B2 - Indicator Species

A set of revision cards to aid revision on indicator species.

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What are indicator species?

Indicator species indicate pollution - this is easy to remember from the name.

Some species survive only in polluted conditions, and some only in clean conditions.

This is how we can tell whether an area is polluted or not.

The presence of, or lack of, an indicator species tells us about the area.

The indicator species I will cover are;

  • Lichens
  • Mayfly Larvae
  • Water lice
  • Rat-tailed maggots
  • Sludgeworms
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Lichens

Lichens are used to monitor air quality.

If there's lots of them in the area, then the area is CLEAN.

They are damaged by pollution, so low levels of lichens show pollution in the air.

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Mayfly Larvae

Mayfly larvae are used to monitor water quality.

If there's lots of them in a stretch of water, then it is CLEAN.

They cannot survive in polluted water, so if there's little or no mayfly larvae, then the water is polluted.

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Water Lice

Water lice are used to monitor water quality.

If there's lots of them in a stretch of water, then it is POLLUTED.

They have adapted to be able to survive in polluted water, so if there are few or no water lice, then the water is clean.

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Rat-Tailed Maggots

Rat-tailed maggots are used to monitor water quality.

If there are large amounts of them in a stretch of water, then it is POLLUTED.

If there are few or no rat-tailed maggots, then the water is clean. This is because they are adapted to live in polluted water, and clean water would damage them.

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Sludgeworms

Sludgeworms are used to monitor water quality.

If there are lots of them in a stretch of water, then the water is POLLUTED.

If there are few or no sudgeworms in the water, then it is clean. This is because they are only adapted to live in polluted water.

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Quick Summary

So, the indicator species used for showing LOW POLLUTION LEVELS are;

  • lichens
  • mayfly larvae

The indicator species used for showing MEDIUM POLLUTION LEVELS are;

  • water lice

The indicator species used for showing HIGH POLLUTION LEVELS are;

  • rat-tailed maggots
  • sludgeworms
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