Blog: Rhiwhiriaeth Community Pond Dip!
One of our researchers - Dr. Margaret Town - recently organised a community pond dip, here's her report of the event...
In the spirit of inspiring new generations to take an active interest in their natural environment (and perhaps one day to study at Brunel!) some staff members participate as teachers/leaders in events for young people. So, on the weekend of July 28th I ran a pond-dipping session, in the beautiful rural setting of Mid-Wales, as part of the Rhiwhiriaeth Community centennial celebration.
The day was a bit overcast and showery – so many thanks to the hardy group of parents/grandparents and children (and one or two unaccompanied adults) who visited the Rhiwhiriaeth pond-dipping session and made it an enjoyable experience. It may not have been sunny but, as the chart and pictures show, it turned out to be good weather for ‘dipping’ and our younger visitors between them identified a good cross-section of pond life.
After pulling up some water and sediment from the pond most creatures could be seen using the x5 magnifying stages and then we moved onto the slightly higher magnification of the stereomicroscopes (up to x30), with finally a video onto the big screen to see some details.
The most common finding was water worms (freshwater annelids) –these were of different species and sizes and not easy to distinguish-but everyone could see the numerous segments (photo1). We also found some examples of crustaceans–small ones like the water flea (photo2) and larger ones like the water louse (photos 3,6,7). Crustaceans are very important animals in the food-chain of pond life since they feed on minute plants and make the nutrients from these available for the larger animals. We found many small dark aquatic snails all with the same shaped shell going to a point at the end (photo5) –which are commonly called pond snails (their latin name is Lymnaea). Although they live in water, unlike many aquatic animals which use gills to obtain oxygen from water, these snails mainly use lungs to breathe. There was excitement when a newt was found in the pond (photo4) -this was a small Smooth Newt (or Common Newt). In the water newts use tiny teeth to grab small animals (like the water louse & pond snail) but later in the year, they spend more time on land and use a long tongue to catch insects and worms.
Everyone tried to identify their dipping ‘finds’ and some even made a record by drawing. Special mention should go to: George Edwards (aged 2) for his interpretation of ‘lots of worms’ (see pic); to Katrin who tried to make very careful identification of species; and to Jonathan Jones for ‘catch of the day’ the newt!
With Many Thanks to:
The people of the Rhiwhiriaeth Community for letting us join in their centennial celebrations and for their support; Laura for helping out on the day; Brunel University for use of the some of the microscopes and for providing the identification poster; The Field Studies Council for giving permission to reprint their ID chart.