Energy flows and matter cycles among organisms, and between organisms and their environment, create dynamic interconnected systems. In this unit, students learn about the biotic and abiotic factors in a river ecosystem, using the Hudson River as a case study. They then investigate the impact of an invasive species (zebra mussels) on this ecosystem, using teaching case materials created by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History. Students then make hypotheses about how the presence of zebra mussels might affect a specific biotic or abiotic factor. In the context of making these hypotheses, students may revisit biochemical processes, such as photosynthesis and respiration. Finally, using data collected by the Cary Institute, students write scientific explanations confirming or rejecting their hypotheses, thus building an understanding of the role of data and collaboration in the scientific community.
In what ways are organisms and their environment interdependent?
How can altered ecosystems recover to a point of long-term stability?