Climate Change in The Arctic.

Climate Change in The Arctic

ECOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Review paper & group project assignment

Background

In this class, two of your assignments for your discussion section include participating in a group presentation on 1 of 6 pre-selected ecological issues and, individually, writing a review paper that discusses how your group issue is relevant in an ecosystem of your choice. This project will involve working with several of your classmates to research an ecological issue, and to then construct a written report and an oral presentation on the issue. Each person in the class is responsible for producing and turning in an original written research paper. The presentation, however, is given jointly with the members of your group.

The Assignment

Ecologists today recognize that humans are altering the world’s habitats and affecting biodiversity in many ways. Human activity has been linked to rapid declines in the Earth’s biodiversity; there is evidence that we are currently in another mass extinction event. Consequently, many ecologists tailor their research programs and apply their research results to the conservation of species, communities, populations, or ecosystems. This research is critical in at least three ways: (1) we need to understand how “natural” communities function if we are to understand how our actions disrupt them; (2) we need to understand how heavily altered communities have been affected; and (3) we need to develop priorities and strategies for conserving and restoring communities and ecosystems that have been damaged through our actions.

One of the most important steps that we can take to help reverse the loss of biodiversity is to raise awareness of the problem and the solutions that can help reverse the damage. Therefore, in this class you will be responsible for writing a report and giving an oral presentation on the ways in which humans threaten the world’s biodiversity, and potential solutions to these problems.

For this assignment, you will collaborate with your group members to select a threat to biodiversity that interests you.  Each individual will pick a different ecosystem to write his/her paper about. The paper will discuss how that threat is currently affecting the organisms, trophic interactions, nutrient cycles, and subsequent biodiversity in the selected ecosystem. The focus of the paper is not how humans cause or influence on the threat to biodiversity.

Some example ecosystems (there are many more you could choose) that are threatened by one or more of these factors are:

  • coral reefs
  • temperate forests

* arctic tundra

  • rivers, streams, and lakes
  • estuaries like San Francisco Bay or Chesapeake Bay
  • tropical rain forests and jungles
  • marshes, and wetlands like the Everglades
  • islands throughout the world, particularly in the tropics
  • pelagic and benthic areas of the oceans

For example, you could choose to research the effects of CO2  increases on the arctic tundra or how introduced species affect island habitats.

For this assignment you will do the following:

  1. You will be placed in a group of about 4-5 people in your discussion section that will be assigned to a major anthropogenic threat. The pre-selected threats include: Habitat Loss, Overharvesting, Climate Change, Invasive Species, Introduced Disease, and Pollution.
  2. Within the subject of that threat, you (individually) will select a topic for your review paper. Your TA must approve your choice, and can help you select a topic that is not too broad or too narrow (for example, choosing to review how pollution threatens the entire world would be too broad; choosing how nitrogen runoff affects different types of water sources would be better).
  3. Research your topic. Your references will be research articles published in scientific journals and books. Many applicable journals and books are available in the SDSU library, and many articles from journals can even be downloaded from a campus computer for free.
  4. After researching your topic, you will write an 8-10 page review paper. Remember that each person in the group must turn in their own review paper, written in their own words. It is important that overlap between people within a group is minimal, though some of the general information may be similar.  This is usually accomplished by people within a group selecting different ecosystems, and writing about how the ecological threat affects their ecosystem in particular (e.g., how climate change affects the arctic tundra is quite different compared to how it affects the coral reef).  You will want to stay in communication with your fellow group members to make sure there is not too much overlap in the topics selected for your review papers.
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