Healing the scars: Implementing an online module about tropical rainforest carbon cycling in an undergraduate majors ecology course
Author(s): Carissa Ganong
Missouri Western State University
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- FMN Implementation Plan OCELOTS Teaching Notes for QUBES Abstract_Ganong_Final_25_May_2023.docx(DOCX | 21 KB)
- Rio_Puerto_Viejo.jpg(JPG | 947 KB)
- Stream carbon cycling teaching notes.docx(DOCX | 15 KB)
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Overview of module:
This resource provides an Implementation Plan and Teaching Notes for use of a Gala module focused on tropical carbon cycling. The module was included within an undergraduate ecology course at Missouri Western State University. Students learn the basics of – and unlearn common misconceptions about – the carbon cycle, then learn about the relationships between carbon cycling and conservation, experimental design, and data analysis and interpretation. I adapted the module to include a discussion of the importance of carbon cycling in aquatic systems to tropical landscape-level carbon budgets.
Summary of implementation plan and teaching notes:
This module was implemented in a 200-level general ecology course (~30 students) over parts of six class periods, with topics covered as follows. Instructors should set aside ~30 minutes for each of these activities, and 40-45 minutes for the final class.
(1) Before beginning the module, I presented the basics of the carbon cycle to the class; next, students worked in pairs to complete the “Photosynthesis and Respiration” worksheet, which we then discussed as a class. Over the next four classes, students read units of the module prior to class and we discussed them as follows.
(2) The “Background: Why Do We Care?” unit, which established the relationship between carbon cycling and tropical conservation.
(3) The “Conceptual Framework and Hypotheses” unit, to provide more detailed carbon-cycling processes and hypothesis development.
(4) “The Experiment” and “Methods” (study system and experimental design).
(5) “Results” (data interpretation).
(6) In the final class, the class discussed “Bringing Home the Global Carbon Cycle: Human-Environmental Interactions” (discussion/application of results). Additionally, I presented the concept of aquatic as well as terrestrial systems playing an important role in landscape-level carbon cycling, and the class examined, interpreted, and discussed the ecological implications of four figures (2-4 and 7) from a published paper describing stream carbon flux in the same rainforest in which the research for this module was conducted (Marzolf et al. 2022, “Partitioning inorganic carbon fluxes from paired O2–CO2 gas measurements in a Neotropical headwater stream, Costa Rica,” Biogeochemistry; https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-022-00954-4).
Student comprehension of key concepts in the module and the Marzolf et al. 2022 paper was assessed by questions (mostly multiple-choice, two short answer) on weekly quizzes and on the final exam.
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