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AoS 2 How Earth is a dynamic system - Investigating change in wetland and grassland ecosystems

Full Day
Book Program
Year Levels
Unit 1 — How are Earth’s systems connected?


There is a diverse range of environments across Victoria. These include arid and coastal regions, grasslands and numerous types of forests. Within these regions there is a diverse range of ecosystems, which are classified by a combination of the vegetation community and landform. Victoria’s ecosystems include rainforests, alpine, grasslands, semi-desert, marine, coastal, urban, agricultural and wetland ecosystems.

Ecolinc has both a wetland ecosystem and a grassland ecosystem. An ecosystem consists of all the organisms living in a community as well as all the abiotic factors with which they interact.

Ecosystems change over time. These changes can be short term or long term and can be caused by natural causes or can be human induced.

Prior Knowledge

No prior knowledge required.

Learning Intentions

In this program students will:

  • Identify freshwater macroinvertebrates
  • Examine relationships between wetland/grassland organisms
  • Explore processes within wetland/grassland ecosystems
  • Investigate change in wetland and grassland ecosystems
  • Investigate how human activities can alter wetland/grassland ecosystems.


  • In the laboratory, identify the macroinvertebrates using the stereo microscope and identification keys
  • Determine interactions within the Ecolinc wetland
  • Identify producers, consumers and detritivores in ecosystems
  • Explore wetland trophic levels and flow of energy
  • Complete the nested quadrats activity using the mac books to determine the optimal size of a quadrat in a grassland ecosystem
  • Complete the surveys for four quadrats in the Ecolinc grassland
  • Analyse and discuss results
  • Evaluate changes to wetlands and grassy woodlands over time.

VCE links

Students will gain key knowledge of:

Systems thinking

  • systems thinking as a framework for exploring relationships in environmental systems by identifying inputs
  • outputs, components and structures that may be visible or invisible to the human eye
  • open, semi-permeable or closed systems in terms of energy and matter
  • the interrelatedness of systems: hierarchical interactions (sub-systems, system in focus, and supra-system) including changes in one system that affect others in the hierarchy.

Environmental factors that affect Earth over time

  • techniques for measuring and monitoring changes in the environment
  • the effects of environmental changes on Earth’s systems that relate to the survival of living things, including a focus on at least one example from each of the following time scales:
    • short term (seconds to years): daily, diurnal, nocturnal, circadian, seasonal, tidal, and El Niño-Southern Oscillation events
    • medium term (multiple years to hundreds of years): solar output cycles, glacial melting, vegetation succession, land cover changes, and desertification
    • long term (thousands to millions of years): plate tectonics, evolutionary mechanisms, Milankovitch cycles, thermohaline circulation, mass extinction of species, and geomagnetic reversals
  • the effects of unpredictable and/or abrupt environmental changes resulting in localised extinction and speciation, or ecosystem shock, with reference to at least one example from the following events: floods, droughts, re, earthquake, volcanic activity, the emergence of new diseases and/or rapid erosion events.

Alternative program

Schools have the opportunity to incorporate a trip to Mt Rothwell for this program. This alternative program will begin at 2pm. Students will carry out all of the wetland activities at Ecolinc. They will then travel by bus to Mt Rothwell and undertake the grassland activities at Mt Rothwell. Students can bring their own dinner or BYO food for a bbq. Students will then be taken on a spotlighting tour of Mt Rothwell at dusk by Mt Rothwell staff. Here they will get the chance to observe many of our native endangered grassland species that have been released on this 420 predator free property.


There is an additional fee per student for the Mt Rothwell program. Teachers need to also be aware that if the temperature is above 35 degrees and/or the weather conditions are extreme, Mt Rothwell will not accept students on site. In this situation, students undertaking this program will participate in an alternative/like program on site at Ecolinc.