1.   Classes 1 and 2

WOTW:  CANI – Constant and Never-Ending Improvement.  Something I will harp on throughout the course.  Note that the enemy of excellence is “good enough.”

Objectives:  top of P-5

1)       Define Environmental Science and distinguish it from Ecology. :Man’s impact vs interrelationships

2)       List the five major fields of study that contribute to ES:

3)       Biology

4)       Earth Science

5)       Physics

6)       Chemistry

7)       Social Sciences:  Because this is man we are talking about.  Mankind’s social structures impact what he does and needs, and that impacts the environment.

8)       Describe the major environmental effects of man through the ages:  See table on P7.

9)       Hunter gatherer

10)   Agricultural Revolution

11)   Industrial Revolution

12)   Biotechnological Revolution [my addition]

13)   Distinguish between renewable and non-renewable resources

14)   Classify environmental problems into three categories: 

15)   Depletion

16)   Pollution

Loss of diversity

Bookwork:  Chapter 1-1, pp 4-15

1.       Understanding Our Environment:  Ask the class:  What is the Environment?  What is that man doing on P-4?  Rainforest canopy is an environment with distinct characteristics- lots of rain, no retained water, no soil, lots of light on top, little light down low.  Consequently, distinctly different species have evolved there i.e. Bromeliads (plants that hold water).

a.       What is Environmental Science?  Man and the Earth

                                                               i.      The Goals of ES:  Understand and solve or mitigate environmental problems.

                                                             ii.      Many Fields of Study: ES is an interdisciplinary science.  In addition to the closely related ecology, it involves biology, geology, physics, materials science, etc.

b.      Scientists as Citizens, Citizens as Scientists

c.       Our environment through time

                                                               i.      Hunter Gatherers: Like the skulls on the shelf.  Subsistence living on the edge.  Depended on skill and sufficient natural resources.  Ask Did the extinction of Pleistocene animals (mammoths, saber tooth cats, and others) cause man to change his ways?  Did man cause the extinction?

                                                             ii.      The Agricultural Revolution:  About 10000 years ago.  Needed a primitive scientist to observe that plants can be grown from seeds.

                                                            iii.      The Industrial Revolution:  Man develops tools to help – then man develops tools to build tools.  Began in the middle of the 1700’s, roughly contemporary with the American Revolution.  Driven by new technology like steam and energy from coal and oil.  Expanded further with electricity.

                                                           iv.      Improving Quality of Life:  Further technology led to things we accept gladly today; plastics, air conditioning, computers, automobiles (love/hate depending on reliability) etc.  Use and production led to environmental consequences which were ignored for a long time until the cost/risk/benefit balance swung the other way.   

d.      Spaceship Earth

                                                               i.      Population Growth & Local Pressure

e.       What are our main environmental Problems?

                                                               i.      Resource Depletion: 

1.       Renewable vs non-renewable  (p14 book says millions of years to replenish a non-renewable resource?  How do you replenish minerals?)


2.       Problem for the environment or man or both?  (Consider that the economics of resource harvest i.e. mining or oil drilling, depends on the cost of production vs the value in the market.  Higher market value resulting from scarcity means that companys will go to greater lengths to obtain the resource.)

                                                             ii.      Pollution:  Ask the class:  What is definition?  Waste?  Is Guano included?  Human corpses?  Dead trees?  Does it depend on concentration / impact?  What about volcanic gases?  Meteors & Comets?  Masses of dead fish killed by plankton blooms?

1.       Biodegradeable

2.       Non-biodegradeable

3.       [Radioactive?]

                                                            iii.      Loss of Biodiversity:  Extinction events have occurred in the past – end of Permian 250mya, end of Cretacious 65mya.  Ask:  What is the importance of having a diversity of life on this planet?

                                                           iv.      Technology:  How does technology impact the environment? 

Homework:  Day 1:  Review Ch 1-1, pp 4-15  Day 2:  Read Ch


Enrichment Topics:

1.       The extinction of North American Megafauna:

a.       Giant sloths, beavers, mastodon’s, camels, and many others all went extinct about 15,000 years ago.

                                                               i.      Was it people? (They arrived ca. 20,000 ya)

                                                             ii.      Was it disease? (How can we tell?  Brought by people?)

                                                            iii.      Was it climate change? (How did climate change?)

b.      Hunter/gatherers as polluters?

2.       Ghosts of Evolution

a.       Avocado tree – depended on now-extinct animals for success (??)

b.      Pronghorn Antelope:  60 mph speed easily tops all present day predators, why?  Ancient Cheetah.

c.       Human Appendix?

3.       Cases and Anecdotes:

a.       Bromeliads in rain forest canopies.  Capable of supporting reproducing populations of frogs.

b.      Invasive species:  zebra mussels, tumbleweeds, Eurasian milfoil.

c.       Lake Washington p 12

d.      Ivory billed woodpecker p 14

e.       Canadian Lynx, re-introduced to Colorado, Researchers later found Lynx that were shot, still with their radio collars on and some bare collars indicating a killed lynx taken for trophy. Lynx formerly inhabited most of the US.

f.        Tasmanian Tigers of Tasmania.

Bookwork:  Chapter 1-2, pp 16-21

2.       The Environment and Society

a.       The Tragedy of the Commons:  [English property law term of tenancy in common, partial ownership of undivided land].  This is simple competition for limited resource, the farmer who put the most livestock on the land the earliest got the most benefit.  If he waits or sends a smaller herd, the animals owned by other farmers will eat more and leave less for him.  On his own land, he maximizes his yield by not overgrazing.  Modernly, single entity management of the large common would prevent overgrazing, result in higher yield, and reduce the resources devoted to fencing and individual effort.

b.      Economics and the Environment

                                                               i.      Supply and Demand:  (p 17  if the supply decreases, using less is not an option, it is mandatory.  Oil consumption is so essential today that it is considered to be price insensitive in the short term – people will pay much more for oil than even today’s prices.  The OPEC cartel has regular meetings to establish price and production levels for oil exporting countries.   Over the long term, alternatives to oil will limit long term prices.  Inference:  If you want cheaper oil, find functional alternatives.)

                                                             ii.      Costs and Benefits Analysis:  The basic name for most of the decisions made by people.  Problems  can arise when some costs are hidden or unknown – you don’t get the bargain you signed up for.  DDT for example – sprayed for mosquitos, picked up by cockroaches, eaten by geckos, caused nervous system disorders which made gecko’s slower, eaten by cats, fewer geckos ate fewer ___ and fleas carrying the plague multiplied causing more plague than the malaria that was sought to be controlled by spraying the mosquitos. 

                                                            iii.      Risk Assessment

1.       Curious that public feels Nuclear energy is so risky while “experts” feel that is safe.  How does this happen?  How does nuclear energy get such a bad name?  Are the “experts” wrong?  Is the media involved?  Fossil fuel providers?

c.       Developed and Developing Countries

d.      Population and Consumption

                                                               i.      Local Population Pressures

                                                             ii.      Consumption Trends

                                                            iii.      Ecological Footprints

e.       Environmental Science in Context

                                                               i.      Critical Thinking and the Environment

f.        A Sustainable World



Class 3

Word of the Week: Endurance – Shackleton (ship, book, movie), Daily struggle,

Dec 5, 1914:  Shackleton left South Georgia Island on an adventure to cross Antartica.

Oct. 27, 1915: abandoned the ship in –10F as the ship was crushed by pack ice.

April 24 - May 10, 1916:  Six of the crew crossed 850 miles of southern ocean to reach South Georgia Island in their whale boat “James Caird” leaving 22 of the crew stranded on Elephant Island.

August 30, 1916:  Returned and rescued the remaining crew


Winston Churchill "Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.'' Oct. 29, 1941 at Harrow School.

Pass Back and Review Previous Class work: (20 min)

Review Objectives: Chapter 1  (5 min + Q’s)

1.1.1          Define Environmental Science and compare environmental science with ecology. (p 6)

1.1.2          List the five major fields of study that contribute to environmental science: (p 7)

1.1.3          Describe the major environmental effect of hunter-gatherers, the agricultural revolution, and the industrial revolution. (p 9-11)

1.1.4          Distinguish between renewable and non-renewable resources. (p 14)

1.1.5          Classify environmental problems into three major categories. (p 14-15)


1.2.1          Describe the “Tragedy of the Commons” (p 16)

1.2.2          Explain the law of supply and demand as it relates to the environment. (p 17)

1.2.3          List three differences between developed and developing countries. (p 18)

1.2.4          Explain what sustainability is, and describe why it is a goal of environmental science. (21)


Classwork:  Page 23, Do questions, 1-15, 17, 19, 22-24.  This is taking place of normal chapter exam, like a practice. It is open book.


Alternate ClassworkDo the Review exam on P 636. (35 min)


When you finish, read the Chapter 1 Exploration Lab beginning on Page 26.  I didn’t want to devote a class session to doing this here on the school grounds.  However I recommend taking a magnifying glass and finding a good spot near your own home where you can look at those portions of the environment that you ordinarily walk over without a second thought. 


Read “Making a difference” on p28-29 and then go on to Ch 2.


Homework:  Read Chapter 2-1 and 2-2, be ready to discuss them. 



Class 4

Word of the Week: Endurance


Chapter 2: Tools of Environmental Science

Section 1: Scientific methods.


2.1.1          List and describe the steps of the experimental method.

2.1.2          Describe why a good hypothesis is not simply a guess.

2.1.3          Describe the two essential parts of a good experiment.

2.1.4          Describe how scientists study subjects in which experiments are not possible.

2.1.5          Explain the importance of curiosity and imagination in science.


The Experimental Method: (aka the Scientific Method)


Observing:  Begin with an observation, one in which you have curiosity.  Gathered from our senses including those instruments that extend our senses (microscopes, telescopes, satellites, etc.)  Page 31 at bottom, what is the tale of the tail for the tranquilized wolf?  [couldn’t find any good answer, although the tail measurement seems to be common.  Perhaps it indicates skeletal frame size which, when compared to weight, is in indicator of musculature & fat or simply health.]


Hypothesizing and Predicting:    Observations > answers and more questions.  A hypothesis is a testable statement explaining the observations.  It should combine the observations with existing scientific theory (if applicable) and logic. 


KHS:  Observed that the number of mussels was declining at a local stream. 

They hypothesized that water quality may be a factor. 

They tested the water and found increasing levels of phosphate in samples that were taken further down the stream. 

They understood that phosphate can come from fertilizers used on lawns.

They observed that bordering the stream was a golf course on which fertilizer was likely to be used.

They questioned that the golf course may be the source of the phosphate.

They also questioned what effect phosphate would have on mussels.


Experimenting:  Questions arose from the observations and developing the hypothesis.  In this case, scientists will carefully design and perform experiments designed to test a hypothesis. 

 Test with one variable, keep all other potential factors under control. 

Two groups are usually tested:  One with the variable factor is called the experimental group, the other without it is called the control group


KHS:  Performed an experiment using two tanks of similar mussels, added phosphate to the experimental group, added nothing to the control group.


Replications:  Often, several repeated tests are necessary to make sure that experimental error or other unknown factors have not corrupted the test. 


Note:  A Law in science, as opposed to a theory, is a prediction of the behavior of a system – like F=ma – it does not explain the behavior.  A theory is there to explain the behavior.


Organizing and Analyzing Data:  Data is often organized into tables and graphically to assist interpretation.  Graphs display relationships and trends.


Drawing Conclusions:   the data and the experimental results are evaluated to see how they affect the hypothesis.  The result will be one of three conditions:  (1) the data and experiment support the hypothesis; (2) the data and experiment disprove the hypothesis; or (3) the data and experiment is inconclusive with respect to the hypothesis.  Statistical tools help to draw the conclusion.


Repeating Experiments: Scientists are and should be skeptics.  They need and should demand very substantial amounts of supporting data before accepting a new hypothesis.  The experiments forming the basis for the conclusion should be repeatable by others with the same results.


Communicating Results:  Scientists publish in peer-reviewed journals.  Their experiments, data, and conclusions are made available for others in the same field to review and comment on.


The Correlation Method:  [pull tree ring samples down from overhead]

Some quantities may not be measured directly, but information may be stored in a form that correlates with the quantity.  Tree rings (dendrochronology) for example preserve information regarding growing conditions over past years – rainfall, etc. 

Does anybody know about the Roanoke Colony in Virginia?  Sent to colonize the area in 1587, subsequent settlers could find no trace.  Tree rings in 1587 and 1588 were very thin, a condition likely caused by a severe drought. 

Patterns in tree rings can be compared for living trees as well as trees that died long ago.  By piecing together similar patterns from the inner trunk of a younger tree with the outer trunk of an older tree the timeline can be extended far back into history.  Bristlecone pine trees in the White Mountains of California contain ring information that goes back almost 9,000 years.


Scientific Habits of Mind:

Key characterists shared by many scientists…


Curiosity:  Endlessly curious about what they observe in nature.


Skepticism:  Scientists want not just statements of belief, but data.  Just say “Show me the Data!”


Openness to New Ideas:  But once shown the supporting data, scientists should have an open mind to accept new hypotheses and theories.


Intellectual Honesty:  Since every hypothesis may, by design, be proved wrong – a scientist cannot become so attached to his/her hypothesis that he promotes it in advance of or in the face of contrary data.  In any event, as others try the experiment, the truth will come out.  So don’t fudge the data!


Imagination and Creativity:  Good scientists will use their powers of observation, their curious nature, their training, and whatever else helps to imagine and create new ideas or hypotheses.  See p37 for the map drawn by John Snow.  He used location data to show that people who were infected with cholera lived in closer proximity to one particular water well than to others.  The data, presented in this way, made it easy to conclude that that particular well was contaminated.


Review Objectives:

2.1.1          List and describe the steps of the experimental method.

2.1.2          Describe why a good hypothesis is not simply a guess.

2.1.3          Describe the two essential pars of a good experiment.

2.1.4          Describe how scientist study subjects in which experiments are not possible.

2.1.5          Explain the importance of curiosity and imagination in science.


Homework:  Read and be ready to discuss 2-2 on pages 38-49.  Do questions 1, 2, 6, 10, 17, 19-21, on pages 51 and 52.



Class 5


Word of the Week: Endurance


Chapter 2: Tools of Environmental Science

Section 2: Statistics & Models



2.2.1          Explain how scientists use statistics.

2.2.2          Explain why the use of a statistical sample is important.

2.2.3          Describe three types of models commonly used by scientists.

2.2.4          Explain the relationship between probability and risk.

2.2.5          Explain the importance of conceptual and mathematical models.


How Scientists Use Statistics:  To analyze, characterize, and summarize data.  To make rational sense out of otherwise imperceptible patterns.


Statistics Works with Populations: A population or large group, provides the essential basis for analysis.  The number in the group necessary in order to achieve the desired level of rational sense increases with the variation between the individuals.


What is the Average:  For a population with a measurable characteristic – length in a mussel, or height in a person – if you add up all of these measurements and divide by the number of individuals being measured, the result is the mean or average measurement.


The Distribution:  If instead you count the numbers of individuals in a population who meet a certain range of values within a measurable characteristic, you can plot those numbers and arrive at the distribution plot.  Say the number of classmates who are between 5’6” and 5’-8” tall, then over the next two inch span, and so on until all of the students in class have been counted.  Scientists often use a curve with a particular shape known as the “Normal” distribution curve.  This is often referred to as the bell-curve.


What is probability:  Simply the mathematical likelihood over a condition being satisfied compared to not being satisfied.  Heads vs tails in a coin flip – since each flip has equal chance, the probability of either is 50% for each flip.


Statistics in Everyday Life:  Sports anyone?  Batting averages, yards per carry, shots blocked on goal percentage, games won on Wednesday evenings when it doesn’t rain… etc.  Chance of rain…sunshine. 


Understanding the News:  Average household incomes,  stock trends,


Thinking About Risk:  The probability of an unwanted outcome. 


Models:  Come in several flavors. 


Physical Models:  Good for looking at and holding  to help you understand how the real object works.


Graphical Models:  Maps, in particular. 


Conceptual Models: But include logic diagrams and flow charts that people use to build a bridge of understanding to an unknown.


Mathematical Models:  Used everywhere – weather forecasting, virtually all engineering design, watershed and landform modeling, stream flow estimates, forest growth, fire probabilities, etc.



Section 3:  Making Informed Decisions



2.3.1          Describe three values that people consider when making decisions about the environment.

2.3.2          Describe the four steps in a simple environmental decision making model.

2.3.3          Compare the short-term and long-term consequences of two decisions regarding a hypothetical environmental issue.



An Expanded Environmental Decision-Making Model






What is beautiful or pleasing

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  What is natural need not always be beautiful – a stinky mudflat?


The gain or loss of money, property, or jobs

Who gains, who loses, and over what periods of time?  Is it ok to take 100 acres of old growth forest away from big corporation that owns tens of thousands of acres?  For whose benefit?


The effect on natural resources

The effect on the “environment”  [when you use the term “natural resources” doesn’t it imply that all of the environment is there to be used?  Should it be?


The accumulation and sharing of knowledge

Where in the process does this arise?  Who benefits?  Who pays?


Right or Wrong

Can you have an absolute right or wrong without referring to the other values in this table?


Maintenance of human health

Over what time period?  Which humans do you refer to?  The ones directly involved, or 4 generations hence?  Do you discount the interests of future generations?  Should we deny a farmer in the amazon basin the right to clear land for crops to prevent global warming that threatens micronesian islanders?


Allowed by law?

Do you change the law?  Recall the Lake Washington story.  What about activist groups that disregard the law?  Who decides the law anyway? “Private property shall not be taken for a public use without just compensation.”  5th Amendment.  What is property?  What is taking?


Human leisure activities.

What about conflicting leisure activities?  Quiet fishing vs jet skis?  What about loud boats?  What about two stroke engines in snowmobiles or PWC’s?  Dirt bikes vs horses? 


Increasing scientific knowledge

Do we preserve areas solely for study?  Who benefits?  Who pays?


The maintenance of human communities and their values and traditions.

Do we maintain a strip mine for the sake of the its community? Should people be expected to move based on the desires of others?




A Hypothetical Situation: 

How to Use the Decision-Making Model

Gather Information

Consider Values

Explore Consequences

Make a Decision



Class 12


Substitute: In the last class, I announced that we would be having a test over chapters 1-4 during this class session - Monday.  However, as I always give an oral review and Q&A prior to the exam, the exam will be postponed until Wednesday.  In lieu of that, we have started Chapter 5 so continue with that. 

Word(s) of the Week:  Reality & Security

The word for last week was imagination – the ability to turn a blank sheet of paper, or a blank mind (not that any of you would have such a thing) into something of interest, benefit, or beauty.   This week, we are back to the basics.  We eat, sleep, live, work, laugh, love, and ultimately die in the real world.  But while reality simply “is”, in the unalterable present, the future is up to you.

"The reality of things consists in their persistent forcing themselves upon our recognition. If a thing has no such persistence, it is a mere dream. Reality, then, is persistence, is regularity" (Peirce c.1897:358).

Such dryness characterizes that which is not yet fondly remembered (like the past) or anxiously anticipated (like the future).  But don’t lose sight of the moment… 

"Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel."
Horace Walpole, English author and man of letters (1717-1797)

In a similar vein:

“Imagination was given to us to compensate for what we are not; a sense of humor was given to us to console us for what we are.”
Mack McGinnis

To me, the reality of life, this life, my life, has adopted its own mantra, graciously donated by Helen Keller:

“Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable."
Helen Keller, American social activist, public speaker and author (1880-1968)

Speaking of dryness…

Review: The

Objective:  The Cycling of Materials

5.2.1          Describe the short-term and long-term process of the carbon cycle.

5.2.2          Identify one way that humans are affecting the carbon cycle.

5.2.3          List the three stages of the nitrogen cycle.

5.2.4          Describe the role that nitrogen fixing bacteria play in the nitrogen cycle.

5.2.5          Explain how the excessive use of fertilizer can affect the nitrogen and phosphorous cycles.


Idaho Standard:

9-10.B.1.1.1 Explain the scientific meaning of system, order, and organization. (648.01a)

9-10.B.1.1.2 Apply the concepts of order and organization to a given system. (648.01a)

9-10.B.5.2.3 Explain how science and technology are pursued for different purposes. (656.01b)

Content Limit:  Items should address the role of technology in applying science to improve some aspect of human life, and the role of science in answering questions and extending knowledge.


Introduction: One of the most omnipresent issues that is discussed in coffee houses, dinner tables, universities and governmental offices around the world is of course global warming.  Global warming is grounded in the carbon cycle but the nitrogen cycle and phosphate cycles will also play a part.  If that weren’t enough, solar processes and the earth’s history also come into play.  In our book, the introduction of the cycles takes up just one section.  We will revisit global warming in more detail in Chapter 13 but I want you to have a better understanding from this point. 

            For today, read section 5-2 on the cycles in the environment. 


Carbon Cycle:  As the single foundation of organic life, Carbon is the single most essential component of life on Earth.  In its various forms, Carbon provides the chemical backbone for all of our cells, proteins, energy and DNA.  It has always been so.  Since the creation of the planet, carbon has been engaged in various cycles, moving in and out of living organisms, moving in and out of the atmosphere and the oceans.  Finally, enormous quantities of carbon have been locked into long-term storage in the form of limestone rocks (calcium carbonate).  Huge quantities of carbon were also locked away in what you could call intermediate-term storage about 250 million years ago in sediments that transformed into deposits of coal and oil.  More still is found in underground deposits of natural gas (methane) and underwater deposits of clathrate (methane hydrate).


How Humans Affect the Carbon Cycle: The industrial revolution (recall chapter 1 section 2) transformed human society from one which relied on biological energy (humans, animals, and burning wood) into one which extracts much of its energy from the carbon reserves that the Earth locked away long ago.  By moving into the reserves, the ancient carbon is being returned to enter into the cycles once again. 


The essence of the cycle:  Think of the carbon cycle as an industrial process.  You can begin with a reservoir or storehouse of a certain raw material.  A process then works on that material and transforms it into a different substance which is stored in a second reservoir.  A subsequent process then returns the material back in to its original form and places it back into the original reservoir.  And the process or cycle begins again. 


Once the ancient carbon is returned to the surface to take place in the carbon cycle, its effect will be felt in each of the reservoirs as well as in the process machinery.  Page 125 notes that about 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide enter the atmosphere through various avenues of both natural and human origin.  By my calculation, that amounts to about one part per million, per year.


The Nitrogen Cycle: Proteins in your body and in all other life forms are built from amino acids.  All amino acids use nitrogen in their structure. In spite of the fact that the atmosphere is composed of 78% nitrogen, neither animals nor plants get their nitrogen directly from the air.  Almost all of the nitrogen that enters biological cycles is converted by nitrogen fixing bacteria into a form that can be used by plants.  Animals then get it from the plants.


Decomposers and the Nitrogen Cycle: Once the nitrogen becomes part of organic matter – either animal or vegetable, it will be returned to the atmosphere by other bacterial decomposers or drawn up again into a new generation of plants.  In addition, animals excrete excess nitrogen in the form of urine and dung.


When you read about the Nitrogen Cycle, consider how it impacts the Carbon Cycle.  Think Green.  The plant processes that cycle nitrogen over the lifetime of the plant also cycle carbon on a daily basis.


The Phosphorous Cycle:  Like nitrogen, phosphorous is essential for life.  All plants and animal cells use a phosphorous containing material called Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to generate energy for the plant or animal.  No phosphorous, no energy.  No energy, no life.  Unlike carbon and nitrogen, phosphorous doesn’t enter the atmosphere.  It remains instead in the soils and in the water. 

            The cycling then only occurs in the life supporting zones of the soil and water courses.  After some time, the phosphorous can get locked into sediments at the bottom of the oceans and lakes.  At that point it is lost to the cycle.


Fertilizers and the Nitrogen and Phosphorous Cycle:  Man has sought out and mined nitrate and phosphate rocks to make fertilizer.  This material accelerates plant growth and provides more food for man and his animals.  Because of its ability to accelerate plant growth, when fertilizers enter streams, they can cause excessive growth of plants which then die and depress oxygen levels in the water.  Here in northern Idaho this is embraced by the term “nutrient loading” and it has contributed to the rise of eurasian milfoil as a noxious weed in Lake Pend Oreille.


Acid Precipitation:  Man’s industrial activities – especially burning fossil fuels – have put a number of chemicals into the atmosphere in higher concentrations than would be there naturally.  Some of these chemicals will be absorbed into moisture in the clouds and form acids.  Those acids are returned to the surface as rain or snow.  The book refers to nitric oxides, but oxides of sulfur have the same effect.  Note that some of this, particularly oxides of sulfur, can have a natural origin in the form of volcanoes.



How does the carbon cycle work? 

Where are the reservoirs? 

What is the machinery? 

What energy source powers each cycle?

How does nitrogen and phosphorous impact the carbon cycle?


Higher order thinking for homework:  Assume that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere helps trap the energy from sunlight  on the earth.  That will gradually raise the average global temperature.  Research and list the impacts of the increasing temperature for discussion after the test on Wednesday.   What human impacts are involved?  What human activities can be altered to change the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?  How much would these changes make to human society?






Test Review Ch 1 – 4


1.      Define Environmental Science and distinguish it from Ecology. :Man’s impact vs interrelationships

2.      List the five major fields of study that contribute to ES:

a)       Biology

b)      Earth Science

c)       Physics

d)      Chemistry

3.      Social Sciences:  Because this is man we are talking about.  Mankind’s social structures impact what he does and needs, and that impacts the environment.

4.      Describe the major environmental effects of man through the ages:  See table on P7.

a)       Hunter gatherer

b)      Agricultural Revolution

c)       Industrial Revolution

d)      Biotechnological Revolution [my addition]

5.      Distinguish between renewable and non-renewable resources

6.      Classify environmental problems into three categories: 

a)       Depletion

b)      Pollution

i)         Biodegradeable

ii)       Non-biodegradeable

iii)      [Radioactive?]

3.       Loss of diversity

4.       The Environment and Society

a.       The Tragedy of the Commons

5.       Economics and the Environment

a.       Supply and Demand:

b.      Costs and Benefits Analysis:

c.       Risk Assessment

6.       Developed and Developing Countries

a.       Population and Consumption

                                                               i.      Local Population Pressures

                                                             ii.      Consumption Trends

                                                            iii.      Ecological Footprints

7.       Environmental Science in Context

a.       Critical Thinking and the Environment

8.       A Sustainable World

9.       Scientific Method

a.       List and describe the steps of the experimental method

                                                               i.      Observations

                                                             ii.      Generating Hypothesis and predicting

                                                            iii.      Experimenting

                                                           iv.      Organizing and analyzing data

                                                             v.      Drawing conclusions

                                                           vi.      Repeating Experiments

                                                          vii.      Communicating Results

b.      Describe why a good hypothesis is not simply a guess.

c.       Describe the two essential parts of a good experiment.

d.      Describe how scientists study subjects in which experiments are not possible.

e.       Explain the importance of curiosity and imagination in science.

10.   Statistics & Models

a.       Explain how scientists use statistics.

b.      Explain why the use of a statistical sample is important.

c.       Describe three types of models commonly used by scientists.

d.      Explain the relationship between probability and risk.

e.       Explain the importance of conceptual and mathematical models


October 16, 2007

WOTW:  Success

Books:  Last week I was told that the books shipped on Oct.8.  You may be excused for thinking that this indicated that the books actually began their journey to Clark Fork on that date.  You, unfortunately, would be wrong.  In the new English  “shipped” means that they considered shipping them.  They promise that the books will be here this week.  Whatever that means.

Review of Project Ideas and Possibilities:

Fish Hatchery:  Jacob, Patricia.

Antelope Lake:  Bryce, Brittany Wilder

Clean Up Clark Fork:  Claire

School Recycling Program:  Claire, Danielle, Rachel, Kandice, Jacob, Patricia

Kokanee Spawning:  Hanna Hurt

Trail Walking:  Rachel, Kandice, Jacob, Hanna Hurt, Patricia

Bird Condos & Cafés:  Danielle

Note of Interest:  Biofuels – Corn vs Jatropha, project potential for anyone who is into the subject – extra credit for a thorough report.


Chapter 5 Section 3:  How Ecosystems Change


            5.3.1     List two examples of ecological succession.

            5.3.2     Explain how a pioneer species contributes to ecological succession.

            5.3.3     Explain what happens during old-field succession.

            5.3.4     Describe how lichens contribute to primary succession.


Ecological Succession:  The gradual process of change and replacement of the types of species in a community.  In essence, this is the battle over space and energy.  The best adapted will survive, the intermediaries will perish unless they can co-exist.

Primary Succession:  The first stage when life comes to inhabit a lifeless area.  Picture the Krakatoa volcano after its catastrophic explosion on August 27, 1883.  The blast turned a 2600 ft high volcanic island into an 800 ft deep hole in the ocean floor.  What remained of the island after the blast was virtually sterile.  Biological researchers reached the island in May of 1884 and found only a single spider.  In subsequent years, life has returned to the island and it has become a very intensively studied location both for those with a geological bent and those interested in environmental biology.  A similar circumstance exists on the island of Surtsey,Iceland.  This island is a part of the mid-Atlantic ridge and was born out of the ocean in a series of volcanic eruptions from 1963 to 1967.  Unlike Krakatoa,this is a completely new island.  Check it out at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surtsey  for a Wikiarticle and go to  http://www.surtsey.is/pp_ens/biola_2.htm for the full biological treatment.

disrupted by outside forces – humans, volcanoes, storms, floods, fires, etc.  Mount St. Helens is an example of secondary succession.  It is different than Krakatoa because of the amount of life that remained and because of its proximity to sources of succession species.  Mount St. Helens, for as much devastation it caused, created cleared areas that were nevertheless bordered by forests and the level of devastation tapered off the as you moved away from the volcano.  Many areas devastated by Mount St. Helens also contained survivor organisms in the form of seeds, etc. 

Pioneer Species: (founder species): the first life to colonize a devastated area.  Must be genetically distinct from possible survivors. 

Climax Community:  a stable community of organisms that prevails over all others in an ecosystem.

Fire and Secondary Succession:  Certain species depend on fires to disperse their seeds – in that way they take maximum advantage of the destruction of competitors caused by fire.

Old-field succession:  When farmer brown retires, his plot “goes to seed.”  Weeds initiate a takeover that progresses into a climax community over a period of perhaps a century.

Primary Succession:  May take a very long time, depending on the nutrients and soil available.  Krakatoa is much recovered after 124 years, but an area of sterile granite needs to build soil first.  When it comes down to breaking down rock, lichens are the slow but persistent agent of change.  (when thinking about lichens, think about Mt. Rushmore, where lichens are degrading the rock.)

Handout the quiz for this section, take it, grade it, retrieve it, enter it, done with it…

Group Review – do quizzes in groups for sections 1 & 2 – not graded.

End of Chapter 5


October 18, 2007

Review & Test on Chapter 5,   

October 22, 2007


Pass Back Exam – Review


Chapter 6 Biomes

Section 1: What is a Biome?


            6.1.1     Describe how plants determine the name of a biome.

            6.1.2     Explain how temperature and precipitation determine which plants grow in an area.

            6.1.3     Explain how latitude and altitude affect which plants grow in an area.







Biome:  A biome is a large region characterized by a specific type of climate and certain types of plants and animal communities.  Each biome is made up of many individual ecosystems.

Classification of a Biome:  Depends on the type of plants that live there as plants form the foundation of the food chain.

Biomes & Climate:  The classification of a biome depends on its plants, and plants will grow in areas within certain climates.  That is why we grow potatoes in Idaho rather than Bananas.  So, in this way, Biomes are determined by the climate because that is what determines the plants.

Climate Factors:  The primary climate factors are temperature and precipitation.  Temperature is directly related to the latitude of a region as well as its altitude.  The further from the equator an area is, and the higher in altitude it is, the colder it gets.  Different plants tolerate cold differently.  Rainfall is a little more complicated and depends on atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns as well as regional topography.

Look at the World Biome Map on 143 – ask who has visited Biome’s other than Idaho’s “Mountains” Biome.  Ask them to describe the region.

Beyond the Book:  There are actually a few different systems for classifying Biome’s.  For more information, look up Biome on Wikipedia.  Rather than look to precipitation, they depend more on humidity.

Visit the following link to uncover the strange new biome of the endolith – single celled organisms that live deep in the earth or in other very inhospitable places. http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/extreme/endolith/general.html

Do the Section Review on Page 145 as groups.

For homework, Read Section 6-2.  We will have a quiz on 6-1 on Wednesday.

Review of Project Ideas and Possibilities:





Fish Hatchery:   

Contact Info?

When?  What?

How much Help?

Jacob, Patricia

Contact Hatchery


Antelope Lake:

Schedule a Weekend?  ClassDay?

Bryce, Brittany Wilder

Before snow


Clean Up Clark Fork: 

Weekend or Classday?  Soon it will be too dark for class days.





School Recycling Program: 


Claire, Danielle, Rachel, Kandice, Jacob, Patricia


Boxes with Labels

Collecting Bags


Kokanee Spawning: 


Hanna Hurt



Trail Walking: 


Rachel, Kandice, Jacob, Hanna Hurt, Patricia



Bags, poker sticks

Bird Condos & Cafés:  

Check with F&G:  Adviseable?  Which species?



What to build?

What to feed?




Extra credit will be available for each activity starting with a report and then per hour of effort “on the job.”






Extra Credit Report:  Biofuels – Corn vs Jatropha, project potential for anyone who is into the subject – extra credit for a thorough report.  30 points available (equal to an exam).  For this you must:

Ø       Describe the two plants including maps and descriptions of growing regions, climate, irrigation needs (if any).

Ø       Describe the amount of energy available as fuel from a unit area – acre, square meter, etc.  Does this correlate with latitude, altitude, humidity?

Ø       What is the nature of the plant?  Is it an annual or perennial?

Ø       Suitability for mechanical harvesting or manual harvesting?

Ø       Is the plant suitable for food?  How much would diversion of the material for fuel impact the price of its food derivatives?

Ø       Prepare a formal report and a PowerPoint presentation for the class.

Ø       Due date is negotiable.



October 24, 2007


Chapter 6-2: Forest Biomes

Introduction:  This is a fact loaded section.  Understand the general themes of climate and adaptation, but try to remember how the key pieces – specific plants, animals, soils, climate, latitude, etc.


6.2.1          List three characteristics of tropical rain forests.

6.2.2          Name and describe the main layers of a tropical rain forest.

6.2.3          Describe one plant in a temperate deciduous forest and an adaptation that helps the plant survive.

6.2.4          Describe one adaptation that may help an animal survive in the taiga.

6.2.5          Name two threats to the world’s forest biomes.



            Tropical rain forest

            Emergent Layer




            Temperate rain forest

            Temperate deciduous forest



Features of the Forest Biomes:

            Most widespread and diverse


Tropical Rain Forests

·         Rainfall:  200 > 450 cm per year

·         Atmosphere:  always humid and hot

·         Sunlight:  Strong year round as they are in tropics

·         Warm and Wet conditions support highest diversity of plants

·         Dominated by poor soils and quick decomposition of detritus

·         Defined layers:

o        Understory:  Dense shade:  low plants with huge leaves to gather sparse light

o        Lower Canopy:  Filtered light

o        Upper Canopy:  Bright to filtered light.  Epiphytes (orchids) grow here to obtain sunlight.

o        Emergent Layer:  Trees in direct sunlight.

·         Greatest species diversity.

o        Large number of species leads to greater specialization to minimize competition.

o        Covers 7% of the Land but contains 50% of the species.

·         Threats

o         Habitat destruction – even though resulting soils are poor.

o        Loss is estimated to be 100 acres per minute.

o        Animal loss for exotic pet market.

·         Participant in Ecological Cycles

o        Water cycle as a reservoir, absorbing and transpiring water vapor

·         Protection Trend:  Citing Costa Rica as a fine example.  See Page 150.  Turned unusable rain forest into ecotourism instead of farming. 


Temperate Rain Forests

·         Few areas:  New Zealand, Australia, Olympic Mountains in Washington.

·         High humidity and moderate temperatures.

·         Tall trees with mosses & lichens.




Temperate Deciduous Forests

·         Broad leaves drop off in the winter after the chlorophyll is lost to cold weather.

·         Growing season is 4 to 6 months.

·         Rainfall 75 to 125 cm per year.

·         Rich deep soil owing to falling leaves.

·         Typical Trees: Maple, oak, birch.

·         Thinner forests > more light reaches forest floor so more small trees and shrubs

·         Adapted to survive seasonal changes in temperature.

·         Animals also adapt to the forest and the seasons.

o        Hibernation

o        Migration

o        Slowed metabolism


Taiga: Northern Coniferous Forests  (Russian: “forest”)

·         Occupies a broad band in the Northern Hemisphere just below the Arctic Circle.

·         Long cold winters

·         light precipitation

·         Slow forming soil

·         Short growing season – as short as 50 days but long summer sun

·         Shape of conifer trees – single straight trunk -- sheds snow, preventing branch failure.

·         Acidic Needles from the trees prevent understory growth.

·         Needle shape and waxy covering conserves moisture and energy.

·         Keeping leaves minimizes energy requirements during the growing season.

·         Animals adapt:  Lynxes and Snowshoe hares change color by season and have broad furry feet to travel on soft snow.

·         Animals are also attracted to the many lakes and swamps which contain more available energy (plants) than the nearly barren forest floor.






October 26, 2007

Section 6-3:  Grassland, Desert, and Tundra Biomes


            6.3.1     Describe the difference between tropical and temperate grasslands.

6.3.2     Describe the climate in a chaparral biome.

6.3.3     Describe two desert animals and the adaptations that help them survive.

6.3.4     Describe one threat to the tundra biome.


Key Terms:


            Temperate Grassland







·         Tropical and subtropical

·         Little moisture, all in the wet season

·         Grasses and scattered trees

o        Trees lose trees in the dry season to conserve water.

o        Grasses lose less water due to their design.

o        Large horizontal root systems.

o        Thorns to minimize grazer damage.

o        Prone to fires.

·         Large grazing animals and their predators.

o        Active mostly in wet season

o        Migratory to reach more and better food.

o        Give birth during season of abundant food – wet season

o        Specialize by height of food

§         Gazelles – grass

§         Rhinos – shrubs

§         Giraffes – trees


Temperate Grasslands

·         Mostly outside of the tropics

·         Moderate rainfall, 50 to 88 cm/yr

·         Hot summers, cold winters.

·         Grasses with very few trees (too dry with the summer heat).

o        The more rain, the taller the grass.

·         Replaced with cropland – corn, wheat, soybeans

·         Prone to fires.

·         Grazing and burrowing animals and their predators.

o        Burrows provide protection from fire and predators

·         Threatened by habitat destruction for farming and overgrazing by cattle.  Leads to the dust bowl.



·         Temperate Woodlands,

·         Warm dry summers, mild wet winters.

·         too dry for many trees

·         Dominated by evergreen shrubs

o        Thick leathery leaves retain water

o        Oils that promote burning

§         Burning keeps trees from competing

o        Can resprout from the smallest bits

·         Limited grazers – mule deer

·         Adapted with camouflage

·         Threatened by development



·         Less than 25 cm rainfall per year

o        Often in the rain-shadow of mountains

·         Little or no vegetation

·         Can have extreme temperatures

o        Hot like the Sahara & Sonoran Deserts

o        Cold like the Gobi Desert in China and Great Basin in the USA

·         Plants must be adopted to dry conditions

o        Succulents like Cactus

o        Shallow roots to get soaked by the infrequent rains.

·         Animals must be adapted as well

o        Scaly skins to minimize water loss

o        Summer hibernation (estivating)

o        Most are nocturnal to avoid the heat



·         Extreme cold

·         Plenty of moisture

·         Permafrost in the soil

·         Hardy plants with very short growing season

·         Boggy areas support zillions of bugs

·         Animals

o        Bugs 

o        Bug-eating birds.

o        Grazers like caribou

o        Migratory birds

o        Wolves, polar bears, arctic fox (white phase in winter)

·         Threats: oil exploration(?)






October 30, 2007


WOTW: Indomitable Spirit


Movie on Planet Earth – Pole to Pole

Test Review on Chapter 6, Biomes.


Review Jatropha project and news.

Review project planning.

Test on Wednesday instead.




November 7, 2007: 


Note from TV series “Modern Marvels” – Hawaii grows 120 tons of sugar cane per acre – which becomes 12 tons of sugar.  This is the result of a two year growing cycle.


Sugar Beets:  US grows 35 million metric tons per year, sugar is the same.  Beets flourish in more moderate climates, year-round in California.  Grow for one year.  In one operation, 800,000 tons of beets yields 200 million lbs of sugar.  Ionic exclusion process allowed factory to yield 25% more sugar using the molasses that is left over from conventional sugar processing.  Yield is between 16% and 18% of sugar per pound of beet. Each beet weighs about 3 to 4 lbs.


Brazil – Has 15 million acres devoted to sugar.  Produces ethanol for cars.  Liquid enters 6hr fermentation process where yeast produces alcohol.  Brazil produces 35% of the world’s ethanol – 4 billion gallons.  In the US, ethanol is blended with gasoline and comes from corn.  Flex-fuel cars can burn varying mixtures of ethanol and gasoline.


By law, all stations in Brazil must have alcohol, gas, & diesel pumps.  Ethanol is carbon neutral.  Cost is less than half that for gasoline and power is somewhat higher.  But, ethanol doesn’t vaporize as easily so cars are started on gasoline in cold weather – via a separate tank – and then switch back to ethanol after they warm up. 


November 13, 2007


Quick Review on Ch 6

Test on Ch 6

Pass back Test on Ch 6.

Review in Class

On to Ch 7.


Homework: Read Section 7-1, Do problems 1, 4-7, 9, 10, & 12. on page 187

We will do a re-test on Chapter 6 on Thursday.  This will cover the same material but with different questions.  No notes will be allowed.  I will use the higher score that you get between the two tests.


Chapter 7: Aquatic Ecosystems

Section 7-1: Freshwater Ecosystems



7.1.1    Describe the Factors that determine where an organism lives in an aquatic ecosystem.

            7.1.2    Describe the littoral zone and the benthic zone that make up a lake or pond.

            7.1.3    Describe two environmental functions of wetlands.

            7.1.4    Describe one threat against river ecosystems.







            Littoral Zone

            Benthic Zone



Salinity:  The primary dividing line between aquatic ecosystems.  Marine and freshwater.


Freshwater:  Lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, etc.  Also includes the associated wetlands.



Three types of organisms:


Defining Characteristic




Free floating.  Minimal swimming. 


Goes with the flow…

microscopic animals (zooplankton) and plants (Phytoplankton).  Larva of other groups.

Image:Diatoms through the microscope.jpg


Swimming and agile.


Sets its own pace.

Fish, whales, sea turtles, etc.

Image:Georgia Aquarium - Giant Grouper edit.jpg


Bottom dwelling, attached to structure, crawling, slithering, etc.


Couch potatoes.

Mussels, clams, worms, decomposers.

Giant clam along the Great Barrier Reef.



Lakes and Ponds: 

Littoral Zone:  Near shore, nutrient rich, structure rich, abundant sunlight.  Supports abundant life.

Benthic Zone:  On or near the bottom.  Little or no sunlight, colder temperatures, fewer nutrients.  Less life. 


Eutrophication:  High nutrient loading in a lake leads to extensive plant growth.  Plant death leads to a bacterial population explosion which consumes the available oxygen, which causes animal death. 

Eutrophication is apparent as increased turbidity in the northern part of the Caspian Sea, imaged from orbit.

Photo showing the eutrophication of the Caspian Sea – as seen from orbit.


Freshwater Wetlands: 

Marshes:  Dominated by non-woody plants like cattails, reeds, grasses, etc.

Swamps:  Dominated by woody plants and trees.  Think cypress and mangrove trees.


Many functions: 

Filters the water that flows through them.

            Reduces flooding.

            Protects shoreline against erosion.

            Provides spawning and feeding areas.

            Provides habitat for many species.

            Provides recreational areas.


Human Impacts:  For many years, they were considered useless wastelands – places to be filled in to make them useful to man.  Now, their many benefits are recognized and they are generally protected.  The photo on 177 shows a shallow water oil drilling barge working in a marsh. 



Beginning with melting snow, rivers change their characteristics as they flow downwards.  They start oxygen rich and cold as the clear water tumbles over the rocks.  They transition gradually to become sediment filled, warmer, and slower bodies that lose their oxygen and ability to support life.


Human Impacts:  Man has abused the rivers for years in numerous ways.  While laws have eliminated many of the abuses in this day and age (but not worldwide) some problems remain – think dams.  In the United States, laws were passed in 1972 to protect the surface waters in this country (as opposed to underground aquifers) You can read more about the laws at: http://www.epa.gov/watertrain/cwa/


November 15, 2007


Take a re-test on the last chapter.  No notes may be used.


Review the film we watched. 

Water cycle

Oxygenation of water

Vastly different fresh water conditions in existence.

            Under the ice

            Swift cold streams


            Tropical rains flowing through the Amazon

            Cold deep lakes like Baikal

            Warm tropical lakes like Victoria and Tanganika

            Slow muddy rivers like the Colorado

            Swamps like the everglades.


All the way that life depends on the fresh water.






            Anadromous fish

            Tons and tons of plant life that soaks up the water.

            And a large supporting cast of animals that simply want something to drink.


 While not supplying word-for-word instruction on the environmental issues surrounding the images, the ecosystems presented are what environmental science seeks to understand and protect. 




Section 7-2: Marine Ecosystems



            7.2.1    Explain why an estuary is a very productive ecosystem.

            7.2.2    Compare salt marshes and mangrove swamps.

            7.2.3    Describe two threats to coral reefs.

            7.2.4    Describe two threats to ocean organisms.




            Salt marsh

            Mangrove swamp

            Barrier island

            Coral reef


Coastal Wetlands: 




Plants and Animals:




Salt Marshes:


Mangrove Swamps:


Rocky and Sandy Shores:


Coral Reefs:






Plants and Animals:




Polar Oceans:


Homework:  Read Section 7-2.  Do problems 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 29 


November 19, 2007


Turn in & Review Homework


Watch the Planet segment on Shallow Seas.


Quiz on the Marine Ecosystem

Review & Test on Wednesday covering Aquatic Ecosystems


November 27, 2007




Chapter 8: Understanding Populations

Section 8-1: How Populations Change in Size


                8.1.1      Describe the three main properties of a population.

                8.1.2      Describe exponential population growth.

                8.1.3      Describe how the reproductive behavior of individuals can affect the growth rate of their population.

                8.1.4      Explain how population sizes in nature are regulated.


Key Terms




                Growth rate

                Reproductive potential

                Exponential growth

                Carrying capacity


Population:  All the members of one species living in the same place at the same time.  The term refers both to the quantity or number of individuals as well as the entire group in general.

Properties of Populations: 

      Size:  The number of individuals.

      Density:  The number of individuals per unit area or volume. 

      Dispersion:  The distribution of individuals described by clumping, even dispersion, or random.


Population Growth:  DP = births – deaths (+immigrants – emigrants)


How Fast can a Population Grow?: 

Reproductive Potential:  The number of offspring possible from the number of females in the population being studied.  Larger animals generally have lower reproductive potential.

        Factors:  Number of offspring per birth event, number of birth events per year, beginning reproduction earlier in life.

        Of these factors, the last has the greatest impact to alter reproductive potential because it shortens the length of a generation.  

Exponential Growth:  When nothing in the environment is present to limit the survival of a population, it can experience exponential growth.  The number of members in each generation are a multiple of the numbers in the preceding generation.  So, two animals lead to four which leads to eight which leads to 16 and so forth.  This is a very very powerful growth curve.

Growth Example:  Suppose you are a specially talented individual (aren’t we all…) and two big companies would like to hire you for a special 30 day long project.  The first company offers to pay you $5,000 for the first day, and then increase your daily pay by $5,000 for each successive day.  So you would get $5k, $10k, $15k, etc for each of the thirty days.  The second company offers to pay you a single penny for the first day but then pay you twice as much for each successive day.  So you would get $0.01, $0.02, $0.04, etc. for each of the thirty days.  With which company would you make the most money?


Limits to Growth:  Organisms consume various resources, they are subject to predation, and they can have diseases.  Each can be a growth limiting factor.  In addition, territoriality may limit density and a particular ecosystem may then be limited based upon its area.

Carrying Capacity:  The largest population that can be supported within a particular ecosystem.  If the population increases beyond this number, they consume resources at a faster rate than they can be replaced.  Soon, there isn’t enough to keep the entire population alive and it shrinks through deaths or emigration until it drops below the carrying capacity.  After a while, the population begins to grow again. 

Population Crash:  An exponentially growing population may consume the resources so fast that the ecosystem becomes depleted and the carrying capacity can drop precipitously.  Note the box on page 200 illustrating this in a situation where 25 reindeer were introduced to an isolated island, they quickly ate all of the available food and grew to a herd of 2000.  When the food had gone, the population crashed to just eight individuals.  

Limiting Resource:   For a given population, within a particular ecosystem, the population’s growth may be constrained by the availability of a single resource.  This is known as the limiting resource.  In the Reindeer example, the limiting resource was the slow-growing lichen that grew on the islands.  While there was a large quantity of it on the island at the outset, it quickly became depleted.  Its slow growing nature limited the food available to the reindeer.

Competition:  The members of a population compete for the same resources.  In the reindeer example, that led to disastrous consequences.  This competition is also a part of the natural selection / evolution process.  It would be interesting to see what characteristics the eight remaining reindeer possessed that allowed them to survive.

Territoriality & Social Dominance:  Members of a population also compete in this arena.  Together with competition for resources, this forms the basis for natural selection and evolution.

Density Dependent Factors:  Disease may be spread from individual to individual through direct or indirect contact.  The higher the density of individuals in a particular area, the higher the probability of contact with infected individuals.  Hence, more individuals contract and then die from disease.

Density Independent Factors:  Weather and Natural Disaster may also reduce a population without regard to density.  In humans, the europe underwent what has been called the “little ice age” between 1315 and 1322.  During this time, winters became bitterly cold and summers were rainy and wet.  This period followed a prolonged period of ideal weather, a time in which the population of Europe exploded.  When the weather turned, crops failed, animals died, and millions of humans starved.  The average life expectancy in England fell from 35 to 30 (gulp).

Homework:  Read Section 8-2, do 1, 2, 9-12, 19-23, and 26 on page 211.


Check out this link -- this is an article regarding the sustainability of humans on the planet: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7060072.stm



Section 8-2: How Species Interact with Each Other



            8.2.1     Explain the difference between niche and habitat.

            8.2.2     Give examples of parts of a niche.

            8.2.3     Describe the five major types of interactions between species.

            8.2.4     Explain the difference between parasitism and predation.

            8.2.5     Explain how symbiotic relationships may evolve.











Niche:  The unique way in which an organism occupies its ecosystem including all the ways it interacts with the ecosystem.  Niche is sometimes interpreted as the tolerance range of a species to the various factors in its ecosystem.         

Habitat:  The place(s) occupied by the organism during is lifecycle. 

Ways in which Species Interact:



Species A

Species B





Each species negatively affects the other.  Can also happen within a single species.

Predation and parasitism



One species lives off of another species, which is harmed in the process.




Both organisms benefit from an association.



No impact

One species benefits but the association has no impact on the other.


Indirect Competition:  When two species compete for the same resource without directly interacting.  Example: flowering plants competing for pollinators. 

Adaptations to Competition:  Two species may adapt so that each occupies less of the niche than it would in the absence of competition.  This is an adaptation that decreases competition.

Predation:  One animal kills and eats another.  This is not always a stable relationship.  The phrase “feast or famine” seems to apply.  Look at the graph at the top of P 207 showing the relationship between Lynx and Snowshoe Hare populations.  Predator <> prey relationships are powerful selectors for evolution.  The relationship leads to a series of defenses against predation as well as more efficient predators.


Defense Class



Camouflage coloration.

Nocturnal Behavior


Direct Defense to Attack

Bright warning coloration

Spines, poison skin

Chemical Weapons – smell, irritations

Stings, swelling up

Bad Taste

Direct Escape

Flying, leaping, running

Burrowing, climbing, swimming, diving

Feint Escape

Squirting ink, losing a tail


Living with protectors


Losing arm or body part to protect whole (starfish, lizards, cephalopods)


Parasitism:  Well known examples of fleas, ticks, worms, etc.  By allowing the host to survive, they survive longer.  Some are very small – dust mites can live in the throats of bees.

Mutualism:  From bacteria breaking down food in your body to ants protecting trees. 

Commensalism:  Remoras on sharks.  Barnacles on whales.  The remora is specially adapted to hitch a ride on the skin of sharks and shares in the little scraps of the sharks meal.  The shark is neither benefited nor harmed by the association.

Symbiosis and Coevolution:  Symbiosis is a condition in which two species share a close relationship.  As natural selection leads one species to evolve and adapt to its environment, the other species may adapt as well.  In that way, they evolve together – coevolve.  Example:  Flowers evolve to adapt to the pollinators that help them.  Sometimes the shape of the flow evolves so that the pollinator must stick its beak well into the flower to get the nectar and thereby increases the chance that the flower’s pollen will be spread.


Homework:  We have finished Ch 8 - very short.  There will be a test on Monday - no notes.  Read Ch 9-1 for Monday. 




December 5, 2007

Section 9-1: Studying Human Populations



            9.1.1     Describe how the size and growth rate of the human population has changed in the last 200 years.

            9.1.2     Define four properties that scientists use to predict population sizes.

            9.1.3     Make predictions about population trends based on age structure.

            9.1.4     Describe the four stages of the demographic transition.

            9.1.5     Explain why different countries may be at different stages of the demographic transition.




            Age structure


            Fertility rate


            Life expectancy

            Demographic transition


Demography:  The study of populations – especially human populations


The Human Population Over Time:  Long slow growth over millennia until the Industrial Revolution.  Then, exponential growth.


How much growth are we talking about here?  In the five days since our last class, the world’s population has grown by over one million people. 


WikiExcerpt:  Predictions based on our growing population

In 1798, Thomas Malthus incorrectly predicted that population growth would eventually outrun food supply in the middle of the 19th century, resulting in catastrophe. In 1968, Paul R. Ehrlich reignited this argument with his book The Population Bomb, which helped give the issue significant attention throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The dire predictions of Ehrlich and other neo-Malthusians were vigorously challenged by a number of economists, notably Julian Simon.

On the opposite end of the spectrum there are a number of people who argue that today's low fertility rates in Europe, North America and Australia, combined with mass immigration, will have severe negative consequences for these countries.[18]

Child poverty has been linked to people having children before they have the means to care for them.[19] More recently, some scholars have put forward the Doomsday argument applying Bayesian probability to world population to argue that the end of humanity will come sooner than we usually think.[20]

It should be noted that between 1950 and 1984, as the Green Revolution transformed agriculture around the globe, world grain production increased by 250%. The energy for the Green Revolution was provided by fossil fuels in the form of fertilizers (natural gas), pesticides (oil), and hydrocarbon fueled irrigation.[21] The peaking of world hydrocarbon production (Peak oil) may test Malthus and Ehrlich critics.[22]

The world population has grown by about four billion since the beginning of the Green Revolution and most believe that, without the Revolution, there would be greater famine and malnutrition than the UN presently documents (approximately 850 million people suffering from chronic malnutrition in 2005).[23]




Forecasting Population Size

Age Structure:  What percentage of the population falls into specific age ranges by M/F


Survivorship:  Percentage of a group surviving to a given age.  In 1312, life expectancy was 35.


Fertility Rates:  Number of babies born per 1000 women each year. 


Total Fertility Rate:  Number of live births per woman over her lifetime.


Migration:  Moving into or out of a country.  Doesn’t change global population, only its distribution.



Declining Death Rates à Increasing Life Expectancy


            Life Expectancy:  The average years a population lives.  Influenced heavily by infant mortality.


            Medical Technology & simple health education has reduced infant mortality and life expectancy has risen.


P222:  “New threats to life expectancy arise as populations become denser.” 



The Demographic Transition:  The point in the development of a country where economic and social progress affects population growth rates.


Stage 1: preindustrial, high birth and death rates


Stage 2: Population explosion due to increasing health awareness and life expectancy


Stage 3: Birth rate slows, population growth slows and becomes stable.


Stage 4: Birth rate drops below replacement, population begins to decrease.


Homework:  Read the rest of 9-1 and 9-2. 


Check out this link -- this is an article regarding the sustainability of humans on the planet: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7060072.stm





Ch 10-2: Biodiversity at Risk



            Define and give examples of endangered and threatened species

            Describe several ways that species are being threatened with extinction globally

            Explain which types of threats are having the largest impact on biodiversity.

            List areas of the world that have high level of biodiversity and the many threats to species

            Compare the amount of biodiversity in the US to that of the rest of the world.



            Endangered species

            Threatened species

            Exotic Species


            Endemic species


Extra    Extirpation – removing a type of organism from an area

            Extermination – driving out or destroying a type of organism




Endangered Species Act:  Federal law enacted in 1973 to begin protecting species found to be endangered – threatened with extinction. 


Administered by US Fish & Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Admin.


Protects animals and plants (fungi weren’t listed because they were considered to be plants in 1973).

Species which increased in population size since being placed on the endangered list include:

Note: The Bald Eagle was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species on June 28th, 2007. While the removal decision and paperwork were initiated on the 28th of June, the 'actual' removal took effect approximately one month from that date. Further protection by law is expected, most likely against killing or disturbing nests.

The Grizzly bear (Yellowstone, "Northern Grizzly") was removed March 22nd, 2007.

International:  World Conservation Union (IUCN) has calculated the percentage of endangered species as 40 percent of all organisms based on the sample of species that have been evaluated through 2006IUCN categories include:





Chapter 11: Water


Section 1: Water Resources



1. Describe the distribution of Earth’s Water resources.

2. Explain why fresh water is one of the Earth’s limited resources.

3. Describe the distribution of Earth’s surface water.

4. Describe the relationship between groundwater and surface water in a watershed.


The Water Cycle:

            1. Present in a reservoir (ocean, lake, forest)

            2. Sun evaporates water into the atmosphere.

            3. As atmosphere cools, it can’t hold as much water so it condenses into clouds and rain.

            4. Water precipitates as rain or snow and falls to the ground.

            5. Streams and rivers carry it downward toward the ocean once again.

            6. Water often percolates downward through permeable sediments to join aquifers.


Global Distribution:

            97% is salt water in the oceans

            3% is fresh water


            Of the fresh water…

            77% is frozen in glaciers and ice caps

            22% is groundwater in aquifers

            1%   is surface water in lakes and rivers



            Found in permeable sediments (sediments composed of particles of sand/gravel with space between the grains that can be filled with water).


See the Block on the Ogallala Aquifer on Page 272


Our local water – if not from the lake, rivers, or streams, may come from the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.  This is a deposit of sedimentary materials laid down during the Pleistocene flooding episodes of glacial lake Missoula.  Some of the sediments left behind are 600 ft thick.

The US Geological Survey studies ground water issues and their website has a raft of information relating to Idaho and the SV/RP aquifer.




Here is a link to a map of the SV/RP aquifer showing water table heights in numerous wells.



Or, look at the whole enchilada at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2007/5044/pdf/sir20075044.pdf

This is a report analyzing the various characteristics of the SVRP.


Porosity and permeability:  Being porous means to have holes in the structure.  But the holes may be closed bubbles of air or other gas that are unconnected to either other holes or to the surface.  “Permeable” refers to the ability of a substance to allow a fluid or some other material to flow through it.  Volcanic rock may be porous (it has holes of gas in it) but it may also be impermeable.  A bucket of gravel has spaces between the rocks and water can flow through it with ease.  Clay, on the other hand, is also made up of particles, but the spaces between them are so small that water cannot pass through.