As part of the Volcano World site, this learning object provides descriptions of plant and animal populations around the area of Mount Saint Helens before and after volcanic eruption. The Mount St. Helens? eruption presented biologists with an opportunity watch succession in action. There were research sites established before the eruption that provide quality data for comparison to the immediate after-effects and long-term change. The information is presented by the Volcano World Team and provided by the University of North Dakota. Navigation through the material provides a great tour of changes that occurred in biodiversity before, during, and after eruption. There is a clear description of the diversity of life in the area. The impact of each of the volcanic events is described and illustrated with a discussion of immediate survival. Pictures and descriptions are provided of plants and animals that were observed prior to the event as well as after certain stages such as ashfall, blowdown, debris avalanche, pyroclastic flow, and mud flow. Additional information is provided about species diversity and ecosystems after the eruption along with a good section on disturbance ecology and the impact of humans on succession.
Students will learn about species diversity before, during, and after volcanic eruption.
Target Student Population:
The general public, high school, and college students can all learn from the information presented.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Use of web browser will be required. Some basic background knowledge about ecology will provide a better appreciation of the material.
Type of Material:
Most of the material is formatted as a data collection of pictures showing species diversity. The information can be used as a tutorial.
This is an excellent example to show succession after volcanic eruption in the classroom or as an individual assignment. Depending on the level of class,
the site could serve as a basic, simplified introduction or a more comprehensive treatment for high school and freshman college level biology.
No technical requirements other than the ability to view HTML on the Internet. Some of the links may require use of QuickTime or other suitable video player.
Evaluation and Observation
Photo essay approach to pre eruption biota gives a good overview of the area
There are before and after images of each study site for comparison
The vocabulary and approach are appropriate for introductory level students
Integrates biological and physical/geologic processes and concepts
The overall approach will engage visitors' interest
Contains a short section on human disturbances to ecosystems for comparison
Good quality images that can be viewed as a group or individually
In some cases, there aren?t many examples / images of species present at individual states, although it is understood specimens were either not present or hard to find after eruption
More detailed data on research is needed for higher level courses?either on site or links
It would help to have a little more text describing the species present (along with scientific names) and how they were distributed after each stage of succession
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Site is sufficiently clear and on an appropriate level to be used as an illustration of succession after the topic is introduced in class
Alternatively, the site can also serve as the basis of an investigative approach
Survey of species present lends itself to good discussion of how succession progressed
Pictures of plants and animals provide an entertaining approach to the topic
Builds applied knowledge to present day understanding of succession
Organization by topics selected makes it easy to follow
A set of learning objectives would make it easier to evaluate how to integrate site material into course/lesson
It would help to include some discussion of relationships among species that survived different stages of volcanic eruption
Some mention of population size and distribution of species would be help to better understand succession
Having more detailed data available would allow higher level courses to make better use of this site
There ought to be a timeline (in months and/or years) for users who don?t understand the duration of different volcanic events
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Information is well organized and easy to navigate
Organization of the data presented clearly illustrates concepts of succession
Pages relating to effects of eruption on biota during and after eruption use consistent formatting and organization
Pictures load quickly and efficiently
No defective links were found
No major bugs in navigating through site
It might help to have some way to search the site for certain species
A roadmap of the site or more comprehensive navigation bar would help move through the material
May not be detailed enough for all users. It might help to have some way to search the site for certain species
Other Issues and Comments:
This is a great site to show how succession we learn in the classroom occurs in real life. Users will about the stages of volcanic eruption at the same time that they learn about succession. The pictures are an added plus and make learning about succession an exciting adventure. The site will be generally useful up through introductory biology. Above that level, the site will not provide sufficient detail but would serve as a basic review. The site accurately meets the needs of the target audience.