- Make sure you return your marsh/pond water to its appropriate wetland.
( Answer at bottom of page)
Zooplankton are microscopic animals that work hard in wetland waters to recycle dead and decaying plants that either lived or fell
into the water. Here is an experiment that will show you how hard zooplankton work to clean up the wetland water.
Materials and Equipment
- marsh or pond water
- a large plastic pop bottle
- a large glass jar
- a dead leaf from a wetland plant
- a pencil or tree branch
- Fill your plastic pop bottle with clear marsh or pond water trying not to get any of the mud off the bottom. Cover the tub and take
the water home.
- Take a dead wetland leaf home with you. Make sure the leaf is small enough to fit in your jar.
- Once your home, transfer some of the water into a clean glass jar. Place the jar in the sun without its cover.
- After 24 hours, tie the leaf with a piece a string to the pencil or branch. Place the suspended leaf into the pond water and secure the
pencil or branch to the jar with some tape. Make sure the whole leaf is under the pond water. Leave the jar in the sun for one week.
- Keep track of any changes to the leaf during the week. You should see the leaf slowly disappear as the zooplankton in the marsh
water feed of the leaf.
If you look at marsh water very closely you will notice a large number of different insects and other small animals. These organism are
food for fish, birds, turtles, amphibians and other wetland wildlife. You will find different species of insects living on the surface,
middle sections and bottom sections of a wetland. Why not explore these differences yourself!
Materials and Equipment:
- marsh water
- a kitchen strainer
- four shallow, light coloured
- a magnifying glass
- small, clear plastic bottles (ie. empty pill bottles)
- field guides to pond life and insects
- Fill all four dishpans with marsh water.
- Using a kitchen strainer dip net for animals around the plants growing in the water along the shoreline. Place any animals caught in
the dishpan labelled "On Plants".
- Using the strainer skim the surface of the water for floating insects or insects attached to floating leaves. Carefully place these insects
into the dishpan labelled "Surface".
- Using the kitchen strainer, strain the middle section of the marsh water column for insects. Carefully place these insects into the
dishpan labelled "Open Water".
- Dig the kitchen strainer into the bottom mud of the marsh, and swirl the strainer in the water to strain out excess mud. Carefully
bring up the strainer letting any excess water drain out. Place the insects into the dishpan labelled "Bottom". Make sure you don't put
too much mud into the dishpan as it will be too cloudy to see any organisms.
- Now take a look at all four containers and compare the animal life found in all four areas of a wetland. For a closer look at some
thing small, transfer an animal into a small bottle of marsh water using tweezers. A magnifying glass will allow you to see the organisms features in more detail. Spend some time observing the insects. Compare insect sizes, shapes and colours between all three levels.
Identify each species using a guide to pond life. If you have problems finding organisms in the wetland bottom sample add more
pond water to clear it up.
- You may also want to do a comparison study of the insects found in a field pond, woodland pond and stream. You'll see a big
- When you have finished looking at the aquatic life, carefully return the marsh water and animals to its appropriate wetland.