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Topics Explored: Nitrogen Cycle, Transformation of Energy, Trophic Levels, Food Chains, Food Webs, Population Interactions, Tragedy of the Commons, Ecosystem Services, Eutrophication, Human Impact on Aquatic Ecosystems, Aquaculture
This case study explores the unique life cycle of oysters (Family Ostreidae) and their impact on aquatic marine environment, biogeochemical cycles, humans, and the economy. both on the food web and the nitrogen cycle. Answer key included.

Case Study: Oysters (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-ESS2-6. Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere. 
    HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.


    AP® Environmental Science Learning Objectives:
    1.5 Explain the steps and reservoir interactions in the nitrogen cycle.
    1.7 Explain the steps and reservoir interactions in the hydrologic cycle.
    1.9 Explain how energy flows and matter cycles through trophic levels.
    1.10 Determine how the energy decreases as it flows through ecosystems.
    1.11 Describe food chains and food webs, and their constituent members by trophic level.
    2.3 Describe ecological tolerance. Describe the role of island biogeography in evolution.
    2.4 Describe ecological tolerance.
    3.4 Describe carrying capacity. Describe the impact of carrying capacity on ecosystems.
    3.5 Explain how resource availability affects population growth.
    5.1 Explain the concept of the tragedy of the commons.
    5.8 Describe causes of and problems related to overfishing.
    5.16 Describe the benefits and drawbacks of aquaculture.
    8.2 Describe the impacts of human activities on aquatic ecosystems.
    8.5 Explain the environmental effects of excessive use of fertilizers and detergents on aquatic ecosystems.

    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:
    2.1.2 Define the term trophic level.
    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 an ecosystem.
    2.6.1 Explain the concepts of limiting factors and carrying capacity in the context of population growth.
    3.2.3 Explain the dynamic nature of the concept of a resource.
    5.1.1 Define the term pollution.
    5.1.2 Distinguish between the terms point source pollution and nonpoint source pollution, and outline the challenges they present for management.
    5.1.3 State the major sources of pollutants.
    5.3.1 Outline approaches to pollution management with respect to figure 5.
    5.4.1 Outline the processes of eutrophication.
    5.4.2 Evaluate the impacts of eutrophication.
    5.4.3 Describe and evaluate pollution management strategies with respect to eutrophication.


    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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