Animal migration is an essential component of many ecosystems, and migratory animals contribute to human economies, such as recreation, hunting, and tourism, in addition to having cultural and intrinsic value. Unfortunately, human infrastructure and behavior have altered animal migration patterns.

 

In this unit, student groups will explore human impacts on animal migration through the lens of a focal animal. Groups will create a multilayered map that shows their focal animal’s migration pattern, how their animal’s migration interacts with its ecosystem(s), human impacts on their animal’s migration, and recommended solutions that could mitigate human impacts. Groups will conclude this unit by presenting their map and an evidence-based argument to convince stakeholders to approve a solution that could mitigate human impacts. Student learning and engagement can be extended through local action to support vulnerable migratory species in your community. With the input of students, classes can decide whether to create a nearby “pit stop” for migrating animals, author a letter to local stakeholders or decision-makers, or conduct field work on local animals and contribute their findings to a citizen science project.

 

Use this unit at a glance to explore a brief outline of the materials included in this resource.

 

Unit Driving Question: How can we help solve the problems faced by animals on the move?

3 hrs 50 mins

Students will engage with photographs, videos, handouts, and animations to learn why and how animals migrate, methods used to track and map migrations, and how humans are impacting animal migration. Students use a variety of resources to research a focal animal in order to create a map layer showing its migration pattern, which is part of their unit project. This lesson is part of the Detours and Distractions: How Humans Impact Migration Patterns unit.

3 hrs

Students engage with a variety of resources to learn about ecosystems and the interactions among organisms in ecosystems, with a focus on elk migration in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Groups create a second map layer for their unit project that shows how their focal animal’s migration impacts its ecosystem. This lesson is part of the Detours and Distractions: How Humans Impact Migration Patterns unit.

4 hrs 40 mins

Students investigate different solutions to human impacts on animal migration and identify different stakeholders; this information will be represented in the final map layer for their unit project. Groups develop and present an evidence-based argument that takes a stand on a specific human impact on animal migration and aims to convince stakeholders to implement a recommended solution. This lesson is part of the Detours and Distractions: How Humans Impact Migration Patterns unit.

abiotic
Adjective

characterized by the absence of life or living organisms

animal migration
Noun

process where a community of animals leaves a habitat for part of the year or part of their lives, and moves to habitats that are more hospitable.

Antarctic
Noun

region at Earth's extreme south, encompassed by the Antarctic Circle.

approve
Verb

to accept or allow something.

Noun

region at Earth's extreme north, encompassed by the Arctic Circle.

argument
Noun

reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.

average
Noun

ordinary.

biotic
Adjective

having to do with living or once-living organisms.

cascading effect
Noun

series of secondary changes that are triggered by the primary changes to a key species in an ecosystem.

claim
Verb

to state as the truth.

competition
Noun

contest between organisms for resources, recognition, or group or social status.

component
Noun

part.

condition
Noun

an environmental state that must be present or exist in order for something else to exist or function.

curiosity
Noun

desire to know more about a subject.

detour
Noun

unplanned or temporary path.

distract
Verb

to divert or draw attention away from something.

Noun

community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

effect
Noun

result or impact produced by an action.

empirical
Adjective

able to be proved with evidence or experience.

environment
Noun

conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

evidence
Noun

data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.

external
Adjective

outside of something.

feasible
Adjective

possible.

feeding ground
Noun

region where organisms go to eat.

focal
Adjective

central and important.

growth rate
Noun

measurement of how fast something increases in size during a particular period of time.

hazardous
Noun

involving the possibility of risk, loss, or harm

impact
Verb

to influence or have an effect on something.

implement
Verb

to carry out plans.

internal
Adjective

inside, or having to do with the inner part of something.

interrupt
Verb

to break the uniformity or continuity of something.

key
Noun

an explanation of symbols and abbreviations used on a map, also known as a legend.

Noun

symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.

map layer
Noun

part of a map representing specific features of a place.

measure
Verb

to determine the numeric value of something, often in comparison with something else, such as a determined standard value.

method
Noun

way of doing something.

migration cue
Noun

natural signal, such as a change in temperature, to which animals respond by migrating to more hospitable habitats.

migration pattern
Noun

predictable movements, in time and space, of a group of animals or people.

migration route
Noun

path followed by birds or other animals that migrate regularly.

model
Noun

image or impression of an object used to represent the object or system.

overcrowd
Verb

to fill an area with too many objects or organisms.

pelagic
Adjective

having to do with the open ocean.

perilous
Adjective

dangerous.

perspective
Noun

point of view or way of looking at a situation.

pole
Noun

extreme north or south point of the Earth's axis.

population
Noun

total number of people or organisms in a particular area.

predator
Noun

animal that hunts other animals for food.

prey
Noun

animal that is hunted and eaten by other animals.

reasoning
Noun

process of using evidence to make inferences or conclusions using logic.

reproduce
Verb

to create offspring, by sexual or asexual means.

resource
Noun

substances such as water, air, shelter, and food sources which are valuable in supporting life.

revise
Verb

to correct or improve an existing material, often a written document.

scale
Noun

distinctive relative size, extent, or degree.

solution
Noun

an answer to a problem.

species
Noun

group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

Noun

native, geographic area in which an organism can be found. Range also refers to the geographic distribution of a particular species.

stakeholder
Noun

person or organization that has an interest or investment in a place, situation, or company.

surveillance
Noun

observation of a person, community, or situation.

survival
Noun

ability to live.

symbol
Noun

something used to represent something else.

Noun

degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.

tracking
Noun

process in which scientists and resource managers use technology to tag animals and map their movements.

trigger
Verb

to cause or begin a chain of events.

wind turbine
Noun

machine that produces power using the motion of wind to turn blades.

Yellowstone National Park
Noun

large national park in the U.S. states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.