UAS MAT Program ~ 2016 Cohort
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Biodiversity lesson plan
I like that you focus on the interplay between otters, fish, kelp and urchins. The M and M game with and without the otters in the mix is a great way to show the effects of a keystone predator. I’ve always wondered what otters eat besides urchins. Do they eat crabs?
Crazy story: a young lady I knew who fished in southeast Alaska believed that sea otters were not native to this coast because her dad (who is a fisherman) told her that there had not been hardly any around 40 years ago. She disliked this “invasive species” for what she thought they were doing to the crab populations in parts of SE. To be fair, I wonder if they do have an effect because in Kachemak bay and PWS for example, after dungy and tanner crab populations were overfished by people there, the crabs have never recovered. I suppose baby crabs could be being eaten by fish though as well. Anyway, I told this woman the reason there were hardly any crabs in SE around 40 years ago was because they had been decimated by earlier hunting efforts, but yes, they were native. She never believed me.
I meant otters in the last sentence.
Thats odd that some people may consider otters to be invasive. I guess if they had never been around growing up, they could be consider invasive. Otters are opportunist eaters but they typically specialize in only a few food sources and its a learned behavior. If their mothers eat mainly crab and urchins the young will too, if their mothers typically eat octopus and clams they will rarely eat urchins or crabs. (I learned that from the SeaLife Center) Its pretty cool and reduces competition between the sea otters. As for the crab fisheries I’m pretty sure human influence has more to do with the population decline than anything otters could do. But I looked up a recent Dungeness crab survey and in the Prince William sound area they caught and average of .1 legal crab per pot in 2010. Which is dismally low for crab fisheries and based on what I’ve learned about their life cycle it takes about 5 years for a male crab to reach its legal size and each females will produce up to 2.5 million crab larva but only once. So something tells me the survival of the larva is whats keeping the population low, maybe its climate change or nutrient run off thats killing them. check this out if you want to learn more http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/FedAidPDFs/FMR12-05.pdf
Wow- what a thorough lesson plan! I really loved your variety of activities that presented a relatable way of viewing biodiversity in a given environment.
The topic of sea otters is also very culturally responsive, as it’s been a huge topic of debate ever since Europeans settled here.
Meghan, This lesson is great! I like opening it up with a game and of course, you had me at M&Ms. This is a great connection to a math lesson too about data collection, recording, and calculations. It would be cool to see it taught in combination with a bigger math unit. I like the video you showed too, a lot of information in a cool visual way. Like Ryan mentioned — I cannot even talk about how cute I think sea otters are to all my gillnetting friends… it sends them into a fit about invasive otters ruining everything. This gave me an idea for a whole new language arts lesson — interviews with fisherman vs. interviews with marine biologist. Of course… many of my fisherman friends don’t use age-appropriate language 😉
Do I get to eat the M&M’s at the end of the lesson? I am not a science person at all, but I thought this lesson sounded thought provoking and still accessible to someone like me (who always gets lost in a science classroom). I think this lesson would be great in the spring, right before all the kids have their beach day, so they can all try to spot the animals they studied in your lesson. Or I guess you could add a field trip to DIPAC in there somewhere…My kids do all kinds of salmon lessons in school; it’s nice to give other sea life a bit of attention too.
yes you get to eat the M&Ms, I forgot to designate that in the lesson but I figured it would be implied. Plus the students will eat them anyway
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