Natasha N. Woods1 and Julie C. Zinnert2
1Department of Biological Sciences, Moravian University, Bethlehem, PA 18018
2Department of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23284
Corresponding author: Natasha N. Woods (email@example.com)
THE ECOLOGICAL QUESTION
What is the impact of geographic location for the trajectory of coastal forests exposed to sea-level rise and storm disturbance?
FOUR DIMENSIONAL ECOLOGY EDUCATION (4DEE) FRAMEWORK
- Core Ecological Concepts:
- Species diversity-biodiversity-dominance
- Ecology Practices:
- Natural history
- Making observations and connections
- Quantitative reasoning and computational thinking
- Data skills - inputting and data-mining /data visualization
- Human-Environment Interactions:
- Ecosystem services
- Cross-cutting Themes:
- Spatial & Temporal
- Stability and Change
WHAT STUDENTS DO
- Develop hypotheses about which coastal forest community (mainland or island) will recover biodiversity of plant species due to the combined effects of storms and sea-level rise.
- Interpret tree dominance tables to identify which community (mainland or barrier island) maintained biodiversity after several major storm events.
- Calculate Shannon diversity index using Excel or Google Sheets to understand if the plant communities maintained diversity after several major storm events.
- Produce and analyze graphs comparing the different size class of individual tree species at two timepoints with an emphasis on understanding the importance of species size for community dominance.
- Connect differences in community recovery back to the geographic location of the forests.
Students will learn about biodiversity, biogeography, and barrier islands in the following jigsaw activity:
In this in-class activity individual students in a group will learn about one of three topics and present it to their group. The purpose of this activity is to get students talking about the components of biodiversity in the geographically diverse ecosystems they are about to study.
Pre- and Post-Lab Assessments, Calculation and interpretation of species Shannon diversity index, Accurate graphing of stage class data, Written interpretation of figures from stage class data
This assignment was designed for (Fr., So., Jr., Sr.,) biology or ecology class. This can be used for majors, nonmajors, or for a general education course.
Data associated with this research are available at:
- Richardson, D.L. 1999. Parramore Island of the Virginia Coast Reserve Permanent Plot Resurvey: Plot data 1996. Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research Project Data Publication knb-lter-vcr.107.19 (doi:10.6073/pasta/7c5547d1f778e102fd4d05bd3c53d451).
- Richardson, D.L. 1999. Parramore Island of the Virginia Coast Reserve Permanent Plot Resurvey: Tree data 1997. Virginia Coast Reserve Long- Term Ecological Research Project Data Publication knb-lter-vcr.102.18 (doi:10.6073/pasta/7ade4c94f6a 6be7f239b873e4fd87ce4).
- Richardson, D.L. 1999. Parramore Island of the Virginia Coast Reserve Permanent Plot Resurvey: Shrub data 1996. Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research Project Data Publication knb-lter-vcr.99.18 (doi:10.6073/pasta/0382ee52fbd0485325e8d052d3587399).
Description of Resource Files:
- Faculty Tree Stage Class Data
- Faculty Shannon Diversity Index Data
- Student Tree Stage Class Data
- Student Shannon Diversity Index Data Interpretation
- Student Shannon Diversity Index Data
- Additional Information Regarding Trees and Shrubs
- Instructions for Making Graphs in Google Sheets
We thank the Virginia Coast Reserve staff for logistical support, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for permitting access to collect data on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and the Coastal Plant Ecology Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University for the collection of the 2018 data. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research grants DEB-1237733 and DEB-1832221, the Virginia Commonwealth University Presidential Research Quest and Dean funds to J.C. Zinnert, and Ford Foundation Fellowship to N.N. Woods. The creation of this module was funded by the National Science Foundation (DBI-1730526 RCN-UBE: Biodiversity Literacy in Undergraduate Education-Data Initiative and DBI-2120678 RCN-UBE: Transforming Ecology Education to Four Dimensional Network). We would also like to thank Anna Monfils and Luanna Prevost for their instruction in the development of this module along with the editor and reviewers whose comments helped improve this module.
Natasha N. Woods and Julie C. Zinnert. August 2023. Succession Case Study: Impact of Geographic Position on Biodiversity in Mid-Atlantic Forest Communities. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 19: Practice #2. https://tiee.esa.org/vol/v19/issues/data_sets/woods/abstract.html