M008900 Modelling water quality

M008900 Modelling water quality

Description

This is a colour video clip in which Professor David Hamilton, an ecologist from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, talks about the important functions of ecosystems and the consequences of deterioration in those functions. He explains how computer models can be used to address these problems. Sequences showing Professor Hamilton at work are included.

Acknowledgements: Copyright Education Services Australia Ltd.

Educational value
The benefits that ecosystems supply to humans are known as 'ecosystem services'. They include maintenance of clean water and fertile soil, pollination of plants, regulation of climate and removal of wastes. Many current environmental problems stem from the degradation of ecosystem services through unsustainable practices.
If ecosystems are damaged, ecosystem services can be disrupted. Human activities such as over-harvesting of water, pollution, introduction of weeds or feral animals, deforestation or draining of wetlands can damage ecosystems. Compensating for the loss of ecosystem services by introducing artificial systems can be expensive.
Computer models allow scientists to investigate how an ecosystem responds to changes. This allows them to study the effects of changes that would result in too much damage to study in a real ecosystem. In ecology, such models usually depend on the input of data from an array of sensors within the ecosystem.
Professor David Hamilton is particularly interested in studying water quality in the lakes around Rotorua, New Zealand. These lakes are affected by algal blooms as a result of heavy nutrient loads from septic tanks and farmlands. Sensors in these lakes measure temperature, pH (acidity), dissolved oxygen and light levels, and computer models are used to evaluate possible management strategies.
Year level
5; 6; 7; 8; 9
Topics
Computer simulations
Ecological sustainability
Ecosystems
Environmental stewardship
Water quality
Learning area
Science
Strand
Science
Rights
© Education Services Australia Ltd 2011 (except where otherwise indicated). You may copy, communicate and adapt this metadata for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.