Planet H2O- Water Pollution and the Aquatic Food Chain

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This podcast is part of the series: Planet H2O

Multimedia Details Title: Planet H2O- Water Pollution and the Aquatic Food Chain
Creator: McWane Science Center
Submitted By: Kathy Fournier, Informal Education Partner, Informal Education Partner

McWane Science Center


Biomagnification is the accumulation of a substance up the food chain by transfer of the pollutant in smaller organisms that are food for larger organisms in the chain. It generally refers to the sequence of processes which results in higher concentrations in organisms at higher levels in the food chain (at higher trophic levels). These processes result in an organism having higher concentrations of a substance than is present in the organism’s food. There is evidence that some carnivores at the ends of longer food chains (e.g. larger fish, birds of prey, HUMANS) can then accumulate the water pollutant from eating down in the food chain.

Clean fresh water is vital to life on our planet. What can happen if our waters become polluted? How can that affect us as humans if it is happening in the water and to the organisms in that water? One of the ways pollution impacts humans is through food chains. We have to remember that we are part of the environment and as a result, part of the food chain. We eat many of the aquatic organisms, fish and shellfish, which can be detrimentally affected by water pollution.

Length: 06:07
Content Areas: Science
Alabama Course of Study Alignments and/or Professional Development Standard Alignments:
SC (3)
7. Describe the life cycle of plants, including seed, seed germination, growth, and reproduction.
  • Describing the role of plants in a food chain
  • Identifying plant and animal cells
  • Describing how plants occupy space and use light, nutrients, water, and air
  • Classifying plants according to their features
  • Examples: evergreen or deciduous, flowering or nonflowering
  • Identifying helpful and harmful effects of plants
  • Examples:
    helpful—provide food, control erosion;
    harmful—cause allergic reactions, produce poisons
  • Identifying how bees pollinate flowers
  • Identifying photosynthesis as the method used by plants to produce food
  • SC (4)
    5. Describe the interdependence of plants and animals.
  • Describing behaviors and body structures that help animals survive in particular habitats
  • Examples:
    behaviors—migration, hibernation, mimicry;
    body structures—quills, fangs, stingers, webbed feet
  • Describing life cycles of various animals to include incomplete and complete metamorphosis
  • Examples: damsel fly, mealworms
  • Tracing the flow of energy through a food chain
  • Example: producer, first-level consumer, second-level consumer, and third-level consumer
  • Identifying characteristics of organisms, including growth and development, reproduction, acquisition and use of energy, and response to the environment
  • SC (5)
    9. Describe the relationship of populations within a habitat to various communities and ecosystems.
  • Describing the relationship between food chains and food webs
  • Describing symbiotic relationships
  • SC (6)
    3. Describe water and carbon biogeochemical cycles and their effects on Earth.
    SC (7)
    7. Describe biotic and abiotic factors in the environment.
    biotic—plants, animals;
    abiotic—climate, water, soil
  • Classifying organisms as autotrophs or heterotrophs
  • Arranging the sequence of energy flow in an ecosystem through food webs, food chains, and energy pyramids
  • SC2015 (5)
    10. Construct and interpret models (e.g., diagrams, flow charts) to explain that energy in animals' food is used for body repair, growth, motion, and maintenance of body warmth and was once energy from the sun.
    SC2015 (5)
    11. Create a model to illustrate the transfer of matter among producers; consumers, including scavengers and decomposers; and the environment.
    SC2015 (5)
    17. Design solutions, test, and revise a process for cleaning a polluted environment (e.g., simulating an oil spill in the ocean or a flood in a city and creating a solution for containment and/or cleanup).*