The Case of the Missing Anurans


Anurans are a subgroup of amphibians that includes frogs and toads - tail-less amphibians. Scientists have observed that populations of many species of anurans all around the world have been on the decline in recent years. Many anuran species have gone extinct, and many are endangered.
In this project, you will become a herpetologist - a scientist who studies amphibians - and try to figure out what is causing population decline in anurans. You will come up with a hypothesis about what is causing the populations to decline, and a research proposal for an experiment that would help prove or disprove your hypothesis. Then you will present your research proposal to the other herpetologists in your class at a scientific meeting called a summit. You will try to "sell" your project to the other herpetologists.

Research the problem:

You and the other members of your research team will be given eight clue sheets that discuss possible reasons for the declining populations of anurans. Read the clue sheets and take notes. Then do additional research on the internet to find out more about the dangers facing anurans today (focus your research on one or two of the issues discussed in the clue sheets). Your homework assignments will provide additional information. Finally, discuss what you've learned as a team.

Form a theory:

Decide as a team what you think is causing anuran populations to decline. You might think there is more than one cause; in that case, decide which you think is most important or most interesting. Write 1-3 paragraphs explaining what you think is causing populations of anurans to decline.

Design an experiment:

Design an experiment to test your hypothesis. Your experiment could be done in the laboratory, with captive anurans, or in the field, studying anurans in their natural habitat. Your experiment should include the following:

  • question
  • hypothesis - what do you predict will happen in the experiment?
  • variables - independent, dependent, constants/controls
  • materials & procedure
  • what types of measurements & observations you will make
  • an explanation of how this experiment will help you prove or disprove your idea about what is causing anuran population decline

Prepare a proposal:

Type up your research proposal in PowerPoint. Do not write lengthy paragraphs - use bullets to summarize your ideas! You will need the following slides:
title slide, including names of researchers and proposal date

  • 1-2 background slides explaining the problem
  • 1-2 theory slides explaining what you think is causing anuran population declines
  • 1 question & hypothesis slide
  • 1 variables slide
  • 1-2 materials/procedure slides
  • 1-2 slides describing the types of measurements & observations you plan to make
  • 1-2 slides that sum up the whole thing and remind your audience why this experiment will help herpetologists better understand anuran population declines

Practice your presentation:

Divide up the work of presenting your proposal, and practice giving the presentation. Double-check spelling, grammar, appearance of slides, etc.

Present your proposal to other herpetologists at the Mott Hall III Summit on Anurans. This will be held on or around _______. The other herpetologists at the summit will consider your proposal and make a recommendation to me about whether or not to fund your work.

Think hard & do your best, most professional work!

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