Nutrient Pollution (formerly Sewage)
Lab: Nutrient Pollution (formerly Sewage)
What will happen if your city starts dumping lots of extra sewage into your local lake? This laboratory provides students with tools to explore nutrient enrichment, eutrophication, and bioaccumulation of toxins. Using a simulated lake containing phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish, they try varying phosphorus and nitrogen inputs, and record and graph the resulting algal and oxygen levels in the lake. They also sample species at each trophic level to determine what would happen if the sewage were to contain a biomagnifying toxin such as mercury. At the end of the lab they write a "letter-to-the-editor" about their findings and provide recommendations for the city regarding the consequences of sewage in the lake. This lab is used widely in non-majors and introductory biology classes as well as intro environmental science classes.
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Key Concepts: Aquatic Communities; Bioaccumulation of Toxins; Eutrophication; Limiting Nutrients; Phosphorus
Courses: Applied Ecology; Aquatic Ecology; Ecosystems; Environmental Science; Intro Bio: Eco/Evo/Genetics; Intro Bio: Non-majors
"We plan to continue to use EcoBeaker software in our Biology 101 labs next year. Student and TA feedback was very positive on both these labs [Isle Royale and Nutrient Pollution]."
Bruce Fall, University of Minnesota, 1,000 Student Introductory Biology Course
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