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The Polar Bear of the Salt Marsh? Warming Tolerance Limits of Local Species

By Angela Dassow1, Sheryl Konrad1

Carthage College

National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science- In the adaptation exercise, students explore connections between saltmarsh sparrow declines and declining populations of local species that live on or near their campus.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group Making the Case

Version 1.0 - published on 13 May 2019 doi:10.25334/Q44B2S - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Adapted from: The Polar Bear of the Salt Marsh? v 1.0


In this case study adaptation, students play the role of a young naturalist and focus on species that are declining near their campus.  In small groups, students discuss peer-reviewed literature on the impact of a warming climate on ectotherms.  Individually, they search for information on a regional species of their choice and calculate thermal safety margins and warming tolerances. As a large group, each species selected is compared and contrasted for a debate on which species are the best candidates to receive conservation funds. Students who successfully complete this case study will integrate key concepts related to climate change, interpret scientific data and draw conclusions about environmental change, and evaluate alternative management decisions. Originally developed for an undergraduate, freshman-level biology course, the case could easily be adapted by high school instructors for an introductory biology or an environmental science course.

The original material was published by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science and should be cited as:

Lawrence, B. A., & Field, C. R. (2018). The Polar Bear or the Salt Marsh?. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science.


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