This activity was designed to give students an opportunity to answer their own questions about richness-environment relationships and linear models using ephemeral ponds. The students compare differences in species richness-environment relationships between permanent and temporary wetlands using site-specific data collected as part of a large, long-term study of 57 permanent and ephemeral wetlands to generate and test hypotheses.
The data that students will be working with is part of the Chippewa Moraine Ephemeral Ponds Project, a five-year study of 57 wetlands in western Wisconsin. The data available to students includes two years (2013 and 2014) of environmental, plant, and aquatic macroinvertebrate data. Species/taxa richness metrics are included for macroinvertebrates and plants. All of the data is provided in annual mean format. 2013 was an average precipitation year (mean wetland water depth = 7.5 cm, SE = 1.4 cm), but 2014 was significantly above-average (mean wetland water depth = 28.5 cm, SE = 3.2 cm, P < 0.001, paired T = 2.00, df = 56). More advanced students may be interested in comparing relationships between years and speculating as to why these differences may be due to altered hydrology.
Aquatic macroinvertebrates were sampled three times during each growing season using surface-associated activity traps placed on the perimeter of each wetland. Wetlands were sampled using three traps (ephemeral ponds) or five traps (permanent wetlands), because the permanent wetlands were substantially larger than the ephemeral ponds. Wetland water chemistry was assessed three times during each growing season using field multimeters. Total phosphorus (U.S. EPA 1978), soluble reactive phosphorus (O’Dell 1993) and chlorophyll-a (Arar 1997) were also measured three times per season, and determined in the laboratory. Finally, plant data was collected using quadrats once per growing season in late July through early September.
Please cite as:
Amanda M. Little. 2017. Environment-Richness Relationships in Ephemeral and Permanent Wetlands: Guided Inquiry with Graph Interpretation. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 13: Practice #5 [online]. http://tiee.esa.org/vol/v13/issues/data_sets/little/abstract.html. doi:10.25334/Q4MQ2X