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Climate-Induced Shifts in California Butterflies

Author(s): Jessica Coyle

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Summary:
A module in which students generate and test hypotheses about butterfly species’ response to climate change in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California using publicly available data.

Description

In this activity students generate and test hypotheses about butterfly species’ response to climate change in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California using publicly available data. This activity can be used in both in-person or remote online instruction. It is designed to be introduced by an instructor, with students subsequently working independently through a worksheet-based analysis. The activity is designed for college-level students who are familiar with the concept of scatterplots and simple linear regression as a tool to test correlation, but it does not assume any prior experience with analysis of data in spreadsheets.

Students will learn to:

  • Predict ways that animals may respond to climate change in mountainous regions.
  • Formulate and evaluate a multi-step hypothesis using linear regression.
  • Recognize publicly available data on species distributions and climate.
  • Filter and combine data using a spreadsheet (Spreadsheet version).
  • Interpret the slope in a linear regression (CODAP version).

Three versions of this lesson are provided:

  • Spreadsheet version: includes a student instructions worksheet and spreadsheet-based workbook containing the data that students will analyze.
  • Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP) version: includes a student instructions document and links to CODAP workbooks with the data that students will analyze.
  • Common Online Data Analysis Platform (CODAP) short version: designed to be finished in 60 minutes.

The lesson includes instructions for downloading butterfly distribution and weather station data for other species or regions along with R code that formats these data for students.

Notes

This is the second version of this resource, which has been updated to include a third shorter version of the activity that can be completed in 60 minutes.

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