Scientist-Educator Collaborative Workshop
What is the Human Impact of Increased CO2 on Ocean Diversity?
Held at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, ME
Friday, November 22, 2008 through Saturday, November 23, 2008
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Original concept map created by Collin Roesler
Digital concept map created in the COSEE Concept Map Builder
Consensus concept map created using the COSEE-OS Concept Map Builder
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Presentation Videos & Maps

About this Workshop:
For this workshop, 14 educators from the New England area were matched with ocean and climate scientists from the University of Maine to improve their collective understanding of how the ocean can impact climate change. [more]

About this Scientist:
Collin Roesler studies phytoplankton population dynamics in both marine and freshwater environments, over scales ranging from cellular to global levels sensed by ocean color satellites. [more]
Click Images to Learn More About the Educators
Who Worked on this Concept Map
Kaitlin Fielder
Sharon Gallant
Gineen Rhodes
Collin Roesler
Scientist Collin Roesler explains the concept map and its development:

On my original "For Educators" map I put the broad topics in boxes in the left-hand side of the map. The map is also color coded: planetary concepts are yellow, physical constraints are orange, etc. Moving down from upper left, you see that changes in environmental gradients -- because of climate change, for example -- will affect the environmental complexity of niches. This, in turn, will determine which organisms survive in the environment/niche. Some organisms have very specific temperature range tolerances. If they live in an area with a high temperature gradient (i.e., where temperature changes a lot over a relatively small area), then movement of the organism -- or the gradient itself -- may be helpful or harmful. The balance between the rate of environmental change and organisms' rate of adaptation determines the degree of biodiversity in an area.

Focusing on the middle of the map, you see that sunlight travels through our atmosphere, bringing light to Earth's surface and raising its temperature. The sun and atmosphere also control the water cycle. Precipitation can bring nutrients and salts from the land to the ocean. Precipitation over the ocean can also affect the saltiness -- or salinity -- of our seas. Both temperature and salinity are considered to be "state variables": variables that describe the "state" of a dynamic system such as the ocean. In the ocean, a third important "state variable" is pressure. Temperature, salinity and pressure -- color coded as purple -- together control the density of ocean water. Density-driven circulation in the ocean is called "thermohaline" circulation. Ocean circulation is also linked to earth's atmosphere because sea surface currents are also driven by winds. Wind-driven ocean currents are key to moving nutrients to the sunlit ocean surface, providing a source of energy for ocean primary production. Nutrients also provide "building blocks" for organisms higher up the food chain.

The bottom right half of the "For Educators" map focuses on growth rates within the marine food web. The maximum (i.e., "gross") growth rate is decreased by the biomass loss rate: together these result in a net growth rate. The physical and environmental conditions determine which organisms survive and where they flourish and grow: in other words, the biodiversity of an area. In general, the more complex an environment, the more biodiversity. Less complex environments have lower biodiversity. We don't know how climate change will affect future environmental complexity. But we do know that if the environment changes faster than organisms can adapt, biodiversity will decrease. Also some types of organisms -- such as bacteria -- can adapt relatively quickly. Other types of organisms -- polar bears, for example -- are not as able to adapt to rapid environmental change.

As a team, the educators and I created our consensus map. We focused on how human activity is increasing carbon dioxide and temperature, both of which affect ocean acidity and some organisms' growth rates. Even with this seemingly "simple" process, we were able to include many environmental factors such as wind, precipitation, glacial melting, sea level, salinity, density, circulation, and nutrients. I really learned a lot from the educators about communicating with pre-college students. I even plan to use their "pointers" -- and our consensus concept map -- in my undergraduate teaching.
View All Concept Maps Created at this Workshop
Concept map