Species Life Cycles: Match…or Mismatch?
Authors: Beth Bisson1, Medea Steinman2, and Esperanza Stancioff1,2
1Maine Sea Grant
2University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Grade level: 4-12
Themes: Phenology, animal and plant life cycles and life history
Activity type: Field observation and drawing
Setting: Classroom and outdoors
For two species that are dependent on one another, when and how do their life cycles intersect?
What might happen if one species or the other changes its timing?
This activity can be used independently or as an extension of the Signs of the Seasons Plant and Animal Life Cycle Drawings activity. Using those same procedures, students will draw life cycle timeline calendars for two species that are interdependent for food, pollination, reproduction, or habitat. (Examples include monarch butterflies and common milkweed or honeybees and wild blueberry.)
For this exercise, the life cycle drawing is stretched out in a line and matched to the dates on a calendar year. (If you aren’t able to observe all phenophases, you can estimate, based on guidebook information). Students use SOS phenology observation protocols and data sheets to monitor the species on their school grounds or elsewhere in their community. They use their recorded data to develop a timeline of species’ phenophases. Students learn field observation and data collection skills. They are encouraged to hypothesize and make predictions about species interactions and effects. They may also share what they learn by giving presentations at school.
Maine Learning Results (Science and Technology)
A1 Unifying Themes – Systems
3-5. Students explain interactions between parts that make up whole man-made and natural things.
6-8. Students describe and apply principles of systems in man-made things, natural things, and processes.
9-Diploma. Students apply an understanding of systems to explain and analyze man-made and natural phenomena.
A3 Unifying Themes – Constancy and Change
3-5 a. Recognize patterns of change including steady, repetitive, irregular, or apparently unpredictable change.
6-8. Students describe how patterns of change vary in physical, biological, and technological systems.
B1 Skills and Traits of Scientific Inquiry
3-5 a. Pose investigable questions and seek answers from reliable sources of scientific information and from their own investigations.
6-8. Students plan, conduct, analyze data from, and communicate results of investigations, including simple experiments.
C1 The Scientific and Technological Enterprise – Understandings of Inquiry
3-5 a. Describe how scientists answer questions by developing explanations based on observations, evidence, and knowledge of the natural world.
9-diploma. Students describe key aspects of scientific investigations: that they are guided by scientific principles and knowledge, that they are performed to test ideas, and that they are communicated and defended publicly.
E2 The Living Environment – Ecosystems
3-5. Students describe ways organisms depend upon, interact within, and change the living and non-living environment as well as ways the environment affects organisms.
6-8. Students examine how the characteristics of the physical, non-living (abiotic) environment, the types and behaviors of living (biotic) organisms, and the flow of matter and energy affect organisms and the ecosystem of which they are part.
Expectations and Misconceptions: It’s important to mention to students that variability is normal in the natural world. If they do not see changes when they expect to, or among all individuals of the same species, they should be cautioned against leaping to conclusions. Encourage them to think carefully about what they have observed and consider as many explanations as possible.
Note: see Resources section below for links to these items on the Web
And, depending on what species will be monitored:
–Two 30-40-minute class periods for class discussion and planning
–10-20 minutes, on a weekly basis, over an extended period of weeks or months to record data on datasheets in the field
–10-20 minutes to record observations in logbook after each outing
–30-40 minutes to plan and begin creating the timeline calendar
–Two 30-40-minute class periods to finalize the calendar and write up summary of any conclusions or findings
–One 30-40-minute class period for presentation(s) of findings and group discussion
ACTIVITY PROCEDURE (See the Resources section below for links to SOS/NPN websites and materials)
10. Make plans to present the life cycle drawings and the findings to other student groups. Help your students think about how to share their findings and discuss their experiences and observations.
REFLECTION/FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT IDEAS
Reflection: Ask participants to reflect on their field experience, the data collection system, and the preparation of the timeline. Reflect on what worked well and what they could do differently next time. Ask them to talk about any ways their expectations about the timing of their species’ phenophase changes were or were not met. Can they speculate about possible reasons or causes?
Formative assessment: Collect the students’ science notebooks or journals to see how well they recorded their observations and understood the process and the data they collected. Do they seem more comfortable with the process of making observations and collecting data in the field? Save examples of student work for reference the next time you try this activity.
Try to find historical phenology data for these same species and compare your life-cycle calendar with that information. [Note: SOS staff may be able to help you find historical information. Contact the staff to ask about this.]
Ask students to conduct research in the library about this topic. Can they find stories about species pairings? If so, ask them to learn about those relationships and make predictions about what might happen if either species changed its timing. Can they find examples where mismatches in timing are known to be occurring? What causes are attributed to this? [SOS may also be able to help point you to articles and stories. Contact us for more information].
Signs of the Seasons (http://umaine.edu/signs-of-the-seasons)
USA National Phenology Network (http://www.usanpn.org)
Getting set up with Signs of the Seasons:
SOS Field Guide (http://umaine.edu/signs-of-the-seasons/resources-for-observers/)
SOS Indicator Species (http://umaine.edu/signs-of-the-seasons/indicator-species/)
USA-NPN Nature’s Notebook (https://www.usanpn.org/user?destination=MyNPN)
To get started, follow instructions in the Field Guide for selecting a site and choosing species and individual plants to observe. Then register an account with Nature’s Notebook. Once you do that and enter your site(s) and species list, you’ll be able to access the Data Sheets for downloading and printing. These can be used outdoors when recording your observations.
For assistance contact:
Esperanza Stancioff, Climate Change Educator
University of Maine Cooperative Extension/Maine Sea Grant
(207) 832-0343; 1-800-244-2104
Beth Bisson, Assistant Director for Outreach and Education
Maine Sea Grant College Program
Signs of the Seasons Partners
In complying with the letter and spirit of applicable laws and pursuing its own goals of diversity, the University System shall not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, including transgender status or gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other areas of the University System. The University provides reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request. If you are a person with a disability and will need any accommodations to participate in this program, please contact Esperanza Stancioff at 1-800-244-2104 to discuss your needs. Please contact us at least 10 days prior to this event to assure fullest possible attention to your needs. Questions and complaints about discrimination in any area of the University should be directed to the Executive Director of Equal Opportunity, The University of Maine, Room 101, 5754 North Stevens Hall, Orono, ME 04469-5754, telephone (207) 581-1226 (voice and TDD). Published and distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Cooperative Extension and other agencies of USDA provide equal opportunities in programs and employment. 02/11
Image Description: UMaine Extension logo
Image Description: Maine Sea Grant logo
Image Description: Colorful graphic showing fruits, leaves and birds