Field investigations represent an excellent opportunity to integrate the Next Generation Science Standards to complement and enhance both classroom and laboratory instruction. This inquiry-based exercise is designed to introduce students to the basic anatomy, ecology, and natural history of a common backyard denizen, the wolf spider (Lycosidae). Students are charged with developing one or more testable hypotheses regarding wolf spiders in their own backyards. Wolf spiders are an ideal subject for field investigation because their secondary eyes possess a highly reflective layer called the tapetum lucidum. At night, this layer produces an unmistakable “eyeshine” when viewed with the beam of a flashlight. Playing the role of students, we tested the hypothesis that wolf spiders should occur at higher density in an undeveloped field than in a typical backyard. To test this, we utilized random quadrat sampling in both habitats using flashlights to detect nocturnal eyeshine. Students obtaining similar results would likely have concluded that wolf spiders were more abundant in natural habitats.
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Vol. 81 • No. 8