How Do Small Changes Make Big Impacts on Ecosystems?

(Part 1) [v1.0] 


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In this first part of a two-part high school ecosystems unit, students start out examining data of the buffalo population in the Serengeti over the past fifty years. Competing ideas for why the population skyrocketed in a short period of time and then collapsed sometime later motivates students to investigate a variety of additional data sources. Exploration of each new data source raises further questions, and more potential suspects to investigate. As each new suspect is tracked down (resource competition, climate change, seasonal rainfall patterns, predators, disease, and fire), students incrementally develop a more and more complex ecosystem model that accounts for why some populations grow, some collapse, and others remain stable in the same ecosystem.


Click here to see a synopsis for part 2 of this unit.

This unit is part of the The inquiry hub (ihub) biology curriculum, a full-year high school biology course anchored in phenomena and aligned to NGSS.