Grazing in Vernal Pools
Restoration Management Decisions
Department of Animal and Range Sciences
New Mexico State University
This case study in restoration ecology utilizes two peer reviewed articles that ask a similar question about the effects of grazing in temporary wetlands, yet the articles have different conclusions about these effects. Students are challenged to think critically about how land management decisions, especially ecological restoration projects, are not black and white and can have unique outcomes. Using California vernal pools, or temporary wetlands, as the chosen ecosystem, students have the opportunity to learn about an ecologically dynamic habitat. In addition to learning about vernal pools, students construct an argument based on evidence while also identifying potential biases when the same question is tackled from different perspectives. The case was designed for an upper division environmental science or ecology course and would be appropriate for any course that involves restoration ecology, land management or scientific policy. Two optional PowerPoint presentations are included that provide background, detail, and structure to the classroom tasks.
- Use evidence to construct an argument.
- Compare and contrast ecological studies in a similar system with opposing viewpoints.
- Use vernal pool ecological relationships to help make land management decisions.
- Identify and work through biases to reach a management decision.
Keywordsvernal pools; wetlands; restoration ecology; grazing; cattle
Topical AreasRegulatory issues, Scientific argumentation
Educational LevelUndergraduate upper division, Professional (degree program)
Type / MethodsDilemma/Decision, Directed, Discussion, Journal Article, Role-Play
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Ecology | Environmental Science | Natural Resource Management |
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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.
The PowerPoint presentations below are optional and can be shown in class to provide structure to classroom activities and background.
Day 1 Presentation (vernal_grazing_day1.pptx)
Day 2 Presentation (vernal_grazing_day2.pptx)