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Temperature and precipitation as limiting factors in ecosystems

GLOBE Project

This classroom activity is aimed at an understanding of different ecosystems by understanding the influence of temperature and precipitation. Students correlate graphs of vegetation vigor with those of temperature and precipitation data for four diverse ecosystems, ranging from near-equatorial to polar, and spanning both hemispheres to determine which climatic factor is limiting growth.

Activity takes two 45-minute class periods.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Grade Level

Activity is appropriate for middle school and lower high school students.

Climate Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Climate Literacy.

Click a topic below for supporting information, teaching ideas, and sample activities.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations
Other materials addressing:
G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:A) Organisms, populations, and communities
Other materials addressing:
A) Organisms, populations, and communities.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Activity could be enhanced if educator indicates that seasonal patterns may be changing somewhat and builds some connections towards an understanding of global climate change.
  • The recognition that temperature can be an indicator of either energy that plants can use to capture carbon or energy plants cannot use could be included when teaching the activity.

About the Content

  • Demonstrates the strong - but variable - relationship between temperature, precipitation and plant growth.
  • This is an evergreen activity in which the foundational concept is supported by the data included in the resource.
  • Excellent opportunity for students to analyze data and use techniques scientists use to understand climate.

About the Pedagogy

  • Very clear directions and great visuals.
  • Several strategies work to increase student engagement; excellent visualizations, graph analysis, grouping and discussion teaching strategies will enhance learning for a broad range of learners.
  • Students need to actively work toward finding the answer, so this activity promotes depth of understanding.
  • The educator will need to provide context in order for students to understand the relevance.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Easy to use, all necessary materials are provided.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Entered the Collection: February 2012 Last Reviewed: October 2016

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