Investigation: Vernal Pool Biotic Inventory

Instructions / How to do this investigation


What are the dominant organisms found in the three Woodside vernal pools in the winter month of March and spring month of April? 


  • Ice cube trays
  • Bucket
  • Small bottle for water samples
  • Plastic spoons
  • White tray or tub to observe small organisms.
  • Optional: Hand lens
  • Optional:  camera
  • Website or chart for identification.
  • Optional:  microscope

Micro-organism Plan

  1. Identify locations on the school campus that has vernal pools.
  2. Gather ice samples and water samples under ice if possible.
  3. Bring water inside to warm for a week.
  4. Observe water samples with a microscope and hand lens to identify organisms.
  5. Observe 2 samples from each pond.  

Macro-organism plan

  1. Identify locations on the school campus that has vernal pools.
  2. Each week (8 weeks), collect water samples 2 quarts in the bucket.  When collecting, mix water to be sure to get water from the top and bottom of the pool.
  3. Pour water into the observation tray.
  4. Use the spoon or other collection tool to separate organisms into ice cube trays.
  5. Take a picture or sketch organism found.  Count the number of like species in your collection of water.  Record the top three most abundant organisms identified.
  6. Check for micro-organisms with three slides made from the sample.
  7. Repeat with another two quarts if time.



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