is the focus of this module?
Florida Everglades module is an inquiry project that uses Internet
technology to explore the dilemma of wetlands management. The module
is based upon the continued debate over the restoration of
the natural cycle of water to the Florida Everglades. During
the latter part of the twentieth century, Congress sanctioned the
restoration of the natural cycle of water through the Florida Everglades.
The Everglades Wildlife Refuge is worried about how the restoration
of the natural flow of water through the Everglades will impact
the endangered Florida Panthers that live there. The Everglades
Wildlife Refuge has challenged your students to perform an ESS analysis
of the restoration of water level and flow to the Everglades ecosystem.
Your students will predict the future survival of the Florida Panther.
are the student's procedures for this module?
By following the steps outlined
in the Protocol below, the students should generate the information
necessary to make predictions about the future of the Florida Panther.
you will do an Earth system science analysis. Then you will make
predictions based on the results of your ESS analysis concerning
the future of the Florida Panther. Following the steps below will
help you accomplish your task for the Everglades Wildlife Refuge.
1 List what is known.
Step 2 List what is needed.
Step 3 Gather information to complete an
Earth system science (ESS) analysis.
Step 4 Present your findings.
Sample of ESS Protocol has been created for this module. The
sample includes an ESS analysis of the restoration of water level
and flow to the Everglades ecosystem. It also includes predictions,
based on the results of the ESS analysis, concerning the future
of the Florida Panther. This comprehensive sample contains a broad
spectrum of potential impacts of the event on Earth's spheres and
the subsequent feedback and potential interactions that might result.
Most students will not present this much information. In addition,
although it is comprehensive, it is not necessarily complete. The
students may provide an ESS analysis with explanations of their
predictions regarding the future of the Florida that are not listed
in the sample.
are the teacher's procedures for conducting this module?
The "Florida Everglades" Module is based upon Earth system science
(ESS) thinking and Problem Based-Learning (PBL) pedagogy. The students
are asked to examine the potential impacts of restoration of
water flow to the Florida Everglades on the Earth's spheres
and the subsequent feedback and potential interactions that might
result. Rather than formulating "right" or "wrong" answers, the
learners should be able to provide an ESS analysis that explains
their predictions regarding the future of the Florida Panther.
Your students can use
this module independently (independent research) or collaboratively
as a community of learners. You can find information about how to
organize "jigsaw" cooperative group learning
with this module.
What science content
and issues will students encounter as they work through the module?
As students examine the spheres that comprise the Earth's system,
they should be able to understand the effects of natural events
and human activities on wetlands. The main content issues students
- Human actions and
natural changes affect the balance within the Everglades ecosystem.
- There are positive
and negative impacts associated with passing environmental laws
- Changes in the Everglades
affect the Florida Panther.
Students may also encounter
a variety of related science content issues you may wish to reinforce
depending upon the content you are teaching:
- basic needs of plants
and animals and how these needs are met
- energy flow in a food
chain through an energy pyramid
- the common types of
wetlands plants and animals
- the different functions
of a wetland
- adaptations of plants
and animals to their environment
- cycles within an ecosystem
-- the water cycle, the rock cycle, or the carbon dioxide/oxygen
cycle (photosynthesis) as well as the reproductive cycle of the
- effects of limiting
factors on an organism and carrying capacity of an ecosystem
- niches for producers,
consumers, and decomposers within the Everglades
is remote sensing used in this module?
Maps and remote sensing images can provide significant amounts of
information in a compact form about the situation in south Florida
and the panthers' environment.
The three land-use maps, while not remote sensing images, illustrate
how the environment has changed in and around the Everglades in
the last century. The land-use base image is a recent map showing
major cities, roads, county, and park boundaries in south Florida.
The 1900 map shows that the Everglades were originally a swath of
sawgrass and "wet prairie" curving south and then southeast from
Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico. The ecology of the entire
area depended upon the flow of water that came out of the south
end of the lake and flowed through the area as a broad, shallow
river. The soil to the south of Lake Okeechobee was very rich. As
people moved into the area, they drained the land for farms and
sugarcane plantations. Similarly, cities grew along the beautiful
sandy beaches and pinelands of the eastern coast. The growth of
the farms and the cities appear vividly in the 1953 and 1973 maps
in reds and purples, respectively. Switching quickly between the
maps in sequence provides an almost movie-like effect that shows
the changes in land use.
The land-use maps do
not show the diversion of water away from the Everglades and into
agricultural and municipal water systems, or out into the Atlantic.
Nor do they illustrate how the panthers deal with the restricted
environment. The panther habitat maps and satellite images show
these aspects of the situation.
Habitat The base map for the Florida Panther's habitat overlays
a false-color Landsat mosaic. In this rendition, vegetation appears
in natural greens; cities are pink; agricultural fields are red;
and water is black. Most of the Everglades appear black because
of the shallow sheet of water that covers the area. Both cities
and farms extend up to the edge and, in some cases, into the Everglades
along most of its circumference. Some forest still borders the area,
but much of the green to the northwest of the park is pastureland
as may be seen by overlaying the 1973 Land Use map.
The Roads overlay option
adds roads (brown), park boundaries (green and yellow), and canals
(blue) to the satellite image. Note how the roads and canals cut
the Everglades into many small pieces. The roads and canals act
as barriers to water flow, and divide up the panther habitat.
The Range overlay option
shows locations of radio-collared panthers over a period of several
years and provides an overview of how the panthers use what is left
of their habitat. Comparison with the Land Use overlay shows that
the panthers tend to stay in densely forested areas. However, the
close proximity of the panther range to farms and cities shows that
some farmers and city dwellers should not be surprised to occasionally
find a panther in their backyard. Comparison of the panther range
with the Roads overlay shows that some major roads act as barriers
to panther movement. Although the panthers do not like moving through
water, the range map shows some movement into and across some of
the flooded sections of the Everglades. The red square at lower
left is 250 square miles in area - the approximate range of a single
male Florida panther. Given that there are about 50 panthers left,
of which perhaps one third are adult males, comparison of a single
panther's range with the remaining panther range on the map shows
just how crowded the panthers are and suggests how stiff the competition
for food must be. It also indicates how continued development of
the forest and swamps of the area would easily squeeze the panthers