Bioaccumulation

Investigation III: Bioaccumulation and Biomagnification

Purpose
The purpose of this activity is to get students ready to learn about the dynamics of food chains and webs, bioaccumulation vs. biomagnification of a toxin within a food web, and how the introduction of an invasive species can affect all of the above.
Overview
This introductory activity will help the students to see relevance in the unit through a connection with a major current event. They will first be asked to consider the driving question of the activity by brainstorming how eating fish could be considered dangerous to humans through the use of a K‐W‐L chart. Students will then be asked to read a news article regarding the Gulf oil spill and how it is projected to impact marine food webs within that region. Students will be asked to complete reading comprehension questions at the end of the article.

Purpose

The purpose of this activity is to familiarize students with:

  • bioaccumulation and biomagnification
  • persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and the dangers they pose to human health
  • how humans can be exposed to POPs and to recognize those pathways in a lake ecosystem
  • develop a working definition of one particular POP: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

 

Overview

This investigation explores the concepts of bioaccumulation and biomagnification and the effects of POPs present in an aquatic ecosystem.  In Part 1, students will take a self-graded, pre-activity test that will help teachers to determine students' prior knowledge of these topics.  Part 2 is a reading from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Persistent Organic Pollutants: A Global Issue, A Global Response." The graphic organizer "What is POP (don't you mean soda)?" may be used to help students organize what they learn from this document.  In Part 3, students will work in groups to brainstorm ways that they might be exposed to toxins in their environment and then they will determine which of these pathways could also apply to aquatic organisms.  In Part 4, students will read two factsheets published by the U.S. EPA and answer questions about polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and their health effects. This investigation concludes with two modeling activities.  Part 5 is a hands-on activity that will introduce students to the concept of bioaccumulation and biomagnification.  In Part 6, students will use the NetLogo Aquatic Bioaccumulation model to further explore these concepts in a simulated environment.  Students will collect model data and analyze it in table and graph format to answer activity questions.

  

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Investigation III: Bioaccumulation and Biomagnification

This is the teacher overview, answer key, and student guide for this Investigation within the EcoCasting unit. Note: The documents are formatted for double-sided printing; if you print them single-sided there will be extra blank pages.