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Andrea M.-K. Bierema
Academic Specialist
Center for Integrative Studies in General Science, Department of Integrative Biology
Michigan State University
Which Elephant Population Would You Protect? 

This case study has students analyze real population and climate data to address a problem in conservation. Many elephant populations exist in Africa, but if a conservation group had funding to supply a grant to just one population, which one should it be? This activity uses a jig-saw approach in which students first assume the role of a conservation grant applicant, using data sheets (examples included in the teaching notes) and performing additional research about their assigned country to determine the elephant population for which they will advocate. Students then change roles and adopt the viewpoint of a conservation grant program representative who must determine which country should receive the grant. This activity was originally designed for a non-majors environmental science course and a science majors introductory organismal biology course. It is also suitable for use at the high school level.