The Fish Kill Mystery
Department of Biology
North Carolina State University
In this case study, students speculate on what may have caused a major fish kill in an estuary in North Carolina. In the process, they explore how land runoff and excess nutrients affect aquatic communities, and learn about the complex life cycle of the dinoflagellate Pfiesteria. The case is appropriate for an introductory environmental science course, a general biology course that covers ecology, or a general zoology course.
- To explain how land runoff may affect aquatic communities.
- To describe in detail two effects that excess nutrients may have on aquatic ecosystems.
- To describe the complex life cycle of Pfiesteria as an example of dinoflagellate biology.
- To describe how human activities have contributed to problems such as eutrophication, which may come back to influence human health.
KeywordsFishkill; fish kill; eutrophication; Pfiesteria piscicida; aquatic ecosystems; dinoflagellate; land runoff, excess nutrients; estuaries; estuary; nutrient influx; North Carolina
Topical AreasRegulatory issues
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsRole-Play
Subject HeadingsEnvironmental Science | Ecology | Biology (General) | Zoology |
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The following animations are referred to in the case.
Dissolved Oxygen for December 2001
Neuse River Dissolved Oxygen Profile 2005
Dissolved Oxygen for August 2002