Stream Exploration Ecosystem Investigators | Understanding Connections Between Water and Land

Did you know that Pennsylvania has more than 86,000 miles of streams, creeks, and rivers? Did you know that's more than any other state (aside from Alaska)? 

Aside from providing the drinking water essential for all animals (including humans), streams are home to an incredible diversity of living things, all functioning as part of an intricate system. Regardless of what stream you look in – from a pristine mountain stream to a little creek in a city, you can find similar organisms living there. They all have adapted to life underwater and have found ways to get food, hide from predators, and take shelter through turbulent times. To see what is living in Falls Ravine stream and learn how to collect and study these amazing organisms in a body of water near you, check out the video below! 
Children searching for macroinvertebrates in a stream

Now, let's dive a little deeper to learn how you can identify organisms you might find and how they work together as part of the ecosystem.

Below, you’ll find lessons to teach or learn about the relationships between trees and animals found within our city parks. ​

Identifying Stream Organisms is a project led by researchers at CMU to help people learn to identify insects and other organisms that live in our streams. Take a minute to explore the website if you'd like and then come back here for tips and activities to help you learn how to look closely and see these animals.

To the right is a video that will show you how to navigate the site and guide you through the following activity. Feel free to complete this activity on scrap paper, a whiteboard, or whatever else you've got instead of printing it out.

Keep scrolling to learn more about these fascinating organisms!

Stream Food Webs

Want to learn more about all of the cool animals that live in and around streams and how they depend on one another to survive? In the following activity, you will make observations about a model food web that's based on what can be found living in and around the streams of Frick Park. Then, you will use your observations to answer questions about the organisms and the relationship they develop with each other, the stream, and the surrounding parkland. 
Begin by checking out a model of a stream food web by downloading the image file below. 

It's perfectly fine if the model looked tangled and overwhelming at first.

If it did, try taking a second look and see if you can work out what it's telling you. You might start by following one pathway from the bottom of the page towards the top, or vice-versa. Once you've looked around and gotten a sense of it, open this worksheet to explore the food web model more in depth.

Mole cricket