The animal alphabet is a series of slides that introduces students to Wisconsin wildlife species and other basic ecology vocabulary. Each slide has a letter of the alphabet and associated animal or ecology term. Educators can use this as a daily activity, introducing one slide each day, or present all in one sitting. The activity utilizes photographs from Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras (except where noted) and can be used to assist in introducing the Snapshot Wisconsin program.
The goal of this lesson is to introduce students to the advantages behind the colors and patterns displayed on Wisconsin critters using a collection of photos from Snapshot Wisconsin, a citizen science project utilizing a statewide network of trail cameras. This lesson plan includes an optional outdoor activity.
This activity complements Snapshot Wisconsin, a volunteer-based wildlife monitoring project involving a statewide network of trail cameras. In this activity, students will use the trail camera photos to make observations and ask scientific questions. Students gain experience with the scientific process by making detailed observations and using these observations to pose questions that can be answered by further observations and/or experiments to gain insights into important ecological processes.
Students are first introduced to the practice of making observations and posing questions using a single trail camera photo taken at a unique place and time. Students then make observations based on groups of photos taken at various locations or during different time periods to identify trends across space and time. This lesson plan includes an optional activity that takes students outside to make observations.
In this activity, students will learn about different measures of biodiversity: richness, Shannon diversity index, and evenness. Students will begin by calculating these indices by hand using a very small sample data set. Students will then read an overview of the Northern Lakes and Forests and Southern Wisconsin Till Plains, two different Wisconsin ecoregions, and use Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to calculate and compare biodiversity from a Snapshot Wisconsin database
A key component of wildlife management is understanding the impact that humans have on their surrounding environment. In this activity students will begin to explore the human impacts that their school yard is experiencing from air, soil, and water pollution.
This activity reviews the concept of trophic cascades. Trophic cascades occur when predators reduce the abundance or change the activity of their prey, thereby allowing species in the next trophic level to increase in number. These indirect effects by the predator can trickle down (or cascade) to many lower levels of the food chain. In a classic example, sea otters protect kelp forests, sea otters protect kelp forests by controlling the abundance of urchins that graze upon the kelp. In the absence of otters, urchins consume most of the kelp and negatively affect other organisms that live in the kelp forests.
Trophic cascades have been described in numerous ecosystems ranging from kelp forests of the Pacific Ocean to arctic islands, to Central American jungles, to salt marshes. In this activity student use organism cards to build examples of trophic cascades based in different ecosystems, including several in Wisconsin!