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Fishing for Answers in the Gulf of Mexico's Dead Zone



Author:

Kristina Hannam
Department of Biology
SUNY Geneseo
hannam@geneseo.edu

Abstract:

This “clicker case” addresses the eutrophication of aquatic systems caused by human activities. "Susan" is a biology student working at a seafood restaurant on the Gulf of Mexico. She discovers that the restaurant doesn't serve locally caught shrimp because shrimp populations are in decline. While searching for an explanation, Susan learns about the nitrogen cycle as well as interactions between species, the abiotic and biotic environment, and multiple ecosystems (terrestrial and aquatic). Developed for a large introductory biology course, the case combines the use of student personal response systems ("clickers") with case teaching methods and formats. It is presented in class using a series of PowerPoint slides (~3.8MB) punctuated by questions that students respond to using their clickers. The case could be adapted for use without these technologies.

Objectives:
  • Understand that human activities can alter nutrient cycles, biological communities and interactions among ecosystems.
  • Understand the process of eutrophication and stratification of aquatic systems.
  • Use data to evaluate support for multiple hypotheses.
  • Appreciate that ecological knowledge is important to making decisions that impact our lives.
Keywords: Eutrophication; nitrogen cycle; nitrate flux; nutrients; fertilizer; algae; dissolved oxygen; aquatic hypoxia; watershed; pollution; sediment plume; fishing; shrimping; Dead Zone; Gulf of Mexico; Mississippi Basin
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF, PowerPoint
Type/Method: Clicker, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Environmental Science   Ecology   Marine Science / Oceanography   Botany / Plant Science  
Date Posted: 03/24/10
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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