This short research
project allows students to explore concepts related to plant
adaptations, biodiversity and ecosystem stability while
engaging in their own investigations of a local seed bank.
A natural “seed bank” consists of the seeds
or propagules (e.g., root fragments) that lie dormant in
soil until the right conditions trigger their growth. Using
a simple protocol, students will germinate the seeds that
naturally exist in a soil sample and measure the abundance
(total number) and estimate the diversity (number of different
types) of these seeds. Students will establish their own
comparison to better understand how a chosen variable (e.g.,
site, vegetation, soil depth, germination conditions) influences
the number and diversity of viable seeds. A seed bank investigation
provides a natural link between concepts in plant biology,
ecology and the local environment. Ideally the study should
be placed within the context of a local conservation, restoration
or agricultural issue.
was developed by Lynn Vaccaro, a graduate student in Natural
Resources. The curriculum was piloted and refined in Mary
Jo Doyle’s and Laurie Assermily’s 10th grade
biology classes at Mynderse Academy in Seneca Falls, NY.
Guide to the Student Reading (with answers)