Coastal Ecology—Arctic Ocean Ecology

Summary: Students analyze data from the Arctic Ocean expeditions to make inferences about productivity and nutritional relationships among three biological realms of the Canada Basin of the Arctic Ocean.

Concepts to teach: Food webs, trophic levels, sea-ice realm, pelagic realm, benthic realm, nitrogen isotopes

Goals: Students will examine data collected from Arctic Ocean Explorations to describe ecological relationships among three realms.

Standards:

Specific Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to describe how ratios of stable nitrogen isotopes can be used to study trophic relationships between marine organisms.
  2. Given data on stable nitrogen isotope ratios, students will be able to make inferences about trophic relationships between organisms and habitats.
  3. Students will be able to compare and contrast organisms in sea ice, pelagic, and benthic communities in terms of feeding strategies and consequent stable nitrogen isotope ratios.

Activity Links and Resources:

  • Being Productive in the Arctic Ocean from NOAA Ocean Explorer
    • Students identify major factors that limit primary productivity in the Arctic Ocean, and use data to infer which factors are having a limiting effect
  • What’s Eating You? lesson plan from NOAA Ocean Explorer
    • Students use ratios of nitrogen isotopes to make inferences about trophic relationships between three realms in the Arctic Ocean.

Assessment:

  • Assessment opportunities included in the lesson plans.