Ballona Wetlands Field Study

Author(s): Peggy Klipfel LeDuff & Jennifer LeDuff
Field Trip - Teacher's Guide
SED 695B; Fall 2005

Topics addressed:

Description of Field Trip

Ballona Wetlands offers many aspects of study, such as:
-bird watching
-plant identification
-history of Native American people
-human impact on the wetlands

Standards addressed: Six Grade Science Standards
Ecology (Life Science)
5. Organisms in ecosystems exchange energy and nutrients among themselves and with the environment.
As a basis for understanding this concept, students know:
c. populations of organisms can be categorized by the functions they serve in an ecosystem.
d. different kinds of organisms may play similar ecological roles in similar biomes.
e. the number and types of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and abiotic factors, such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition.

Background Information
Over 90% of the wetlands in the United States are gone, drained and paved over for development.

Ballona Wetlands once encompassed over 2,000 acres, much of Culver City, Marina del Rey, Venice, and parts of West Los Angeles.

Due to human activity and urban development, Ballona Creek is less than 190 acres in size.

Current restoration plans include additional acres of native terrestrial habitats for a total of 340 acres in total.

The Ballona Wetlands consist of five systems:

1. Salt marsh
2. Freshwater marsh
3. Riparian corridor
4. Bluffs
5. Dunes

1. Playa Vista Development
2. Migrating Path of birds from Alaska to South America
3. Breeding grounds birds and fish
4. Surface runoff water from neighborhoods
5. Traffic
6. Air Quality
7. Non-native predators: plants and animals




Study Guide: to be completed before the field trip
1. What is the definition of a wetlands?
2. What is the definition of brackish water?
3. What is the function of the wetlands or marshes?
4. What types of plants live in wetlands?
5. What types of animals live in wetlands?
6. What types of animals use the wetlands on their migratory travels?
7. How do introduced plants and animals change the environment?
8. Why do introduced species succeed over native plants and animals?
9. How do introduced plants and animals get established into a new environment?
10. What are some ways that humans have introduced non-native species into Ballona?


Questions to Complete
during field trip or after field trip using the Internet

1. List five species of birds you observed at Ballona Wetlands.

2. List three species of native plants you observed at Ballona Wetlands.

3. List three species of introduced plants at Ballona.

4. List four native animal species of Ballona that are currently either endangered or threatened.

5. List four ways humans have changed the Ballona Wetlands over the past 50 years.

6. List five organizations that control or that help preserve Ballona Wetlands.

7. List four current environment concerns of Ballona Wetlands.

8. List two ways individuals can help with the Ballona Wetlands Restoration.


These are photographs from the Ballona Flood
Channel similar to the Los Angeles River.
Notice the variety of birds in this waterway.

Girl Scout Troop# 287 spent the afternoon with Roy van de Hoek of the Ballona Institute and Marcia Hanscom of the Wetlands Action Network. The troop is currently working on their Silver Award and is deciding on their service project which will focus on the wetlands.

Some environmental groups are removing introduced species and planting native species to provide food for such animals as the El Segundo blue butterfly.

Part of Ballona Wetlands are off limits. People must arrange a tour through one of several environment groups to see these parts of Ballona. Some environmental groups are hoping that the wetlands will be rule by the State Parks to ensure access for its citizens and for protection for the wetlands.

The above photo shows part of the natural dunes of the wetlands. Environmental groups have established pathways to eliminate more damage to the vegetation and dunes.

The photo below on the left shows one of many salt bars which form during the dry seasons. As the seawater evaporates, salt deposits are left behind. The photo below on the right shows one of many native flowers.


References & Links:


This is the California red-legged frog that lives in Ballona.
The El Segundo blue butterfly is also a native to Ballona.
This plant is the Marsh Heliotrope, a native to Ballona.

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