After this lesson, students will be able to:
1. Define wetlands.
2. List 4 different types of wetlands & describe the most common
type of plants found at each.
3. List five benefits of wetlands.
4. Give an example of a wetland food chain.
5. Sample a wetland’s plants, animals, and soils.
is a Wetland?
Wetlands are characterized by:
• Presence of lots of water – water at surface for some
part of year.
• Wet soils
• Water-loving plants (sedges, willow, cattails)
Types of Wetlands
· Marsh - rushes, sedges, grasses, and other
plants growing in and around the water.
Swamp - shrubs and trees.
· Bog (acidic) – receives only precipitation,
characterized by sphagnum moss and floating mat of vegetation, as
well as, bog rosemary, bog laurel, labrador tea, and black spruce.
· Fen (less acidic and more alkaline) –
receives ground and surface water inflows, characterized by sedges,
woody shrubs, and possibly floating mat of vegetation.
Vernal pond depression in the forest that fills with water
from spring runoff. Will eventually dry up in summer)
Benefits & Functions
· Act like giant sponges to soak up water, reduce floods,
and recharge groundwater.
· Provide resting place for migrating birds.
· Filter out pollutants, trap sediments, and improve water
· Provide water, food, protective cover and breeding areas
· Reduce soil erosion by slowing runoff from storms and spring
· Provide nursery areas and protection for fish.
· Supply agricultural products for people: cranberries, peat,
· Provide recreational, educational, and scientific study
Wetland Functions Activity (Wetland Metaphors in
WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands , p. 85)
help wildlife and people in lots of different ways. Play
Put different objects listed below into a bag. Explain what a metaphor
is. Hand out objects one at a time to groups of 2-3 students, and
ask them to explain how each object represents what a wetland is
= soaks up water, helps prevent floods, adds to groundwater.
Pillow = resting place for migrating birds. Wetlands
are like MOTELS for migrating birds.
beater = mixes nutrients and oxygen into the water.
Strainer = strains out dirt; keeps water clean.
Coffee filter = filters out pollution; keeps water
Antacid = takes away (neutralizes) effect of acid
Wild rice or cereal = provides food for wildlife
and people. Wetlands are like RESTAURANTS
= helps clean the environment.
Baby bottle = wetlands are NURSERIES for raising
baby insects (larva) and baby animals
because there are lots of plants for hiding/shelter, food, and water
nearby for drinking.
Wetlands Provide Habitat for Many Plants & Wildlife
List the four parts of habitat?
• food • water • • shelter • space
These must be in the proper amounts and arrangement for each type
of plant or animal, i. e. . too much water v. too little water.
Different animals have different needs for space, i. e. bear v.
Many different kinds of plants and animals live in a wetland
frogs turtles birds beaver alder cattails
tadpoles fish insects moose willow sandhill crane
sedge water lily algae duck weed heron Canadian geese
(encourage students to research additional plants and animals that
live in wetlands)
Chains in Wetlands
Describe a food
chain for a wetland:
— zooplankton — insect larva — frog — heron/snake
Wetland Sampling Activity
Shovel or soil auger
Plant ID books
Ziploc bags for collecting plants
Organize students into groups to:
· Describe soil.
· Measure depth to groundwater.
· Identify plants
· Determine wetland type
need to add
Rephrase objectives as questions.
Field Trip Rules:
1. This pond is home to lots of animals.
Treat the pond the way you’d want a stranger to treat your
special place. Don’t walk in it! It makes the water all murky—
hard for us to see critters and hard for them to see their food.
pond is a nursery for young animals.
Be careful with the animals that you collect so you don’t
• Don’t handle them with your hands.
• Put all animals back in the water when you are through.
3. These animals need water.
All collected animals must be placed in a container with water ASAP.
careful of equipment.
Rinse all nets and containers when you’re through. Anyone
not being safe and careful with equipment will lose it.