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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Biology, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Worksheets
  • Lesson Plans
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - South, Texas



Lizards in the Cold

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  • In this activity, students learn about natural selection in populations by analyzing and interpreting two graphs showing how anole lizards adapt to extremely cold temperatures.
  • The graphs are from a study in which scientists investigated how winter storms in Texas affected local populations of anoles.
Teaching Tips


  • The educator materials document contains labeled illustrations, background information, interpretation of the illustrations, and discussion questions.
  • Students learn how to analyze data from a scientific illustration and understand how natural selection is impacted by climate change.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The resource includes an educator guide and student handout in PDF format.
  • The image of Texas and the two graphs are available to download as JPGs.


  • For students needing additional guidance, the teacher could lead the discussion and help students develop observations and interpretations.
  • Advanced students may be asked to write a paragraph on the relationship between extreme climate events, natural selection, and animal adaptation based on this resource.
  • The teacher could ask students to complete a project in which they study another species affected by extreme climate events.
  • Other resources related to the topic include the video Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning and Resilience and the article 5 Plants and Animals Utterly Confused by Climate change.
Scientist Notes
The resource describes changes in evolution as a result of the cascading climate change impact. The graphs shows the distribution of lizards and the changes within a critical thermal minimum. There is no contradiction in the model; thus, this resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • HS-LS4-3 Apply concepts of statistics and probability to support explanations that organisms with an advantageous heritable trait tend to increase in proportion to organisms lacking this trait.
      • HS-LS4-4 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
      • HS-LS4-5 Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
  • 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.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Statistics & Probability: Interpreting Categorical & Quantitative Data (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSS.ID.A.2 Use statistics appropriate to the shape of the data distribution to compare center (median, mean) and spread (interquartile range, standard deviation) of two or more different data sets.
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