Remote Learning

If you haven't had the opportunity to experience OWL's Gateway campus yet, or if you're looking for way to continue the learning you began during your visit to OWL, Remote Learning Lessons are a great way to bring OWL to you, wherever you are! They can be done from home, at school, or anywhere in your community. Find your lesson below to get started!

Plant Adaptations- Can Plants Live Anywhere?

Tips for this Online Lesson:


 
 
 
 
 
 
Background

To start, make a prediction: Can plants live anywhere?

 

What's your evidence?

Next, let's gather background information by watching 2 short videos listed below. The first is a short clip from National Geographic about desert ecosystems. The second is from Crash Course Kids that discusses how we study and investigate plants - which we’ll be doing in this lesson!

 
 
Part I- Introduction

 

 

 

 

 

Next, watch this quick video about plant defenses from TEDEd. 

 
Part II- Vocabulary

 

 

 

 

Definitions:

Morphospecies Identification: when you analyze a species based solely on morphological, easily observable differences (from related species).

Morphological: relating to the form or structure of things OR relating to the branch of biology that deals with the form of living organisms, and with relationships between their structures or characteristics.

Part III- How to Make Your Own Quadrant and Lab Directions

To make your own quadrant you will need:

  1. Cardboard

  2. Scissors

  3. Marker/Sharpie

  4. Ruler

Directions for Lab:

Determine what size you want your quadrant to be. In this video, we made a 12 in. x 12 in. quadrant. On your cardboard, measure a 1 in. border. From the edge of the 1 in. border, measure a 12 x 12 in. square, following along the initial border you created. Next, poke a hole in the middle of your quadrant and cut out the middle, until you have an open square with a 1 in. border. 

Utilizing our new quadrant, we’re going to apply morphospecies identification in this lab!

  1. In your backyard or a park, place, or throw the quadrant where it is safe to do. 

  2. Next, count the number of different organisms in that quadrant. If there are numerous of the same species, just count it as “1” organism. Write that number down in your field guide.

  3. Now, if there are numerous quantities of what looks like the same species, count how many there are and write that down in your field guide.

  4. In the same quadrant. Pick one species to analyze. Utilizing morphospecies identification, analyze and record one species, including the color, height, smell, texture, and any other important characteristics, and record in your field guide.

  5. Repeat steps 1-4 two more times! 

Part IV- Analyzing our Data and Desert Adaptations

 
Definitions

Adaptations: a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.

In summary...
Thick Stems: thick stems have the ability to absorb and store water when it rains - maximizing the plant’s ability to conserve water when water is presented.

Waxy Coating: a shiny, waxy coating helps plants regulate temperature.

Spikes: spikes provide protection from both predation and weather elements, like wind. Spikes are also highly modified leaves, where they help decrease moisture loss.

Wide, shallow roots: wide roots can collect water quickly across a broad spectrum before it enters deeper into the soil.

 

In almost every desert plant or tree, you’ll find one or even a combination of these adaptation patterns that have ensured that these species can survive and thrive in this dry and hot ecosystem! 

Part V- Conclusion

Looking back at your prediction, can plants live anywhere? What's your evidence?

 

 

 

 

 

Today, we learned the definitions of morphospecies identification and adaptation. We created a quadrant, explored outside, identified and analyzed plants, to determine patterns of desert adaptations! Now next time you're out hiking, you can impress your companions by identify plants and their adaptations!

Finally, please upload your field guide and any photos you took of your lab experience onto the Plant Discussion Board!

Desert 101 - What type of desert is Western Colorado?

Crash Course - How do we study plants?

Predict - What are some examples of external defenses in desert ecosystems?

1. Feel free to pause or rewatch any of the videos.

2. Make sure you’re following the questions on the field guide as you watch the videos.

3. Have questions about the lesson? Post them on the Plant Discussion Board and the OWL Team will respond ASAP!

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In this lesson, you will learn the definitions of morphospecies identification, morphological, and adaptation. You will also create your own scientific tool, the quadrant, and use it to analyze various plant species found in your own backyard or around your community. Make sure to download your field guide as well! 

Field Guide