Activity for How Tube Worms Survive at Hydrothermal Vents
This activity explores the content presented in the animated video How Tube Worms Survive at Hydrothermal Vents, which tells the story of the symbiotic relationship between the giant tube worm and chemosynthetic bacteria.
In this animated video, Ed Yong and Colleen Cavanaugh describe an unexpected ecosystem at the bottom of the ocean: a rich community of species living in complete darkness and surrounded by hydrothermal vents that spew superheated water and toxic compounds. This community includes the giant tube worm, Riftia pachyptila, an unusual animal that has no mouth or anus. Cavanaugh explains that symbiotic bacteria inside the tube worm use hydrogen sulfide spewed from the vents as an energy source for themselves and for the worms. This case describes a remarkable example of a symbiotic relationship helping to support life in extreme conditions.
The “Student Handout” probes students’ understanding of the key concepts addressed in the film. The “Educator Materials” document provides suggested pause points in the film with questions for students, background information, and detailed discussion points; a list of related resources and references; and an answer key for the “Student Handout.”
Student Learning Targets
- Describe the nature and consequences of the symbiotic relationship between the giant tube worm and chemosynthetic bacteria in hydrothermal vents.
chemosynthesis, energy, marine biology, mutualism, oceanography, sulfur oxidation, symbiosis, trophosome
Ramirez-Llodra, Eva, Timothy M. Shank, and Christopher R. German. “Biodiversity and biogeography of hydrothermal vent species: Thirty years of discovery and investigations.” Oceanography 20, 1 (2007): 30–41. https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2007.78.
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Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS1-5, HS-LS2-3, HS-LS2-4; SEP6
AP Biology (2019)
ENE-1.I, ENE-1.O, ENE-4.B ; SP1
IB Biology (2016)
2.9, 4.1, 4.2
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Topic(s): 1.1, 1.9
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-1.A, ENG-1.B, SP1
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Common Core (2010)
Vision and Change (2009)