If you were to make observations of your local environment, what types of data would you collect? Have you ever considered the sounds of the environment to be an important factor? Consider what information sounds can provide about the condition of an environment. Many ecologists study specific environments using their natural combination of sounds, called a soundscape. This innovative technique allows scientists to use more types of evidence to describe an environment and study how it may change over time.
Watersheds can be as small as a lake or thousands of square miles. The natural or human-made surface of the land and the sediments and rocks below are all part of a watershed. Rainfall
supplies watersheds, and water moves across the surface or infiltrates and moves through the ground.
In this activity you will use a computer model to explore the movement of water within your watershed.
• Computer with internet
Tap water from the kitchen has very different properties from water in a stream or a pond, even if they might appear similar. Water quality refers to the physical and chemical properties of water
that make it suitable for a particular use based on biological, physical, and chemical characteristics. A fish might live in sedimentrich water at the bottom of a lake, but you would not want to drink it!
Wetlands are places where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by water or saturated at least some of the time. They include mangroves, marshes, swamps, forested wetlands, and bogs and are important nurseries for young birds, fish, amphibians, and other aquatic plants and animals. In addition to providing habitat for wildlife, wetlands offer storm protection, improve water quality, support aquatic species, and provide recreational opportunities.
Looking at Earth from space is inspiring. All of the colors you see in a satellite image tell you a lot about the world around us. What is on the land around you? Pavement? A grassy lawn? A forest? What covers our land matters because we depend on and pasture to produce food, forests for wood products, plants for clean air, and water to support wildlife.
Minerals are the naturally occurring solid materials that make up rocks and sands and are found in soil. You are probably aware of everyday minerals like halite (sodium chloride — table salt), graphite (“lead” in pencils), quartz (main mineral in beach sand), and others. As of this writing, there are 5,663 known minerals, and new ones are still being discovered. You can learn about minerals online in the Handbook of Mineralogy (https://handbookofmineralogy.org/).