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POPULATIONS AND ECOSYSTEMS COURSE MATRIX
SYNOPSIS
SCIENCE CONCEPTS
PROCESSES

6.
Population Size (5–6 sessions)
Students explore some of the variables in an ecosystem that limit population size. Based on their milkweed-bug study, they predict what the population would be in 12 months. Students use simulations to explore population interactions and outcomes. • Reproductive potential is the theoretical unlimited growth of a population over time.
• A limiting factor is any biotic or abiotic component of the ecosystem that controls the population size.
• Calculate theoretical growth of a milkweed-bug population with no limits.
• Analyze results of experiments on abiotic factors and bug egg hatching.
• Relate abiotic and biotic factors to the growth or decline of populations.

7.
Ecoscenarios (5 sessions)
Working in groups, students use knowledge developed in previous investigations to analyze a specific ecosystem and prepare reports. The FOSS CD-ROM provides a tool to research ten ecosystems. • Similar ecosystems occur in areas of similar abiotic conditions on Earth.
• An ecosystem is a group of interacting organisms and abiotic factors in a specified area.
• All ecosystems have characteristics in common, such as trophic levels.
• Describe and communicate the abiotic and biotic components and their interrelations in a specific area.
• Apply understanding of ecological concepts to a new system.
• Describe ways that ecosystems are the same and different.

8.
Adaptations (7 sessions)
Students are introduced to adaptation first through a video and then by working with a multimedia simulation of a population of walkingsticks that exhibit color variation. Students study the impact of predation on the insects in different environments. • Variation is the range of expression of a feature in a population.
• An adaptation is any trait of an organism that helps it survive and reproduce in its environment.
• Variation in a population helps the population survive when the environment changes.
• Use a multimedia simulation to investigate the adaptive value of
protective coloration.
• Explain how adaptations help organisms survive in a specific environment.
• Describe how a population can change over time in response to environmental factors.

9.
Genetic Variation (6 sessions)
Students investigate the underlying mechanisms of change in population by breeding imaginary animals called larkeys. They learn how organisms inherit traits from their parents and how dominant and recessive alleles interact to produce traits in a population. • Genes are the basic units of heredity carried by chromosomes in the nucleus of every cell. Genes code for features of organisms.
• An organism’s particular combination of paired alleles is its genotype; the traits produced by those alleles result in the phenotype.
• Use a simulation to determine the transfer of genetic information during breeding and the traits that result.
• Explain how organisms inherit traits from parents. Describe the interaction of dominant and recessive alleles.
• Use Punnett squares to predict the proportion of offspring that will have certain traits.

10.
Natural Selection (5 sessions)
Students study natural selection with larkeys and take a video journey to the Galápagos Islands to revisit the location where Charles Darwin gathered data for his theory of natural selection. • Environmental factors put selective pressure on populations.
• Natural selection is the process by which the individuals best adapted to their environment tend to survive and pass their traits to subsequent generations.
• Describe how selective pressure can affect the genetic makeup of a population.
• Explain how the traits expressed by the members of a population can change naturally over time.
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