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Topics Explored: Biodiversity, Population, Ecosystems, Experimental Design

This case study explores the history of the American bison (Bison bison) in North America, and examines their near-extinction followed by their remarkable partial recovery and hopes for expansion of their current habitat. Students will apply the percent change equation and design an experiment to determine the effect of bison on the Great Plains ecosystem. Answer key included.

Case Study: American Bison (Teacher & Student Edition)

  • ZIP file containing 2 PDF files 
    (1 Teacher Edition and 1 Student Edition)

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):
    HS-LS2-1. Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.
    HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
    HS-LS2-6. Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
    HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
    HS-ESS2-5. Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
    HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.

    AP® Environmental Science Learning Objectives:
    1.1 Explain how the availability of resources influences species interactions.
    1.2 Describe the global distribution and principal environmental aspects of terrestrical biomes. 
    1.9 Explain how energy flows and matter cycles through trophic levels.
    1.10 Determine how the energy decreases as it flows through ecosystems.
    2.1 Explain levels of biodiversity and their importance to ecosystems.
    2.2 Describe ecosystem services. Describe the results of human disruption to ecosystem services. 
    2.3 Describe island biogeorgraphy. Describe the role of island biogeography in evolution. 
    2.5 Explain how natural disruptions, both short- and long-term, impact an ecosystem.
    2.6 Describe how organisms adapt to their environment. 
    9.9 Explain how species become endangered and strategies to combat the problem.

    AP® Environmental Science Practices:
    1: Explain environmental concepts, processes, and models presented in written format. 
    2: Analyze visual representations of environmental concepts and processes. 
    3: Analyze sources of information about environmental issues. 
    4: Analyze research studies that test environmental principles. 
    5: Analyze and interpret quantitative data represented in tables, charts, and graphs.
    6: Apply quantitative methods to address environmental concepts.
    7: Propose and justify solutions to environmental problems.

    IB® Environmental Systems Learning Objectives:
    1.1.3 Define the terms open system, closed system and isolated system.
    1.1.5 Explain the nature of equilibria.
    1.1.6 Define and explain the principles of positive feedback and negative feedback.
    2.1.3 Identify and explain trophic levels in food chains and food webs selected from the local environment.
    2.1.7 Describe and explain population interactions using examples of named species.
    2.5.1 Explain the role of producers, consumers and decomposers in the ecosystem. 
    2.5.3 Describe and explain the transfer and transformation of energy as it flows through an ecosystem.
    2.5.4 Describe and explain the transfer and transformation of materials as they cycle within anecosystem.
    7.1.3 Discuss how these philosophies influence the decision-making process with respect toenvironmental issues covered in this course.
    7.1.5 Compare and contrast the environmental value systems of two named societies.
    7.1.6 Justify your personal viewpoint on environmental issues


    AP® is a registered trademark registered by the College Board®. IB® is a trademark registered by the International Baccalaureate Organization®. This work/product/service has been developed independently from and is not endorsed by the College Board® or the International Baccalaureate Organization®. 

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