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Merav Ben-David
Professor
bendavid@uwyo.edu
Department of Zoology and Physiology
University of Wyoming
Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Managing for Multiple Use in National Forests

This case study has for its central theme the importance of tree size in both ecology and natural resource management and is designed to introduce components of forest management and policy, the importance of ecological relationships, and the challenge of managing resources for a variety of uses. Students evaluate relevant forest policy and management and discuss the related challenges. They then use basic trigonometry to estimate tree height and board feet in three different management areas from angle measurements obtained using a clinometer. Finally they consider the importance of tree height and forest management on ecological relationships among wildlife and their habitat. The case can be used as an introduction to natural resource management and the importance of multiple use management strategies; as a review of trigonometry and the use of spreadsheet software; or as an example of how mathematical concepts and science are used in natural resource management. This case was developed for use in an introductory environmental science or wildlife management course but could also be used in an advanced science high school course.


The Mystery of the Missing Martens 

This interrupted case study introduces basic modeling to investigate a decline in an American marten population on an island in Southeast Alaska. Two summer field technicians working on a long-term field ecology project for one of their professors notice that there are fewer marten captures this year. Through discussions with their professor, conversations with a local fur trapper, and based on their own observations, they develop a plan to model the population and the potential causes of the decline to solve the mystery. Students use Excel or other database software along with life tables and introductory population ecology to investigate three potential causes of the marten population decline. This case was developed for use in an environmental science or wildlife management course but could also be used in an advanced science high school course or general ecology course. It would be beneficial for students to have some background in statistics including how to interpret R-squared values, p-values, and 95% confidence intervals.