Example Wetland Plant Identification Session Outline

This is the outline of what you will learn in the Wetland Plant Identification course. You can do one day or all three days.

Learning Outcomes

  • Examine where the different wetland vegetation zones are, the plant types that grow within them and what influences them (hydrology, soil type, water chemistry etc).
  • Use local common wetland plants to illustrate the key features used for identification purposes.
  • Learn the key characteristics that differentiate between plant families and genera.
  • Use the most common plant species to practice using field guides and keys.
  • Observe the same site as it transitions through the hydrological phases of; full, draw-down and drying.
  • Use site observations over the 6 month period to highlight how ecological drivers of wetlands influence wetland plants species, their life cycle and distribution.
  • Briefly relate how wetland plant ecology links to fauna, wetland connectivity, temporal variability (seasonal and annual) and nutrient cycling.

When:  There will be three one day sessions, all 9.00 – 4.30 pm:

Day 1October (Spring)Water edge/shallow marsh – identifying grasses, sedges and rushes
Day 2December (Summer)Deep Marsh/Floating and submerged aquatics
Day 3February/March (Autumn)Mud flat specialists

Participants are invited to bring along plant specimens to assist in identifying them.  Participants are also encouraged to bring along resources and information to share.  We also encourage group discussion in order to share experiences and learn together.

Day 1

Water edge/shallow marsh – identifying grasses, sedges and rushes

  • Introduce wetland origin, EVC’s, ecological drivers.
  • Illustrate wetland zones, seasonal physical characteristics, water quality, depth, temp, nutrients, and oxygen clarity soil moisture level.
  • Activities to illustrate the difference between monocotyledons and dicotyledons
  • Introduction to Monocotyledons plant parts
  • Activity to illustrate the differences between grasses, sedges, rushes and cumbungi
  • Keying out practice:
    • Grass – Amphibromous
    • Sedge – Elecocharis
    • Rushes – Juncus

Day 2

Deep Marsh/Floating and submerged aquatics

  • Examine and discuss wetland plant zonation at a number of sites
    • depth etc
    • wetting and drying (disturbance cycles)
    • light availability
    • chemistry (i.e. Carbonates etc)
    • Growth mechanisms- leaf types (heterogeneous leaves)
  • Use the coloured field guide find and identify the following plant groups.
  • For each group discuss:
    • What are they
    • Their ecological role
    • Main identification features.
  • FLOATING AQUATICS ACTIVITY:    Find Azolla, lemna and landontia
  • FLOATING ATTACHED with leaves at surface ACTIVITY: Find all three Potamogeton,  ludwigia and otelia
  • FLOATING ATTACHED – emergent leaves (find 3 species of Myriophyllum, Potamogeton)
  • Practice using Floral Keys, key out in classroom
    • ACTIVITY Key out Myriophyllum
    • ACTIVITY Key out Potamogeton
  • Discuss Resources and how to preserve specimens.

Day 3

Mud flat specialists

  • Presentation on Mudflats: Mudflat Ecology and overview
  • Zonation – Activity
  • The characteristics of Mud flats- Damien
    • Zone – depth etc
    • Soil types
    • timing of draw down and temperature
    • wetting and drying (disturbance cycles)
    • chemistry
  • Familiarise with different life forms (low growing, creeping herbs, larger herbs) as layed out in coloured field guide
    • Learn what to look for ie rooting nodes, opposite leaves etc
  • Mudflat exploration: Collect, label and identify as many species as possible usingn coloured field guide
  • In the field using Flora of Victoria keys:
    –       ACTIVITY, Key out Glinus
    –       ACTIVITY, Key out Persicaria
  • Wetland survey methodology discussion (ideally in wet and dry phase for at least 3 visits, early summer, late summer and autumn – in various climatic events)