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 Informational text focuses on the migration habits of the grasshopper/locust and the gray whale.
Global exploration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries radically changed Western science, orienting philosophies of natural history to more focused fields like comparative anatomy, botany, and geology. In the United States, European scientific advances and home-grown ventures like the Wilkes Exploring Expedition to Antarctica and the Pacific inspired new endeavors in cartography, ethnography, zoology, and evolutionary theory, replacing rigid models of thought and classification with more fluid and active systems. They inspired literary authors as well. This class will examine some of the most remarkable of these authors--Herman Melville (Moby-Dick and "The Encantadas"), Henry David Thoreau (Walden), Sarah Orne Jewett (Country of the Pointed Firs), Edith Wharton (House of Mirth), Toni Morrison (A Mercy), among others--in terms of the subjects and methods they adopted, imaginatively and often critically, from the natural sciences.
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.
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!
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources uses a variety of tools and techniques to monitor wildlife, and to produce population estimates to better inform management decisions. Population estimates are used to look at long term trends, as well as setting harvest limits during hunting seasons for potentially vulnerable species. There are two count methods for generating population information: sample counts and total counts. In total counts, every individual of an intended geographic area is counted. For sample counts, a smaller fraction of individuals are counted and the data is used to interpolate population information for the entire geographic area. In this activity, you will create a model for these two different count methods and explore the advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.