Live Streaming the Natural Way!

September 28, 2020

Students can tell you all about live streaming in today's technological world, but do they know the importance of "live streaming" in the natural world? Discovering the value of macroinvertebrates as living indicators of water quality is a fun activity for students. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to take part in a very educational Macroinvertebrates Study with the Adopt-A-Stream Program, and I wrote a Science Scene Blog called "What's Streaming in Your Watershed?". I was recently reminiscing about that experience, and then, to confirm my thoughts of re-sharing the blog with you, my good friend with LaMotte reached out to me about some great support videos they have for their LaMotte Leaf Pack Experiments Stream Ecology Kit. These videos were produced by the Leaf Pack Network and feature Leaf Pack Administrator and Assistant Director of Education, Tara Muenz.

Thinking the videos were pretty cool, I decided to do a little research about the Leaf Pack Network since that's who Tara works for. Let me tell you – I hit the Macroinvertebrate jackpot with their website! The Leaf Pack Network®, an initiative of Stroud™ Water Research Center, is an "international network of teachers, students, and citizen monitors investigating their local stream ecosystems. Following instructions in the Leaf Pack Network Manual, monitors use tree leaves and aquatic insects to determine the health of their stream and understand its ecology." This treasure trove of information defines what the Leaf Pack Network is about and includes information on how you can collect and share data from your own watershed. You will want to click around all of the tabs to get the full benefit of this amazing website!

For instance, clicking on the Learn tab gets you a list of the following six topics:

• What is a Watershed

This topic covers what a watershed is and gives steps of how to find your local watershed.

• Linking Trees to Streams

Linking Trees to Streams defines what a Leaf Pack is, describes Leaf Packs as habitat, and discusses freshwater macroinvertebrates, the life cycles of aquatic insects, water quality indicators, functional feeding groups, plus stream size and the macroinvertebrate community.

• What Are Benthic Macroinvertebrates?

What are Benthic Macroinvertebrates? gives youthe answer to this very question! This topic covers what Benthic Macroinvertebrates are, what kinds of macroinvertebrates you can find in a stream, common macroinvertebrates, insect life cycles, aquatic insect life cycles, and some macroinvertebrate resources.

• What Can Leaf Pack Data Tell Us About Stream Health?

This topic discusses both the Biotic Index and the EPT Index and how to calculate them both to determine stream health.

• Linking the Leaf Pack Experiment to Stream Ecology

In Linking the Leaf Pack Experiment to Stream Ecology, this topic explains how Stroud researchers have been studying the connection between streamside forests and stream ecosystems for decades. Conducting a leaf pack experiment by placing artificial leaf packs in the stream replicates the natural process of leaves forming packs in streams.

• Curious About STEM Careers?

All of these topics are very informative and provide a wealth of information, however, this last topic caught my attention. What I found was a group of videos of Stroud professionals from different fields explaining their job title, what they do and why they do it, the importance of their work, what they like most about their job, and what amount of education they received to be able to do what they do. I can only imagine how enlightening this is for students with an interest in environmental science to hear from people in jobs they may never even have known existed.

Now do you believe me when I said this website is a treasure trove of information for live streaming the natural way? Well, I have only shared with you a small amount of the information available on the Leaf Pack Network website. They have helpful apps, a section where you can enter your own data and look at data entered by others, another experiment for the Rock Pack, and so much more! Please go see for yourself what all they have to offer – you'll certainly be glad you did!

Stephanie Miller

With over 25 years experience, Stephanie serves as a senior copywriter, social media director, and senior editor for Science Scene. Stephanie is always on the lookout for new educational and STEM-related opportunities and technology.