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Monday, October 24, 2011

AN AP ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE LAB FOR ASSESSING STREAM MACROFAUNAL COMMUNITIES



Although many AP Environmental Science classes across the country do some version of a lab investigation on stream organisms, they tend to be overly simplistic in terms of  the questions asked and the type of analyses required.  We have developed an investigation that retains a simple sampling protocol and data gathering phase, but which tests hypotheses that are relevant in terms of current thinking on community ecology.  Hence, it goes beyond simply examining what kinds of organisms are present by examining community parameters such as species richness, species evenness and species diversity.  It also considers the importance of sampling design to hypothesis testing and introduces statistical concepts like variance, standard deviation and coefficient of variation.  The investigation compares the aquatic macrofaunal communities of two streams of distinctly different water quality and requires the use of spreadsheets to analyze the data.  It uses data from previous investigations of water chemistry, and requires that macrofaunal community data be analyzed in light of the physical and chemical nature of the streams.  The lab may be downloaded from http://www.birdconservationresearch.org/.

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