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Topics Explored: Biodiversity, Tragedy of the Commons, Riparian Ecosystems, Claim-Evidence-Reasoning, Percent Change

This case study explores the life history of beavers (Castor canadensis), the largest rodent in North America and one of nature’s greatest ecosystem engineers. This case study also explores the importance of beavers in the foundation of America, their exploitation and population decline, their eventual return, and current conflicts with humans. Answer key included.

Case Study: Beavers (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.
    1.3 Describe the global distribution and principal environmental aspects of aquatic biomes.
    1.7 Explain the steps and reservoir interactions in the hydrologic cycle.
    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. 
    2.4 Describe ecological tolerance.
    2.5 Explain how natural disruptions, both short- and long-term, impact an ecosystem.
    2.6 Describe how organisms adapt to their environment. 
    8.4 Describe the impacts of human activity on wetlands and mangroves.
    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:
    2.1.7 Describe and explain population interactions using examples of named species. 
    2.6.1 Explain the concepts of limiting factors and carrying capacity in the context of population growth.
    2.6.5 Describe the concept and processes of succession in a named habitat. 
    3.1.2 Calculate and explain, from given data, the values of crude brith rate, crude death rate, fertility, doubling time and natural increase rate. 
    3.5.2 Compare and contrast the efficiency of terrestrial and aquatic food production systems. 


    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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