EVERY YEAR, IN first semester, my husband teaches a tertiary course called ‘Biological Adaptation to Climate Change’ to third-year science students in Brisbane. Enrolments have roughly tripled in the time he’s been offering the program, and the students learn about things like the components of climate systems, historical climate change, and the evolutionary consequences of climate change. As part of their assessment, they create a website for the general public about one particular species’ known adaptation to a changing climate. They can choose from organisms including the wombat and Antarctic sphagnum moss – although the polar bear, the arctic fox and the wolverine are the most popular by far.
On the whole, they do a nice job with this assignment – their websites are quite elegant and their texts talk easily about redistribution and altered feeding patterns. They mention new inter-species breeding in the case of the polar bears. They flag changes in a species’ vulnerability or endangered status. They tend to choose strong and engaging images – photographs of their particular organism looking proud, looking resilient and hardy (well, not so much the moss).
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