In this activity developed by NOAA, students investigate the range of conditions that selected animal and plant species need to survive in an estuary. They examine data for abiotic factors that affect life in estuaries—salinity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH. Students use archived data (trend analysis graphs) and real-time conditions at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) to predict whether a particular animal or plant species could survive in an estuary.
Students will be able to:
- Describe three types of estuarine environments.
- Describe the particular environmental conditions necessary for organisms to survive in an estuary.
- List four principal abiotic factors that influence the survival of aquatic life in estuaries.
- Determine the range of pH, temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen tolerated by some common estuarine species.
CONTEXT FOR USE
Teaching Time: 3 (55 minute) class sessions + homework
Organization of the Activity: This activity consists of 4 parts which help deepen understanding of estuarine systems:
- The Estuarine Environment
- Surviving Changes: Abiotic Factors that Affect Life
- Surviving in an Estuary: Extreme Conditions
- Optional: Investigating Other NERRS sites