the amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) in a body of water important?
Yes, it is! Just like humans,
aquatic animals and plants need oxygen. As an example, fish
and some aquatic insects capture oxygen from the water using gills.
You may be asking yourself, how is oxygen in
water? Consider the following: if you put salt in a glass of water and
then stir this solution, the salt disappears. However, the
salt is still there. If you taste the water, it is salty. A similar thing happens with oxygen in
water! Molecules of water trap molecules of oxygen and keep it
in a dissolved form. Fish and some aquatic insects have gills;
gills allow these organisms to remove some of the dissolved oxygen
Just like humans, aquatic organism
need a certain amount of oxygen
to survive. Have you ever put a glass upside down over a burning candle?
After a few seconds, there is so little oxygen that the flame goes out.
Most organisms must receive a constant supply of oxygen, if these
organisms do not receive oxygen they will soon die.
Is the amount of dissolved oxygen in each of these
bodies of water different?
Yes, there is a huge difference! The whitewater
(left) probably contains as much oxygen as water can hold, while the bayou (right)
probably contains very little. There are several reasons that
the amount of dissolved oxygen is different in these two markedly
different bodies of water; these reasons will be explained in the
presentation portion of this unit.
In summary, most aquatic
organisms, just like land dwelling animals, need to "breathe"
oxygen to survive. Organisms must have a minimum amount of oxygen
survive. Unlike an increase in water temperature which can
stress or even kill aquatic organisms, an increase in dissolved oxygen
is not harmful. Although, there is a minimum
amount of dissolved oxygen required in water for organisms to
survive, there is no maximum amount or upper limit for dissolved
oxygen. Water can have too many hydrogen ions, nitrates, or
heavy metals dissolved in it, but, in terms of dissolved oxygen, "you
can't have too much of a good thing". A catfish that can
survive in relatively low dissolved oxygen environments (e.g. a
bayou), can also tolerate being in an environment having high levels
of dissolved oxygen (e.g. a fast moving, whitewater stream). Unfortunately, a trout living in
whitewater with high dissolved oxygen content cannot tolerate the low dissolved oxygen levels of
In this lesson, you will explore
the concept of dissolved
oxygen and discover how it can affect water quality.
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| Presentation | Activity
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