Investigating Ecological Disturbance in Streams
The American Biology Teacher
Teaching students about ecological disturbance provides them with an understanding of a critical factor that shapes the structure and function of biological communities in environmental systems. This article describes four simple experiments and related curriculum that students can use to conduct inquiry around the theme of disturbance in stream ecosystems: insect drift, colonization, life history, and the intermediate disturbance hypothesis. Over five years, our students conducted these experiments 57 times; 79% of the experiments resulted in data that supported students’ hypotheses. Our findings show that the experiments can be used as a framework for inquiry-based learning about important ecological processes such as disturbance, dispersal, colonization, and succession. These experiments meet several of the Next Generation Science Standards, are easily and ethically conducted, and require very little equipment.
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Patrick M. Edwards, Megan Colley, Angie Shroufe; Investigating Ecological Disturbance in Streams. The American Biology Teacher 1 April 2021; 83 (4): 254–262. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2021.83.4.254