“Our Awa” The Ruamahanga River trip March 2017
On Wednesday 1st March year 12 Biology went to complete river health checks and biodiversity at the Ruamahanga River, Homebush in Masterton. This was the practical part to an internal assessment on ecosystems.
We were fortunate to have an awesome sunny, hot day weather wise. The students got the equipment they needed and without delay they got on with their assessment of the area. We were lucky to be able to borrow some sampling equipment from the Wellington Regional Council. We sampled clarity, pH, temperature, conductivity, macroinvertebrates present, flow rate and looked at the general area and considered what any involvement in the way of human impact, agricultural and sewage run-off would have on our sampling area. This gave us an indication of “how healthy” the river was. Organisms tolerate certain comfortable surroundings (just like humans being tolerant of certain temperatures and intolerant of extreme hot and cold temperatures). For example, organisms like certain levels of pH and temperature. If these readings are out with the organisms comfort zone then that can threaten their survival and therefore reproduction rate and affect overall population of the organisms in the river.
Students measuring flow rate
Students measuring clarity
Luckily most of the organisms we found were sensitive to pollution, which indicated a healthy river. Organisms we found were Mayfly, cased Caddisfly and we even found a baby trout. We kept them in river water and placed all the organisms back in their environment after being observed and identified. Research into these organisms will be done back at school to find out about how they adapt behaviourally, structurally and physiologically to their river environment.
This was a great day applying what was learnt in the classroom into the great outdoors. The students were extremely hard-working doing their sampling and collecting data and are currently writing up their river study.
Although we only got a snapshot of time at the river, ongoing river monitoring is carried out by Wellington Regional Council to track changes in conditions over time to see whether the health of the river is improving or declining. Involving students on river and stream studies improves their knowledge enabling them to share stories about biodiversity and what they can do to protect their rivers and streams.