This manualdescribes the procedure for studying vernal
pools in spring. Students analyze the species composition of animals found in temporary
water bodies at different distances away from a constant water reservoir. A general plan
for the organization of studies is given, as well as a technique for sampling (catching
animals), processing, and representation of data.
This field study has instructional video
featuring real students conducting the ecological field techniques in nature. Each video
illustrates the primary instructional outcomes and the major steps in accomplishing the
task including reporting the results.
In the course of the research, the objects under study are so-called temporary water
bodies, i.e. water reservoirs that fill up with water for a short time and that dry
out quickly. The lifetime of temporary water bodies is different: from several days up to
several months. Temporary water bodies also differ in their origin.
Temporary water bodies found in the temperate climatic zone are usually
formed in spring – during a period of snowmelt and spring river floods (spring tide). In
the central part of Russia, this period usually takes place at the end of April to the
beginning of May. Temporary water bodies can also appear in other seasons, for instance,
after heavy rainfalls in summer and following river floods (freshets). However, due to the
regulated streams of most plain rivers (the presence of dams and water-storage
reservoirs), summer floods and, correspondingly, temporary water bodies have become quite
Temporary water bodies are quite common in other climatic zones of the earth as well,
and not only in spring. They are formed in the well-known rainy season in Africa, Asia,
and South America: at low latitudes, where monsoons and trade winds dominate.
Many animals have adapted to life in temporary water bodies, both invertebrates
and vertebrates. Among vertebrates they are, first of all, amphibians. They are active
when water is available, but when the water body dries up they migrate to the nearest
constant water reservoirs (in the example of frogs) or they fall into anabiosis
until the next time the temporary water body is filled (for example, tritons).
However, invertebrate animals constitute the largest part of the animal
community in temporary water bodies. They will be objects of the given research as well.
Most invertebrates that find habitat in temporary water bodies are arthropods (mainly,
crustaceans and insects) and mollusks. Some of them migrate upon sensing unfavorable
conditions for their existence (flying insects), others survive drought by burying
into silt (crustaceans and mollusks).
This research will help us to find out what animals inhabit temporary water bodies,
what adaptations animals have for survival under unfavorable conditions, and how do these
The following equipment, which is standard for hydrobiological
studies, is required for these studies: scrapers, sieves, nets, i.e. devices designed for
catching invertebrates, white dishes (basins) to sort out caught animals under field
conditions, cans with covers to transport samples, field diaries, field guides and
General plan of the organization of studies
This research is aimed at study of animal populations of different types in temporary
water-bodies of your area. Hence, the objectives of the study are: 1.) The search
for temporary water bodies that can be found in this season in the vicinity of the school
or field studies center; 2.) Classification of available temporary water bodies according
to their origin type (feeding) and distance from the main constant body of water; 3.)
Sampling (i.e. catching) of invertebrate animals in each type of the found temporary water
bodies; 4) Determination of caught animals; 5) Compiling lists of animal species according
to types of temporary water bodies; 6) Analysis of the dependence of animal species
composition on the type of temporary water body.
Choice of objects under study
Temporary water bodies serve as the objects under study in the course of this research.
As it has been said in the introduction, they are water bodies that exist for a short
period of time and are formed as a result of snow melting or a river flood. Accordingly,
the most typical existing temporary water bodies under conditions existing in the central
part of Russia can be divided into two or three groups.
First, there are puddles (ponds and lakelets), which are formed within the river or
stream floodplain or close to a lake or pond, due to spring flood of the main water
body. Size and depth of such water bodies are of no principal importance for conducting
the studies; the most important thing is...
This was only the first page from the manual and its full version you can see in the
Ecological Field Studies 4CD Set:
It is possible to purchase the complete set of 40 seasonal Ecological Field
Study Materials (video in mpg + manuals in pdf formats) in an attractive 4 compact disk set.
These compact disks are compatible with Mac and PC computers.
The teacher background information and manuals can be printed out for easy reference.
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Ecological Field Studies Demo Disk:
We also have a free and interesting demonstration disk that explains our ecological field studies approach.
The demo disk has short excerpts from all the seasonal field study videos as well as sample text from all the teacher manuals.
The disk has an entertaining automatic walk through which describes the field study approach and explains how field studies meet education standards.
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This is a virtual hybrid (for PC and Mac computers) CD-ROM image (one 563 Mb file "CD_Demo.iso").
You can write this image to the CD and use it in your computer in ordinary way.
You also can use emulator software of virtual CD-ROM drive to play the disk directly from your hard disk.
Other Ecological Field Studies Instructive