Wetlands 4: Activities

WETLANDS 4: Activities

Activity 1.

The description in Water - the Key Factor contains some messages about the consequences of poor land management. In small groups, discuss the content and layout of a poster that focuses on water quality in wetlands and possible causes of the lack of quality. Produce the poster on A3 paper or card. Alternatively, construct a storyboard outlining the script and sequence of a TV documentary on water quality in wetlands.

Activity 2.

Using simple symbols construct a diagram showing the various means by which water enters wetland ecosystems. You may need to draw more than one type of wetland to show all the information given in the first paragraph. Label your diagram with the following captions:

local rainfall           surface runoff                        distant rainfall                        watercourse

groundwater          springs                                  storage dam                         wetlands

Add two boxes near the rainfall symbol: one telling how weather patterns can affect the time of the year when rain falls and its regularity, and the other how the amount of rainfall can affect the wetland's characteristics (size, shape and water levels).

Activity 3.

List the various factors that affect water quality. Read through the passage and besides each factor write a sentence or two commenting on how, or in what way, that factor can affect good water quality.

Discuss in groups the differences between the effects on water quality by natural and human-caused factors. Consider immediacy of the effect, impact on aquatic ecosystems and permanency of effects.

Activity 4.

In the same groups, research the chemicals that are mentioned as being necessary to run a gold mine, but are potentially hazardous. List their properties and describe possible effects on the environment. With new mines emergency procedures will be determined as part of the planning of an environmental impact statement. Discuss the question of whether it is better to have some emergency procedures in place than none at all. Write to the Department of Mines and Energy asking them for their comments on the use and control of hazardous substances.

Activity 5. Working out a definition.

The opening sentence of the international definition of wetlands says, "Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water..." Find the meaning of the first three terms in a dictionary. Are there any that don't apply to Australian conditions?

The international definition continues with a series of conditions. From the following list of options, write down the one in each that you think is appropriate for a definition of wetlands.

natural only                        artificial only                        natural or artificial

permanent only                        not permanent                        permanent or not permanent

with water that is

static only                        flowing only                        static or flowing

fresh only                        salty only                        fresh, brackish or salt


not including areas of marine water                        including areas of marine water less

than 6 m in depth                        than 6 m in depth

Put all the pieces together to arrive at a final definition. Compare your definition with other ones.

Activity 6. Types of wetlands

Construct a retrieval chart of the Australian wetlands mentioned in this section. List the types of wetlands and make columns for the following data;

Location                     Permanent or not                     Water source                     Salinity

Topographical features                        Wildlife                        Significance

You will have to do some research to find out what plants and animals may be found in each type of wetland.

Reference:Cowling, S. (1989). Wetlands wildlife. Melbourne: Gould League of Victoria.

Activity 7. Seasonal changes

Construct two diagrams (one for the wet season, one for the dry season) as part of one larger model explaining the movement and behaviour of different animals during the two main seasons of the Top End wetlands. Show the different strategies employed by animals to adjust to a changing environment. Title the model, 'Coping with change'. Make a display of the completed models.

Activity 8. Weather patterns

As an ongoing assignment collect the weather maps from the daily newspaper for ten consecutive days. No matter what time of the year it is, there will be some recognisable pattern emerging from the sequence (the pattern may even be one of sameness). Summarise what changes have occurred in the ten days, both Australia-wide and locally. How do these micro-changes fit into the larger patterns of seasonal change as you know them?  

1. Water - the Key Factor 2. Types of Wetlands in the Top End 3. An Environment Subject to Change  

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Did you know?

Amphibians were the first backboned animals to emerge onto land. Far older than the dinosaurs they have evolved many strage survival strategies.