As a high school or undergraduate Biological Sciences teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to teach about metabolism in living organisms, metabolic rate and factors affecting metabolic rate including the impact of increasing global temperatures due to climate change.
This lesson plan will enable students to understand the role of metabolism in living organisms and the various factors that influence it. Students will be able to understand how climate change could influence the metabolic rate of organisms and affect their physiology and survival. A hands-on lab activity will enable students to assess temperature driven changes in metabolic rate of ectotherms and endotherms.
Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Biological Sciences.
Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:
- What is metabolism?
- What are the factors that influence the metabolic rate of an organism?
- How does the metabolism of organisms respond to climate change?
- Discuss the impact of increasing global temperatures on metabolic rate.
- Climate change could exert negative effects on reproduction in Ectotherms. Explain.
Teacher-contributed lesson plan by Dr. Subhash Rajpurohit, Ahmedabad University, India.
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About Lesson Plan
|Grade Level||High school, Undergraduate|
|Topic(s) in Discipline||Metabolism, Metabolic Rate, Factors affecting Metabolic Rate, Ectotherms, Endotherms
Homeotherms, Heterotherms, Thermoneutral Zone (TNZ)
Lower Critical Temperature (LCT), Upper Critical Temperature (UCT)
|Climate and the Biosphere|
|90 – 120 min|
|A reading that introduces the topic of metabolism and metabolic rate in living organisms and describes the factors influencing it.|
|A reading that describes the impact of increasing global temperatures on the metabolic rates of cold-blooded animals- ectotherms.|
|A short video that shows why climate related melting ice forces polar bears to invest five times more energy in swimming rather than walking and thus, impacts their survival rates.|
|Classroom/ Laboratory Activity
( 60-90 min)
|A classroom/laboratory activity to measure the metabolic rate in living organisms and note changes under diverse temperatures; to gain insight on the possible effect of rising temperatures due to climate change on the metabolic rates of these organisms.|
Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.
Step 1: Introduce the topic with a reading
- Introduce the topic of metabolism and metabolic rate using the reading ‘Metabolic rate’ by Khan Academy.
- Discuss the various factors that influence the metabolic rate in animals.
- Use the text to describe endotherms and ectotherms.
- Explain how endotherms and ectotherms are affected by the ambient temperature of their surroundings
- Use this reading to define basal metabolic rate (BMR) in living organisms and how it affects energy expenditure by them.
Step 2 : Discuss the impact of climate change on metabolic rate
Use the reading, ‘Global metabolic impacts of recent climate change’ by Dillon et al, October 2010, Nature 467(7316):704-6, to explain to your students how tropical ectotherms that constitute a large percentage of Earth’s biodiversity, could be more severely affected by rising temperatures due to climate change.
Step 3: Play a video
- Play the video, ‘When ice melts, polar bear use 5x more energy to swim instead of walk’ by Blaine Griffen, Brigham Young University, to explain the possible influence of climate change- melting ice caps due to rising temperatures- on the metabolic rate of the polar bear leading to higher energy expenditure and resultant body weight loss.
- Use this video to explain how this effect on metabolism lowers the reproductive rates and affects the survival of the species.
Step 4: Conduct a classroom/laboratory activity
- Use this laboratory activity, ‘Animal Metabolism’ by Saddleback College, California, to enable students to test the effect of varying temperatures on the metabolic rates of an endotherm (mouse/rat) and an ectotherm (goldfish).
- Firstly, use the information given in the worksheets to explain to the students the thermoneutral zone (TNZ), lower critical temperature (LCT) and upper critical temperature (UCT) for all organisms.
- Explain why it differs for different types of organisms.
- Use the worksheet instructions to explain the different ways in which the metabolic rates for these organisms is determined and to set up the experiments.
- Instruct the students to make graphs of the results and to compare the changes in metabolic rates of the organisms in response to changing temperature.
- Discuss the results of these experiments in the context of global temperature rise due to climate change.