Skip to Content

Responding to a Changing Climate

How Vernal Pool Plant Communities React


Author(s)

Christopher J. Javornik
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Colorado
christopher.javornik@colorado.edu
Akasha M. Faist
Department of Animal and Range Sciences
New Mexico State University
afaist@nmsu.edu

Abstract

This case study uses a jigsaw activity to introduce students to four specific plant responses to climate change: elevational range shifts, phenology shifts, community shifts, and changes in biodiversity. Students become "experts" on one of these responses by reading an article (from Nature, Science, or American Journal of Botany; not included with the case) on their assigned topic and then sharing their expertise with others in class. In order to hone their understanding and increase retention on these topics, students then learn about plant communities found in a specific system-vernal pools or seasonal wetlands typical of Mediterranean climates (a PowerPoint presentation on this topic is included). Students accomplish several small group tasks to assess how different vernal pool plant communities have responded to fluctuations in annual weather patterns and predict how these communities may respond to greater weather variability resulting from future climatic change. This case was written for mid- to upper-level ecology, plant ecology, botany, or environmental studies courses. The material covered may also be suitable for classes examining the role of weather variability/climate change in relation to plants.


Objectives

  • Understand the following plant responses to climate change: elevational range shifts (attrition and community shifts); phenological shifts (over extended time periods); community shifts (novel competition and species response); and changes in biodiversity (resistance and resilience).
  • Assess how specific vernal pool plant communities have responded to fluctuations in annual weather patterns.
  • Predict how specific vernal pool plant communities may respond to future climate events.

Keywords

plants; weather variability; community shifts; vernal pools; range shifts; altered biodiversity; climate change; changing phenology

Topical Areas

N/A

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

N/A, Directed, Interrupted, Jig-Saw

Language

English

Subject Headings

Ecology  |   Environmental Science  |   Natural Resource Management  |   Botany / Plant Science  |  


Date Posted

2/16/2018

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Supplemental Materials

The PowerPoint presentation below can be used to help explain the nature and ecological importance of vernal pools (see teaching notes to this case study for details).


  plant_responses.pptx

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Comments