Climate change is causing widespread forest mortality due to intensified drought conditions. In light of a dynamically changing planet, understanding when forest die-off will occur is vital in predicting forest response to future climate trends. The Environmental Ecology Lab studies plant physiological response to drought stress to determine the lethal level of drought for pinyon pine. This drought research inspired this high school biology lesson, which addresses the NGSS Performance Expectation HS-LS4-6. Students engage in a climate change discussion regarding the devastation of California wildfires. Ongoing research in the lab is then introduced, leading students to design their own drought experiment using radish plants. Students determine an effective drought detector as a solution to mitigate human-induced climate change. Experimental data are statistically tested using R, to determine the effectiveness of drought detectors. To place their observations in a global context, students research the NASA Global Climate Change website to provide evidence to support their claim of human-induced climate change and relate this to a reduction in biodiversity. In a final presentation, groups share their most effective physiological measurement and propose potential applications of drought detection in mitigating adverse impacts of climate change.

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