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Species-Habitat Interactions


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.

*This assignment was created by Dr. Kelsey Robson at Idaho State University. Please contact Dr. Robson at for the answers to the assignment questions and the completed data sets.

ESA Learning Goal:

How do species interact with their habitat?


  1. Answer questions about the Smith et al. (2000) reading.

  2. Complete data tables and answer questions on the results of the respiration experiment.

  3. Complete a detailed diagram of the East River Valley elevation gradient, summarizing differences in environmental factors and biota across the three sampling sites.

  4. Answer questions based on the completed sampling sites diagram.


  1. Read sections of Smith et al. (2000).

  2. Carry out a respiration experiment with burying beetles at different temperatures.

  3. Review the videos "Google Earth tour" and "The Story Behind the Data"

  4. Read a section of Smith and Merrick (2001)

  5. Analyze climate data in Excel.

  6. Summarize beetle census and rodent census data using the Tableau software. 


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