When young African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) first take to the sea to find anchovies to eat, they find them by detecting a chemical given off by phytoplankton – which the anchovies eat. Recently, however, when the young penguins reach the place where they expect to find fish, the fish are not there. This is called an “ecological trap,” which means that this environmental cue on which the animals have depended has become unreliable, because of human influence (over fishing and/or warming ocean temperatures).
In some areas, the African penguin populations have declined 80% in the last 15 years. Scientists have found that adult penguins have been able to change their fishing patterns to follow the fish, but young penguins still have not and their numbers decline.
Scientists have found ecological traps on land where humans have changed habitats with deforestation, desertification and development, but ocean ecological traps are just beginning to be studying and understood.
To read more about this off site, go to our resource from Science News: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/young-penguins-follow-false-food-cues?mode=topic&context=60&tgt=nr
From: R. Sherley et al. Metapopulation tracking juvenile penguins reveals an ecosystem-wide ecological trap. Current Biology. Published online February 9, 2017.
1) How has human overfishing the ocean affected ocean food webs?
2) How can we stop overfishing, so populations can recover?
Using Discoveries and Inventions as Scientific Phenomena to Integrate with NGSS:
Scientific Phenomena can be used as a tool to anchor a science unit involving a series of lessons to engage in deeper science learning – or what is being called “Three Dimensional Learning”.
1) Describe the phenomena in a way that your students can understand and which sparks their imagination.
2) Create Essential Questions for them to answer to explain the phenomena.
3) Identify the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas which you are targeting.
4) Provide clear directions for a process they should use to try to answer the questions using the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices to frame as your guideline.
5) Name the Crosscutting Concepts that students should be aware of throughout the lesson.
6) Discuss the Connections to Nature of Science.
7) Make note of other questions generated in the process of exploring this Scientific Phenomena.
Disciplinary Core Ideas - LINK
ESS3.A: Natural Resources
• Humans depend on Earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for many different resources. Minerals, fresh water, and biosphere resources are limited, and many are not renewable or replaceable over human lifetimes. These resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes. (MS-ESS3-1)
ESS3.B: Natural Hazards
• Mapping the history of natural hazards in a region, combined with an understanding of related geologic forces can help forecast the locations and likelihoods of future events. (MS-ESS3-2)
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
• Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things. (MS-ESS3-3)
• Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise. (MS-ESS3-3),(MS-ESS3-4)
ESS3.D: Global Climate Change
• Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities. (MS-ESS3-5)