Dead Zones in Coastal Ecosystems
This activity guides the analysis of a published scientific figure from a study on low-oxygen areas in the ocean called dead zones.
Dead zones, also known as hypoxic systems, are often linked to human activity. They are frequently created through eutrophication, an excessive increase in nutrients from fertilizer, sewage, and other forms of water pollution. The figure shows the locations of over 400 dead zones (white dots) on a map of the global human footprint. Areas with a higher human footprint are more impacted by humans.
The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Assess global impacts of human activities on coastal ecosystems.
algal bloom, eutrophication, heat map, human footprint, hypoxia, marine biology, marine ecosystem, oceanography, oxygen, pollution, runoff
Diaz, Robert J., and Rutger Rosenberg. “Spreading Dead Zones and Consequences for Marine Ecosystems.” Science 321, 5891 (2008): 926–929. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1156401.
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Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS2-6, HS-ESS3-6; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
AP Biology (2019)
ENE-1.I, SYI-2.B; SP1, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Topic(s): 5.4, 5.11, 8.1, 8.2, 8.5
Learning Objectives & Practices: EIN-2.N, STB-3.A, STB-3.B, EIN-2.N, SP1, SP2, SP7
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
1.5, 2.5, 4.4
Common Core (2010)
Math.S-ID.3, Math.S-IC.1; MP2, MP5
Vision and Change (2009)
CC5; DP2, DP3