Resource Type
Completion Time
About 1 period
Middle School and Up
Download, Share, and Remix
Access to a computer and the Internet
Climate Change
Organisms and Their Environments


In this webquest, students use maps to relate global temperature change to changes in the range of insects and birds and projected changes in tree range. The activity could be used to teach a lesson via class discussion and/or written response; it could be completed by students in cooperative groups on paper or with shared computers; on the other hand, it could be completed by individual students with separate computers or paper.


  1. Students will use internet sources to investigate climate change.
  2. Students will relate temperature change to changes in insect, bird, and tree ranges.

Lesson Preparation

Students should have a basic understanding of ecosystem interactions.
Students should understand how to follow instructions to do an internet search.
Students should be able to interpret data from line graphs.
Students should be able to interpret data from maps.


  1. Go to NASA’s “Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet” at signs/global-temperature/
  2. Read the introduction, observe the graph, and activate the map animation.
  3. Discuss the data shown on the graph. Guide students to understand that the graph shows divergence from a baseline. Identify trends for 1880-1930, 1940-1980, and post-1980.
  4. Discuss the data shown on the map animation which shows the global warming trend.
  5. Go to “Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change in Yolo County” at and read the first two paragraphs.
  6. Discuss how climate change affects agricultural pests and disease.
  7. Go to UCAR’s “Climate Change and Vector-Borne Disease” at and read the first five paragraphs.
  8. Discuss why climate is important for understanding where and when parasitic diseases cause illness in humans and why climate change can cause a change in disease distribution. Use the malaria map to observe change in disease range.
  9. Go to the EPA’s “Climate Change Indicators” at wintering-ranges and read the graph caption and ‘Background’ section.
  10. Discuss the meaning of latitude first. Then use the graph and discuss the relationship of bird range to latitude. How might bird species be affected by climate change?
  11. Go to the EPA’s “Climate Change” at and read the first two paragraphs.
  12. Discuss how forests benefit society.
  13. Enlarge the eastern United States tree range maps. Discuss the projected changes in tree range for various types of trees.
  14. Go to Ecology “Effects of Climate Change on Biodiversity” at Discuss projected tree diversity for your state.
  15. Finally, discuss climate change in general. Have students write a paragraph in which they discuss the impact of climate change on natural communities. Ask them to support their claims with evidence taken from the readings, graphs, and maps.


"Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change in Yolo County". University of California Davis.

Cain, Michael L., Bowman, William D., Hacker, Sally D. “Effects of Climate Change on Biodiversity”. Ecology. Third Edition. Sinauer Associates. 2014.

“Climate Change”. Environmental Protection Agency. August 2, 2016.

“Climate Change and Vector-Borne Disease”. Center for Science Education. 2011

“Climate Change Indicators”. Environmental Protection Agency. August 2, 2016.

“Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet”. NASA. August 3, 2016.


Assessment will depend on how the activity is implemented. If it is used as a lesson with discussion, then there may be no written product. If there is a written product (see the Student Investigation Sheet), then answers can be assessed for accuracy. The final paragraph should make at least one reasonable claim and be supported with facts from any of the resources.


Anne Farley Schoeffler schoefflera [at]

Standards Other

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Idea

MS-LS2-2: Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.


Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Cross-Cutting Concepts

Cause and Effect
Stability and Change

This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this program are those of the PIs and coordinating team, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.