Burying Beetle Lesson Plans
Dr. Smith’s burying beetle research has targeted three different sites in the East River Valley: Kettle Ponds, Maxfield Meadow, and Bellview. These sites occur along an altitudinal gradient; as the elevation increases, environmental variables are expected to change in a predictable manner. In this assignment, students will investigate how these changes affect organisms.
Dr. Smith uses ecological census techniques to estimate the size of rodent and beetle populations at her study sites. She sets baited traps, and then captures, marks (hair dye for rodents, pin prick for beetles), and releases organisms. By recording the proportion of marked to unmarked individuals in each sample, Dr. Smith can estimate total population size. In this assignment students will learn more about the mark-recapture method, and how to calculate population estimates using mathematical equations. This new information will help students investigate how populations change over time.
The Sun provides the Earth with an incredible amount of energy. Primary producers convert the light energy into chemical energy, and in this usable form it transfers through entire ecosystems. However, a significant amount of energy is lost at each transfer. In this assignment students will measure the efficiency of energy transfers between rodents and beetles, and investigate how organisms obtain and use matter and energy to live and grow.
This Burying Beetle Module was developed for an undergraduate General Ecology laboratory by Dr. Kelsey Robson. However, there are many other contexts to which it can be applied. Below are a set of resources that will help you, the instructor, decide how to implement the module in your course.