Protecting and Preserving Wetlands
DATER MONTESSORI WETLAND UPDATE
On June 5th 2013, fifty students from Covedale, Fairview, Dater, Gamble and Clark Montessori schools (ages 5-17), plus 4 adults Counselors, at the "Powered by Nature" Camp spent the morning studying the vernal pond on the Dater Montessori campus. The Wetland had been installed on September 12, 2012 with a generous donation from Oxbow Inc.
Under the guidance of Matt Stenger of Next Generation Nature, the children were given the task of catching pond critters with dip nets. They proceeded to use magnified bug-viewing specimen containers and microscopes to obtain the following Bio-Survey results.
Figure 1. Macro-Invertebrate Species Observed in the 9 Month Old Wetland at Dater Montessori
Approximate Number Observed
Rat-tailed maggot (drone fly larva)
|Red midge fly larva (blood worm)|
|Spotted fishing spider|
(vastly outnumbered all others) Many hundreds to one
|Daphnia (water fleas)|
|Single celled algae|
The survey was neither extensive nor scientifically controlled, but it does show that after just nine months the vernal pond is supporting a thriving community of living organisms. All of the indicator species are hardy and pollution tolerant which falls in line with a newly constructed environment.
Future exploration will include students conducting a more thorough survey a few times per year as part of a science class and/or camp. Over time, the data will be compared to help the students gain an understanding of aquatic life, how ecosystems change as they mature, food chains, predator-prey relationships, data collection, scientific inquiry and much more. This data will continually be shared with other schools and organizations interested in the Wetland restoration ecology.
One antidotal piece to add was the complete enthrallment of one of the teen volunteers (seen emerged up to his knees in the vernal pond in photos below). Aside from collecting the vast majority of specimens for the Campers, Keith shared a long conversation with Matt regarding Wetland ecology, species, succession and much more. Up to that point in Camp, Keith had seemed disinterested in our activities which primarily included gardening. Later after some research at home, Matt sent more detailed taxonomy information with Keith, our budding Wetland scientist.
Additional Wetland activities took place during Camp: Installation of seed starts and broadcasting Native Ohio Wetland seed donated by Hamilton County Parks Shaker Trace seed depository, including: Eupatorium, Verbena, Napaea, Asclepias, Helenium, Sida, Alisma, Scirpus, Carex species. Also note, the addition of lovely comfortable benches at the Wetland’s edge courtesy of a private donor who turned out during Camp to finish the job of installing them which began on May 18 with a work crew from the Crossroads Church Go Cincinnati effort. Stay tuned…!