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INTRODUCTION: What are Tortoises? Where do they live? How do tortoises populate their environment? What makes for healthy tortoise habitat? What role do tortoise play in the cycling of matter (carbon, oxygen, nitrogen) and energy in an ecosystem? How would releasing captive raised tortoises back into their native environment impact that ecosystem? These are the kinds of questions that biologist and ecologists ask when attempting to learn more about any organism and how that species fits into the larger scheme of life on earth. As we watch desert tortoises emerge from their eggs and develop in our classroom and learn how we can care for their needs, you will be on a WebQuest. This Digging Around for the Facts WebQuest has been designed to help you understand what it means to be, live, and survive as a "Desert Tortoise" or population of Desert Tortoises in a given ecosystem.
SCIENCE STANDARDS: This WebQuest has been designed to specifically address the High School California Academic Content Standards for Biology/Life Sciences stressing the science and study of Ecology. This standard specifically states that the:
6. Stability in an ecosystem is a balance between competing effects. As a basis for understanding this concept, students know:
TASKS: Stability in an ecosystem is a balance between competing factors. The student's task will be to determine and describe a healthy, stable ecosystem that can support a viable population of "introduced" captive raised tortoises and/or their unhatched eggs. In order to accomplish this task each student will need to:
SITUATION: It is June, the summer after your sophomore year at the University of California in Riverside. Your major is biology. You have just begun a summer internship with the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). Since your home address is in the Mojave Desert, you have been assigned to region 6, the "Inland Deserts" district of the CDFG.
Judy, your supervisor, has been busy all year participating with a statewide team of wild land managers to develop the "West Mojave Coordinated Management Plan". The day you arrive she receives the following request from her supervisor in Sacramento:
Because of her other time commitments, Judy decides to make this task your internship project. Giving you a couple of examples of other "preliminary finding" reports, you and Judy put together a rough outline of information that will be needed in the report:
SECTION 1: Title Page, Abstract and Problem Statement
1. Title Page
3. Problem Statement
SECTION 2: Review of Literature
1. Tortoise Taxonomy: (4 or fewer paragraphs and an illustration)
Before conducting your research for this section of the report, review your notes and read (skim over) chapters __ and __ in your textbook (Biology: The Dynamics of Life, 2002).
2. Tortoise Life Cycle:
3. Healthy Desert Habitat:
Before conducting this next two searches, read section 2.2 Nutrition and Energy Flow in your textbook (Biology: The Dynamics of Life, 2002).
4. Tortoises and Regional Biogeochemical Cycles: How do carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen cycle through tortoises?
5. Energy Flow: (4 or fewer paragraphs with diagram)
SECTION 3: Field Data
1. Current & Historical Information: Abiotic Factors
2. Current & Historical Information: Biotic Factors
3. Natural Reproduction Viability
SECTION 4: Significant Findings & Preliminary Conclusion
1. Compare the findings collected in your review of literature to what you learned about the "terrace" habitat and the surrounding desert and its inhabitants and highlight any important findings specific to the question of "should captive raised tortoises and/or their eggs be released or repatriated back into the Mojave desert." (1 paragraph)
2. Give a preliminary answer to the question, "should captive raised tortoises and/or their eggs be released/ repatriated back into the Mojave Desert?", and support it using findings gathered and stated in the report. (1 paragraph)
AVAILABLE RESOURCES: Besides making books in her field office's library available to you, Judy has provided you with the following list of web resources that she uses when preparing similar reports. She also suggests that you check out resources that are available at local libraries and turtle and tortoises clubs in your community to help you with your task.
Judy's Web Resource List:
Links to Resources that support Mojave Desert Studies
Tortoise Information, Organization supporting research
Tortoise Taxonomy, Tortoise Identification, Distribution
Tortoise "Kind" Gallery
Tortoises of North America
Tortoise and Turtle Enhancement Programs
Tortoise Habitat Gallery
Desert Food Webs & Chains
Tortoise Ecology / Biotic components
Tortoise Ecology / Life Cycle
Mojave Desert Wildlife
Information Data Bases
Mojave River Weather Information
Collecting Data at the "terrace" and in the surrounding desert
EVALUATION: Judy, your CDFG internship supervisor uses a
rubric to evaluate her work before sending it on to Sacramento. She
will be using the same rubric to evaluate your draft. Your summer
internship program grade with the university will depend on her assessment.
The rubric that she will use is as follows:
Copyright © 2008, Matthew Huffine, Lewis Center for Educational Research, Apple Valley, California 92307