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En Garde! Animal Structures and What They Mean

In most animals, the drive to breed and produce offspring is strong. However, most males live their whole lives without having the chance to breed. ...


A Strange Fish Indeed

Through a series of fictionalized diary entries, this case recounts the 1939 discovery by Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer (and identification by J.L.B ...


A Struggle for Power in China: The Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam in China is one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams, providing energy for millions of people. However, the dam's constru ...


A Trip to the Beach

This interrupted case study, designed for an introductory biology or environmental science course, introduces students to the complexity of ecosyst ...


Animals Can Run Away, but Plants Must Stay

In this PowerPoint-driven case study, students consider the many challenges faced by plants and discuss which of these might induce a morphological ...


Are We Too Clean?

This case study focuses on the relationship between the microbiome (the suite of species that live in or on the human body) and autoimmune and alle ...


As the Worm Turns

At what point in evolutionary development does a group of individuals become two distinct species? This case addresses that fundamental question by ...


Blood Suckers! A Case Study on Evolution and Speciation

This directed case study in PowerPoint format focuses on the London Underground Mosquito, Culex molestus, and its potential relationship t ...


Breakfast of Champions

This case study was developed for an upper-level undergraduate evolution course in order to provide an example of natural selection in hominids and ...


Building a More Intricate Web

This case study follows two beginning undergraduate researchers on a quest for a summer research project related to food web ecology. While writing ...


But It's Just a Bottle of Water

Bottled water, popular among students, is big business even though issues surrounding it related to health and safety as well as its environmental ...


Butterflies in the Stomach

Why is the North American population of monarch butterflies declining? In 1999, a study published in the journal Nature suggested that a v ...


Butterfly Hunt

This case study uses an interactive activity to illustrate density dependence in ecology classes. We developed a "hunt" using paper butterflies wit ...


Can Suminoe Oysters Save Chesapeake Bay?

This dilemma case explores the controversy over introducing non-native oysters to the Chesapeake Bay as a means of improving its ecological and eco ...


Carbon Balance of Forest Thinning and Bioenergy Production

This interrupted case study introduces students to the concept of carbon storage and how land management decisions can affect this vital ecosystem ...


Caribou Conservation Conundrum

As a Government of Canada biologist, "Rachael Mercer" faces the task of advising the Environment Minister on whether a proposed wolf cull should be ...


Cat vs. Bird: Another Look at Complexity in Conservation

This clicker case is an adaptation of a case by Loren Byrne that told the true story of a Texas man who killed a cat that was killing piping plover ...


Cauldron of Democracy

This case study explores the controversy surrounding Yellowstone bison (Bison bison) and the relationship between wildlife management and ...


Community-Based Management and Conservation in Africa

Niko lives in Namibia and is about to attend a community meeting at which the fate of his family's re-settlement will be decided. He is not sure wh ...


Complexity in Conservation

Conservation biology focuses on the scientific study and practice of preventing biodiversity loss. Many complex sociocultural factors affect the su ...


Conversations with Fireflies

This case explores the aggressive mimicry behavior of the femme fatale firefly - female fireflies in the genus Photuris that mimic the fla ...


Coping with Infection

This interrupted case study introduces two distinct, but not mutually exclusive, strategies for defending against parasites: resistance and toleran ...


Could Grazing Be Dangerous? Ask the Cows!

This case study introduces important issues related to invasive species and noxious weeds that have particular ecological and agricultural importan ...


Counting Sheep

In this case study, students hear arguments on both sides of a debate over wildlife management and must integrate ethical and scientific perspectiv ...


Crazy About Cryptids! An Ecological Hunt for Nessie and Other Legendary Creatures

Who wouldn't want to go in search of a creature like Bigfoot, Yeti, or the Loch Ness Monster?  Using the science of ecology, students do exact ...


Darwin's Finches and Natural Selection

In this "clicker case," students learn about natural selection through the research of Peter and Rosemary Grant and colleagues on the finches of th ...


Dead Fish in Bear Pond

This interrupted case study introduces students to the complexity of understanding natural variation in ecosystems through time in the absence of l ...


Dengue in the Landscape

This interrupted case engages students in issues contributing to the increase of dengue fever in Jamaica. The overall goal of the case is to make c ...


Disappearing Marine Iguanas

In this interrupted case study, students apply the scientific method to probe possible reasons behind declining marine iguana populations in the Ga ...


Do Corridors Have Value in Conservation?

This case study discusses conservation corridors as a means to reduce the problems of population size and isolation in a fragmented habitat. In an ...


Does the Matrix Matter?

In this case study, students apply principles of landscape ecology, experimental design, and data interpretation to examine alternative explanation ...


Dolphin Deaths: A Case Study in Environmental Toxicology

This case study examines a variety of biological factors that may have been involved in the 2013 dolphin "unusual mortality event" (UME) on the Eas ...


Dredge Today, Restore Tomorrow

In this case study, students role-play members of a task force whose task it is to advise the Director of the National Park Service (their instruct ...


Dust to Dust

Tom and his grandfather, a retired high school chemistry teacher, are talking about a National Geographic television documentary titled “Waki ...


Eating PCBs from Lake Ontario - Is There an Effect or Not?

This case is based on an actual news release reporting on research about the effects of eating Lake Ontario fish contaminated with PCBs. Developed ...


Ecology of Individuals: Using Game Theory to Understand Animal Behavior

This case study is based on the game theory developed by John Maynard Smith where two behavioral strategies ("Hawks" and "Doves") compete over a co ...


Ecotourism: Who Benefits?

The main objective of this case is to have students critically examine the costs and the benefits associated with ecotourism, a form of  touri ...


Evolution and Plasticity in Guppies

This case study focuses on the relationship between evolution and plasticity using a hands-on, inquiry-based approach. Students view examples from ...


Evolution by Natural Selection in Oldfield Mice

The theory of evolution by natural selection is simple, elegant, and profound. Yet, a large number of undergraduate students including biology majo ...


Evolution in Action

This case study is based on Dr. Richard Lenski’s ongoing studies of evolution in E. coli. Students are introduced to prokaryotic bio ...


Exaggerated Traits and Breeding Success in Widowbirds

Sexual selection has led to the evolution of interesting traits and behaviors in many animal species. In widowbirds, males undergo a dramatic chang ...


Exotics

This case examines the biological, ecological, social, political, and economic factors surrounding exotic species as well as the role of resource m ...


Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis

This case is based on a research paper about the lignin content of genetically modified corn published in the American Journal of Botany. ...


First in Flight, Last in Wetlands Preservation?

Developed for an introductory environmental studies course, this case study explores the ecological, economic, and legislative issues associated wi ...


Fish as Fertilizer

In this case study, students examine data from a number of published studies of the effects of Pacific salmon on freshwater and riparian ecosystems ...


Fish Out of (Salt) Water

This interrupted case study is based on a journal article that describes the rapid adaptation of a population (in this case, steelhead trout) in re ...


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

This “clicker case” addresses the eutrophication of aquatic systems caused by human activities. "Susan" is a biology student working at ...


From Prairies to Corn Fields for Fuel

With increasing U.S. government support for biofuel production in the late 2000s came increased pressure to convert more land to cornfields for eth ...


Global Climate Change: Evidence and Causes

This “clicker case” begins by assessing students’ impressions of global climate change and the role that human activities play in ...


Global Climate Change: Impact and Remediation

This “clicker case” is a continuation of another case in our collection, “Global Climate Change: Evidence and Causes,” in w ...


Global Climate Change: What Does it Look Like?

In this interrupted case study, Ph.D.-paleoclimatologist-turned-TV-meteorologist Sara Fahrenheit finds herself projected into a future climate that ...


Grazing in Vernal Pools

This case study in restoration ecology utilizes two peer reviewed articles that ask a similar question about the effects of grazing in temporary we ...


How Many More Thymes? A Case of Phytochemical Defense

This clicker case addresses several concepts related to the evolutionary ecology of herbivore defenses. A survey of several different studies that ...


Impacts of Climate Change on Pinyon Pine Cone Production

In this interrupted case study, students explore how changing climate may affect cone production in pinyon pine (Pinus edulis). Students b ...


Improving on Nature?

In 1958, black bass were introduced into Lake Atitlan in the highlands of western Guatemala as a way to attract tourism and boost the local economy ...


Indigenous Knowledge and the Search for Medicine

This case study is based on a real scenario in which a high-profile ethnobotanical study in Chiapas, Mexico, ended when local and international org ...


Is Guaiacum Sanctum Effective Against Arthritis?

Dr. Beth Tonoany, a tropical population ecologist, is studying an unusual tree, Guaiacum sanctum, in the tropical forests of Central Ameri ...


Is Iron Fertilization Good for the Sea?

This case study describes experiments to seed the ocean with iron to encourage algae growth. It explores how human activities contribute to greenho ...


Joel E. Greengiant Learns About Peas

This case study follows purveyors of peas, Joel E. and Jolene Greengiant, as they learn about the origin, biochemistry, genetics and eventual artif ...


Katrina's Troubled Waters

This case study explores some of the health issues brought to light during the flooding in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina. The case encour ...


Kill the Aliens: Controlling Leafy Spurge

The majority of people in the world interact with nature in an urban setting. Management issues in urban parks tend to be more challenging than in ...


Killing Coyote

In this interrupted case study, students view a documentary film about a coyote hunting contest and then assume the role of various stakeholders in ...


Kudz-who? and Other Questions of Invasive Species

It is now well known that non-native species have the potential to be harmful to an ecosystem, but that wasn't always the case, and getting rid of ...


Las alas del Diablo

Why are chilies so hot? This case study begins with a story about an undergraduate student who is inspired to learn about capsaicin production in c ...


Life Tables, Darwin’s Finches, and the Dynamics of Small Island Populations

This case study uses Darwin’s finches to teach students about life tables. Life tables are tables of statistics that relate to life expectanc ...


Lost? Ask a Turtle

This case study examines the events surrounding the hatching and migration of loggerhead sea turtles, specifically what mechanisms they use to head ...


Making It Fit: Using Excel to Analyze Biological Systems

In this case, students read about a biologist who needs to determine how to analyze age-at-length data, a common situation in fisheries biology. Th ...


Mathematics in Conservation

This interrupted case study teaches probability theory and transmission genetics through their application to the conservation of the endangered Fl ...


Mini Cases on Choosing Appropriate Statistical Tests for Ecological Data

This set of mini cases on the ecology of eastern cottontail rabbits is designed to give students practical experience using statistics in a scienti ...


Mom Always Liked You Best

This interrupted case study is based on a journal article on the parenting behavior of American coots. Working through the case, students develop h ...


Monarchs and Milkweed

This interrupted case study was written to help students understand the interplay and relatedness of metabolism in producers and consumers. The sto ...


Monkey Brains

This case study in comparative physiology explores the connections between physiology, evolution and behavior. Students assume the role of research ...


Mutualism

This case explores two-species interactions, especially mutualism, and presents students with a problem, namely, the inconsistent treatment of the ...


My Brother's Keeper

In this interrupted case study, students work in teams to interpret behavioral data with respect to evolutionary biology.  Specifically, the c ...


Mystery in Alaska

This interrupted case study highlights the importance of energy considerations within food chains by examining the population decline of Steller se ...


No Bats in the Belfry

This interrupted case study investigates the geographic origin of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus). WNS i ...


Nutrient Cycles and Pollution, Lake Michigan Style

This “clicker case” introduces students to the basics of nutrient cycling using a recent example of the expansion of a refinery on Lake ...


Oil in the Amazon

In this case study, students participate in a game in which they assume the roles of various stakeholders in a proposed oil and gas proje ...


On a Wing and a Prayer

The essential elements of this dilemma case are based on a real-life wetland mitigation problem. A biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servic ...


One Whale or Two or … ?

This case study focuses on the intersection of defining a scientific species and defining a legal species. The compelling story of Lolita, an orca ...


Peppered Moths and the Industrial Revolution

This interrupted case study was written for students to gain a better understanding of evolutionary concepts and principles as they develop their s ...


Plant Transpiration

This flipped case study is formatted as a PowerPoint presentation that uses group experimentation to encourage active learning in a large science c ...


Poor Devils

Cancer is usually thought to be a disease that affects individuals. But could cancer evolve to become infectious? This case follows the research on ...


Prairie Garden of Troubles

This "clicker case" was developed for a general biology course for non-majors. It focuses on prairie habitat ecology and restoration. Jim, a young ...


Rabbit Calicivirus Disease - Magic Bullet or Pandora's Box?

The characters in this dilemma case, representing the scientific community and government, must make a decision about whether or not to release a v ...


Reproductive Isolation in Columbines

This clicker case uses plant-pollinator interactions in columbines as a biological scenario to teach students about evolution, reproductive isolati ...


Responding to a Changing Climate

This case study uses a jigsaw activity to introduce students to four specific plant responses to climate change: elevational range shifts, phenolog ...


Response to Plant Invasion

This interrupted case study provides students with an opportunity to compare and contrast methods for controlling spotted knapweed, an invasive spe ...


Restoring Resilience: Changing the Landscape Legacy in Patagonia

Sheep ranching has destroyed habitat and decimated species in many areas of the world, but in Patagonia declining wool prices provide an opportunit ...


Revolt of the Fungus People

This interrupted case study for the flipped classroom examines the interaction of plants and their mycorrhizal partners. The latter is one of the m ...


Salton, A Sea of Controversy

The Salton Sea is an “accidental” lake that receives used irrigation water from the Colorado River. Humans have profoundly altered the ...


Sealing the Deal

This case study uses a PowerPoint-driven approach combined with role-playing to explore issues surrounding the grey seal population off the coast o ...


Search for the Missing Sea Otters

Using a progressive disclosure format, this case study teaches students how to apply ecological principles to a real-life ecological problem, namel ...


Seeing the Forest for the Trees

This case study has for its central theme the importance of tree size in both ecology and natural resource management and is designed to introduce ...


Selection on a Case by Case Basis

This "clicker case" gives students an opportunity to apply their understanding of three different types of selection (directional, stabilizing, and ...


Shooting the Poop

This group-based case study is based on research by Dr. Martha Weiss using silver-spotted skipper caterpillars (Epargyreus clarus (Lepidop ...


Si el Norte Fuera el Sur

In this case study, students are given the task of developing a recovery plan to protect a recently discovered population of Central American squir ...


Taking the Time to Understand the Uptick in Lyme

This clicker case study is based on the true story of Ella Buss, a young girl diagnosed with Lyme borreliosis (Lyme disease), one of the most frequ ...


Testing for Grazer Adaptation to Toxic Algae

The intent of this interrupted case study is to present a clear example of both the scientific method and evolutionary adaptation in a model system ...


The Bear Facts

In this decision case, students consider the pros and cons of reintroducing grizzly bears into the northwestern United States as they learn about n ...


The Big Bad Wolf or Symbol of the American Wilderness?

Students enrolled in natural resource programs typically have classroom experience in science-based curricula with little exposure as to how to app ...


The Buzz about Colony Collapse Disorder

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the widespread loss of honeybees, has devastating repercussions for the environment, industry, and the economy. Thi ...


The Case of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Based on the disputed rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker in April 2005, this interrupted case study tells the story of a fictional characte ...


The Dangers of Deicing

Loss of species richness is often due to anthropogenic activity. The global decline of amphibians is one such example. This case study examines the ...


The Dead Zone

This interrupted case study focuses on the seasonal hypoxic area in the Gulf of Mexico known as the Dead Zone. It follows Sue, a college student, w ...


The Deforestation of the Amazon

In this case study, students examine tropical deforestation in the Amazon from the perspective of three dominant stakeholders in the region: a peas ...


The Demise of the Forest People

In this case study, the complexity of the Malaysian palm oil industry is examined through the perspective of various stakeholders, namely, villager ...


The Dilution Effect

In this case study students are provided with information for piecing together the story of how forest fragmentation and biodiversity loss can affe ...


The Ecological Footprint Dilemma

Is it better to have a new parking lot on campus or use that space to develop a community garden? This is the issue presented in this "clicker cas ...


The Ecology of Opuntia Fragilis (Nuttall) Haworth

This interrupted case is based on the author's own personal research on the fragile prickly pear cactus in Stearns County, Minnesota. The data desc ...


The Effects of Coyote Removal in Texas

This interrupted case study presents published data on the effect of coyote removal in Texas. It was designed to help students in introductory leve ...


The Evolution of Color Vision in Monkeys

This case study examines the evolution color vision in Old World and New World monkeys from multiple biological perspectives. This integrative appr ...


The Fish Kill Mystery

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 ...


The Galapagos

Using problem-based learning and role-playing, students analyze the geological origins of the Galapagos Islands, their colonization, species forma ...


The Great Patagonia Land Grab

This PowerPoint case (~2.4 MB) was developed for an undergraduate, non-majors course in conservation biology. It explores the controversy surroundi ...


The Horseshoe Crab

This case study examines the population dynamics of the horseshoe crab, which is sometimes described as a “living fossil.” Students are ...


The Last Spruce Grove

This case study follows a drama that unfolded around a stand of Sitka spruce trees (Picea sitchensis) on Vancouver Island, British Columbi ...


The Mystery of the Missing Martens

This interrupted case study introduces basic modeling to investigate a decline in an American marten population on an island in Southeast Alaska. T ...


The Perilous Plight of the Pika

This interrupted case study addresses several concepts related to climate change and its effect on the American pika. Often called an indicator spe ...


The Polar Bear of the Salt Marsh?

Polar bears are an iconic symbol of climate change, but regionally relevant examples of susceptible biota are needed to highlight how global forces ...


The Poop on Composting

This interrupted case study tells the story of Miles, a freshman in college, who volunteers to help with the composting program on campus. Miles is ...


The Return of Canis lupus?

Although gray wolves once freely roamed North America, the gradual loss of their habitat from westward expansion and extermination programs led to ...


The Rocky Mountain Locust

This case explores conservation and social issues associated with the destruction of vast tracts of farmland in the Great Plains in the late 1800s ...


The Value of a Wetland

This case study introduces students to the elements of a renewable resource management project. The issue of wetland drainage, for the purpose of i ...


The Waiting Game

In this interrupted case study, students examine the cooperative courtship behavior of long-tailed manakins. Males of the long-tailed form leks, ar ...


The Wealth of Water

Many students take the availability of water for granted. This case study, which focuses on the Cochabamba water revolt in Bolivia, is designed to ...


The Wolf, the Moose, and the Fir Tree

In this analysis case, students study predator-prey dynamics in the Isle Royale National Park ecosystem drawing on data and findings from the artic ...


Threats to Biodiversity

In this case study, students learn about introduced species and how they pose a threat to biodiversity by analyzing the impact of introduced specie ...


To Be or Not To Be a Golf Course in Wimberley?

This interrupted case study examines the tensions that a small town in Texas faces between economic development and the preservation of a natural w ...


To List or Not to List?

The federal governments in Canada and the United States have adopted vastly different positions regarding the conservation status of the greater sa ...


Too Many Deer!

A town meeting is the setting for this case study in which students explore the topics of overpopulation, bioethics, and management of urban wildli ...


Toxic Circumstances

This interrupted case study tells the true story of Karl P. Schmidt, a herpetologist and museum curator who was bitten by a venomous snake in 1957. ...


Tuna for Lunch?

This case examines mercury bioaccumulation and biomagnification within the context of the human health impacts of ingesting food (specifically, fis ...


Unintended Consequences of Plant Domestication on Plant-Insect Interactions

This case study investigates how plant domestication sometimes produces unintended consequences for plant-insect interactions. The narrative follow ...


Unsustainable Use of the High Plains Aquifer

This case spotlights Great Plains water shortages by focusing on the High Plains Aquifer. This groundwater reservoir provides nearly a third of gro ...


Watch Your Step

This case makes use of the concept of the "ecological footprint," developed by Wackernagel and colleagues to quantify the amount of land area requi ...


What is a Species?

This "clicker case" is modified from Martin Kelly's case study "As the Worm Turns: Speciation and the Apple Maggot Fly," also in our collection. Cl ...


When Harry Met Gabby

This case study addresses several concepts related to water hypoxia including physical laws governing dissolved oxygen levels and impacts to living ...


When Work Makes You Sick

This case study was inspired by a real-life scenario, and follows the story of Roberto, a migrant farmworker whose health is impacted by the usage ...


Which Elephant Population Would You Protect?

This case study has students analyze real population and climate data to address a problem in conservation. Many elephant populations exist in Afri ...


Who Set the Moose Loose?

This “clicker case” focuses on the food web of the riparian bird communities of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystemand how community stru ...


Why Can’t We Build a Biosphere?

This case study is designed to help students learn about the ecosystem services of Earth (Biosphere 1) by examining the challenges faced by the des ...


Why Did the Snake Cross the Road?

Although Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium is a fundamental part of introductory biology classes, students often have difficulty understanding its implica ...


Why Sex is Good

This interrupted case is based on a 2005 article in Nature written by three scientists from the Imperial College London that deals with th ...


You Poured it Where?

This "clicker case" focuses on the invasive aquarium strain of Caulerpa taxifolia as a way of introducing students to issues about invasiv ...


Zombie Attack!

Students assume the roles of CDC researchers who must determine how to most effectively stop an impending Zombie apocalypse. The story line leads s ...