Migrations

Instructional Level: High School

Driving Question(s):

How is a changing climate related to fragile ecosystems like vernal pools and how does that relationship impact biodiversity and, in particular, the spotted salamander?

 

Climate changes affect both the vernal pool and the spotted salamander in different ways.  A warming climate may mean less winter precipitation which leads to smaller vernal pools.  A warmer climate will stimulate earlier migration dates for the Salamander with smaller available habitat for reproduction.

LESSON PLAN STANDARDS:

Exploration

Students will review local historical weather data to determine what abiotic factors trigger the spotted salamander migration and will use these factors to predict the migration time given past calendar months. Students will use their findings to predict the migration date for salamanders at another vernal pool located in a different geographical area.

Guiding Question for Symbiosis With A BackBone

How is a changing climate related to fragile ecosystems like vernal pools and how does that relationship impact biodiversity and, in particular, the spotted salamander?

Climate changes affect both the vernal pool and the spotted salamander in different ways.  A warming climate may mean less winter precipitation which leads to smaller vernal pools.  A warmer climate will stimulate earlier migration dates for the Salamander with smaller available habitat for reproduction.

Objectives:

Students will:

  1. Analyze weather data sets.
  2. Use models to describe potential vernal pool locations.
  3. Use interactive calendars to make predictions about spotted salamander migration.
  4. Make migration predictions for nearby vernal pool locations.

Lesson Materials:

  • Laptop or device with internet connectivity.
  • Historical weather calendars that include months of known migration times.
  • ETA Instruction Sheet for examining weather data.
  • Paper or digital map of school’s county, town, or selected area with vernal pool marked (If site security is an issue, an artificial pool location could be used.)
  • Interactive weather calendars

Procedures:

Procedures – Preparation

Teachers should be familiarized with the following websites:

  • Weather underground’s historical data (www.wunderground.com -->at Menu Bar click More --> Historical Weather -->Enter Location/Zip, Month, Data, Year click View --> Location’s Submenu click Calendar for a full month report of weather --> month and or year can be changed at this time click View.  To print on single page, take screenshot of location and calendar, Print Screenshot for hard copy, digital record, or for Answer Key to evaluate student prediction for potential migration dates.)
  • Vermont’s Vernal Pool locator- https://val.vtecostudies.org/projects/vermont-vernal-pool-atlas/
  • Weather analysis of historical weather data to determine when migration occurs
  • Have students identity common abiotic factors that lead up to migrations (they should be identifying several days of warm up ~60°F, followed by measurable rainfall).
  • How to use the Claim, Evidence and Reasoning process with students (George Lucas Foundation, “My Dad is an Alien”)

Procedures –

  1. Students will examine 3 months from 2016 that includes the month of known migration (February, March and April).
  2. Students will examine the weather conditions and be able to identify the key factors that lead to migration displayed on the weather calendar generated from the Weather Underground website.
  3.  Students will examine 3 months from another year and predict when migration may have occurred using the interactive weather calendars. Months from 2015, 2017, and 2018 will be examined.
  4. Students will generate their own weather calendars for Feb, March and April prior to 2014 using the ETA Instructions Sheet for making predictions about migration.

Procedures – Explain

  1.  Student groups of 3-4 will use the process of Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning to explain when spotted salamanders migrated from their own weather calendars.
  2. Predictions will be shared with the class, including the CER process, that backs up the time of migration.

Procedures – Evaluate

  1.  Students will review the geographical range of the salamanders and select one other different area to retrieve historical weather data. For example, students use historical weather data from a vernal pool that is located in Vermont, from the Zip Code associated with your school, or with a vernal pool general location from the www.databasin.org website in Maryland.  Zip Codes will have to be searched based on the nearest town on the Maryland map.
  1.  Using the historical weather data from the other location, students will predict the salamander’s migration dates based on historical weather conditions.   The migration date prediction must be justified with a Weatherunderground data graphic, description of necessary habitat, topographic description, and land cover for that site.

Standards:

HS-LS2-6 Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using appropriate and sufficient evidence and scientific reasoning to defend and critique claims and explanations about the natural and designed world(s). Arguments may also come from current scientific or historical episodes in science.

HS-LS4-4 Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

HS-LS4-5 Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 9-12 builds on K-8 experiences and progresses to using appropriate and sufficient evidence and scientific reasoning to defend and critique claims and explanations about the natural and designed world(s). Arguments may also come from current or historical episodes in science.

References:

  • Link for Salamander Geographic Range: www.eol.org
  • Link for Vermont Vernal Pool: https://val.vtecostudies.org/projects/vermont-vernal-pool-atlas/
  • www.Databasin.org has some vernal pools mapped in Maryland.  The dataset is Vernal Pools (Level 2), 2016, Northeast   Mouse over  Explore à Click on Datasets àSearch for “Vernal Pools (Level 2) 2016, Northeast” à the dataset will load à Open in Map.  The New England data points have location coordinates associated but Maryland does not.  General locations of know vernal pools is shown.

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