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Freshwater Ecology/Limnology

Course taught by Dave Potter, Unity College. Example compiled by Suzanne Savanick, Science Education Resource Center.
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


In the freshwater ecology/limnology course, students study aquatic organisms in relation to the environmental conditions of lakes and streams. The course develops substantial quantities of data concerning the local watershed. This data is used by community partners in many contexts. Class activities may contribute to public education, resource management, water quality improvement efforts, resource management plans, land use and development, licensing reports, proposals for funding, tourism, property tax determination, public policy and rulemaking deliberations, bills submitted to the Maine Legislature, and other social and cultural development of northern Waldo County and beyond.

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Learning Goals

The primary objective of the course is to contribute to student preparation in aquatic sciences. The course will expose students to a variety of aquatic environments that are relatively unperturbed and those much perturbed by human activity. Techniques to describe, manage, and manipulate freshwater ecosystems will be practiced and observed in anticipation of entry level employment in aquatic science professions.

Context for Use


Teaching Materials

Course Syllabus

Teaching Notes and Tips

Our service-learning projects for Fall 1999 include:

  • routine water quality monitoring and the Lake Winnecook Inventory (LWI)
  • the contracts for Megaleuctra Fisheries Consultants (MFC)
  • the opportunity to participate in the Watershed Stewards workshop
  • renewed contributions to Maine Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project
  • and new initiatives with the Maine Vernal Pool Advisory Group and with Maine Damselfly and Dragonfly Survey

The instructor anticipated a laboratory trip to Kanokolus Bog, owned by Hofstra University, to continue a recent cooperative agreement between the college and Hofstra.

Service-learning partnerships will be supported by formal and informal discussions about service performed, in journal entries, and possibly by site visits by partner representatives. Community partners are listed on Lake Winnecook Water Quality Project Community Partners poster. Some partners will teach specific techniques or request explicit ecological data. Other partners will describe their efforts toward resource management. Representatives may offer advice and insight to operations of the partner organization. The instructor was cautious when describing actual visits by partner representatives, for in past years the actual scheduling of formal visits has been inadequate or absent due to busy schedules.


  • Quizzes: unannounced, any time, 10 points, best 12 15%
  • Lecture Exams: rigorous, 100 points, 7 OCT, 18 NOV 20%
  • Final Exercise: rigorous, professional, comprehensive 10%
  • MFC Contract: role playing as consultants for local client 10%
  • Service-Learning: context: class, laboratory, agencies 15%

References and Resources