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Gulf of Maine Research Institute


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Scientific Papers or Reports, 4 pages
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables
  • Lesson Plans

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - Northeast, Maine



Climate Story - Birds Lesson

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  • This report examines the connection between climate change and bird sizes everywhere, the ecogeographical rule that helps explain this connection, and the risk climate change poses to North American birds.
  • Students will learn that birds are getting smaller because of climate change, hundreds of North American bird species are struggling to reproduce, and Bergmann's rule asserts that animals become smaller as the climate warms.
  • The report includes other resources from Cornell University and Audubon.
Teaching Tips


  • This report contains specific and relevant statistics regarding birds and their connection to climate change.
  • This report includes links to games, activities, and curriculum about birds, which are great paths for extension after reading the article.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should zoom in when viewing this report's graphs.
  • Students should already understand what climate change is and how it increases the frequency of extreme weather events.
  • Teachers can use the included vocabulary list to determine what terms to introduce to students before reading the article.


  • Language arts students can use this report for an informative essay on how climate change impacts biodiversity and the evolution of certain species.
  • Students can read this report to supplement a lesson on evolution and natural selection.
  • After reading this report, students can brainstorm and discuss ideas for what conservation organizations can do to help North American birds.
  • This report can be used with other resources that show animals decreasing in size in a classroom activity where students investigate the validity of Bergmann's rule in various contexts.
Scientist Notes
As the climate warms, birds are getting smaller. This resource features peer reviewed papers and data from sources including the National Audobon Society, NASA, and The Cornell Lab to support this claim. The myriad linked resources are exceptionally well-sourced, and this resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-7 Construct an argument based on evidence about the simultaneous coevolution of Earth’s systems and life on Earth.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • HS-LS4-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.
      • HS-LS4-4 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Functions: Interpreting Functions (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.IF.B.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function (presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change from a graph.
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