Data analysis: biology

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Lesson overview

The Catlin Arctic Survey scientists wanted to see what impact increased ocean acidification might have on a type of zooplankton, copepods. To do this, they trawled for copepods through a hole in the ice and placed them in experimental batches. These experimental batches were exposed to different levels of pH simulating both current and predicted scenarios. After seven days, the batches were examined to see how many of the copepods had survived in each scenario and analyse the impact that future acidification might have on zooplankton, the foundation of the Arctic food web.

Learning outcomes

  • Present data using appropriate methods and carry out and represent mathematical analysis
  • Interpret data, including identifying patterns and trends and use data to make inferences and draw conclusions
  • Evaluate data critically, showing awareness of potential sources of random variations and systemic errors

Lesson steps

  1. Why study copepods? (10 mins)
    Copepods are an integral part of the Arctic ecosystem. As primary consumers, they provide the building blocks for larger animals such as whales, seals and polar bears. Use the factsheet Copepods into the future to put the data analysis into context.
  2. Data exercise (35 mins)
    Use the survival data from the Catlin Arctic Survey data and the slideshow ‘Using Excel to make calculations’.
    Option 1 (with access to computers): ask students to answer basic questions, draw and interpret graphs based on the data.
    Option 2 (no access to computers, print out activity sheets): ask students to answer basic questions about data sets and interpret the graphs.
  3. Reflection (5 mins)
    Ask students to discuss future scenarios if the trend continues and do independent research to prepare for the last lesson (conference in the classroom).
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