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2.  Water
3.  Ecology
4.  Amphibians
5.  Environmental Issues
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Wetland Curriculum Resource
Unit 2. Water - Activities

7 : 8 : 10 acad : 10 appl : 11 appl :: Water Quality)

Purpose: To monitor the water quality conditions that are favourable to amphibians for breeding, and to record sightings of amphibians.

What You Need: pH test kit :: thermometer :: wetland monitoring sheet :: amphibian observation sheet :: amphibian field guide

What You Do:

Print copies of the wetland monitoring sheet (available here if you cannot display pop-up windows) and the amphibian monitoring sheet (available here if you cannot display pop-up windows). Select a wetland that your class or school would like to monitor on a monthly or yearly basis. Monitoring should be conducted between the first week of April and the end of June. May is the best month. The most important task, and probably the most difficult, will be determining the size of the wetland. Local Conservation Authorities will be able to provide you with this information if the wetland is too big to measure. If the wetland is relatively small, the city planning department may have this information, or it can be measured physically by the students. Large wetlands may have a greater diversity of micro-habitats, and hence a greater diversity of species. Closely related to size is the ratio of open water to vegetation. It is important to determine the percentage of area covered by both open water and plant communities present. Record information on the wetland monitoring sheet and the amphibian observation sheet as accurately as possible.

  1. Visit the wetland that you plan to monitor. Record a temperature reading on the edges of the north shore of the wetland and the south shore of the wetland. Use the same thermometer. Take at least 3 measurements each on both sides of the wetland and then average the readings. Try to account for any drastic differences in each of the 3 readings. Such factors as water depth, increased sun exposure, or shade can vary results. Record results.
  2. Measuring pH. Record results.
  3. Look for the presence of amphibians in the wetland. This can be done by listening for calls, finding eggs, or seeing them. Record findings.
  4. If you are monitoring a pond without amphibians or in your school yard, record temperatures at different depths or exposures (north and south side). What accounts for the variation in temperature? Where would you expect to find amphibian eggs early in spring when ground and water temperatures are cool?


  1. Why was it necessary to record temperature on both the north shore and the south shore of the wetland?
  2. Water temperatures rarely exceed 10° C in spring. During spring breeding, amphibians prefer and actively seek out water temperatures of 15° to 19° C. Late breeders such as the green frogs or bullfrogs wait until water is warmed in June or July. This water temperature may determine where and when amphibians breed. In addition to temperature, amphibians prefer a pH of 4.5 to 8.5.
  3. Compare your values recorded to the preferred values for temperature and pH. (Older students may wish to explore the effects of pH and water temperature on amphibians more throughly using Unit 5: Environmental Issues.)
  4. Discuss creating or restoring a nearby wetland in light of question 2. Remember each place is different and different species have their own needs. Your pond might be perfect for salamanders and you shouldn't try to make it into a home for bullfrogs. If you are trying to create or restore wetland, this manual and the "Urban Outback -Wetlands for Wildlife: A Guide to Wetland Restoration and Frog-friendly Backyards" will give you some help in determining the type of area you should be creating.

Detailed monitoring protocols, developed by the Canadian Wildlife Service, are available in the appendix of the "Urban Outback". If you are interested in participating in a frog monitoring programme, please visit the Frogwatch-Ontario Website.

Click here to see the answers to these questions.
Click here to go back to the list of activities for this unit.


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