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Fish as Fertilizer

The Impacts of Salmon on Coastal Ecosystems



Author:

Mark L. Kuhlmann
Department of Biology
Hartwick College
kuhlmannm@hartwick.edu

Abstract:

In this case study, students examine data from a number of published studies of the effects of Pacific salmon on freshwater and riparian ecosystems. The case focuses on the interesting phenomenon of spawning salmon acting as nutrient conveyor belts, transporting nutrients from the ocean upstream into freshwater spawning areas and, in some cases, even onto land, reversing the more-typical downstream movement of nutrients. As students work at analyzing and interpreting graphical data, they will also increase their understanding of the principles of biogeochemical cycling and gain an appreciation for the interconnectedness of different types of ecosystems. The topic is appropriate for any course covering ecosystem ecology including, for example, general ecology, freshwater or marine ecology, and environmental science.

Objectives:
  • Analyze, interpret, and draw conclusions from graphical and tabular data.
  • Become familiar with the principles and significance of biogeochemical cycling.
  • Understand connections between marine, aquatic, and riparian ecosystems.
  • Understand the differences between experimental and observational studies.
Keywords: Pacific salmon; riparian ecosystem; stream ecosystem; biogeochemical cycles; graphical data; marine-derived nutrients; nitrogen; carbon; stable isotope analysis; fish; northwestern United States
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted, Jig-Saw, Journal Article
Language: English
Subject Headings: Ecology   Environmental Science   Marine Science / Oceanography   Botany / Plant Science  
Date Posted: 03/27/09
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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