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Article:

The Trees Have Gone Batty! How Bat Scat Helped Restore a Tropical Forest


This article is from Issue Tropical - Vol. 3 No. 1.

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The scientists in this study were interested in knowing whether humans and other animals can help disturbed areas of land to become healthy ecosystems again. A mining company in Brazil asked the scientists to restore a tropical forest on their old mining site. The original tropical forest had been cut down to mine the area for  bauxite or aluminum ore. The scientists wanted to know whether they could set up the conditions so that plants and animals could come in from outside the mined area without further human help. Then, the new plants and animals might help the land to become healthy again.

Welcome to the Tropical edition

Note to Educators

Education Standards Correlations

 

Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Earth Science
  • Life Science
  • People and Science

"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
  • Forest and Grassland Use (Educators)
  • Protecting Trees and Other Plants (Students)
  • The Value of Forests and Grasslands (Educators)
  • Vegetation Management (Educators)
  • Vegetation Protection (Fire, Insects, Endangered Species) (Educators)
  • Wildlife and Endangered Species (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Southern

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
When scientists want to learn what is happening to a particular piece of land, they usually go out to that place to study what is happening. Because they usually cannot study every inch of a large piece of land, scientists select small areas, or samples of land, to study. They assume that the samples represent the rest of the land in which they are interested. This same idea is used in most scientific studies. For example, when scientists want to know what the public thinks about something, they cannot ask everyone. They ask a sample of people that the scientists believe can represent everyone. When was the last time you used a sample? When you eat a potato chip from a bag, do you think the rest of the chips in the bag will taste like the first one? Is the first potato chip a sample? Why or why not?
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • The Scientific Process

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
Humans use land for many things. Sometimes, they want to use land temporarily. In this case, they disturb the land, then they let it grow naturally again. An example of this is when humans mine the land for minerals and other natural resources. Can you think of other examples of using natural resources that cause a temporary disturbance to the land? Sometimes when the land is disturbed, it cannot restore itself back to its original condition without help from humans and other animals. In this study, the scientists wanted to know whether humans and other animals were helping a tropical forest to restore itself after it had been disturbed by a mining operation.
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Human impact on natural resources and other living things

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms (C)
  • Populations and ecosystems (C)
  • Reproduction and heredity (C)
  • Structure of the earth system (D)
  • Transfer of energy (B)

Science Benchmarks covered in this article:
  • Habits of Mind: Critical-Response Skills
  • Historic Perspectives: Explaining the Diversity of Life
  • The Living Environment: Diversity of Life
  • The Living Environment: Heredity
  • The Living Environment: Interdependence of Life
  • The Nature of Science: Scientific Inquiry
  • The Nature of Science: The Scientific Enterprise
  • The Physical Setting: Processes that Shape the Earth
  • The Physical Setting: The Earth