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Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Articles and Websites
  • Scientific Papers or Reports, 9 pages

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Midwest, Wisconsin



Plants and Natural Communities Working Group

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  • This article reviews the impacts of climate change in Wisconsin on plant communities and details practices that can mitigate climate stressors while supporting adaptation. 
  • The article describes major threats to Wisconsin plant communities including extreme weather, drought, precipitation changes, and changes to the Great Lakes, and additional research reports related to extreme weather and habitat restoration are linked in the article.
Teaching Tips


  • The article describes how environmental issues unrelated to climate change (like habitat loss and runoff) can compound with climate change to create major ecological challenges.
  • The concept of a working group producing reports with science-backed solutions shows that communities can come together with hope to work towards resiliency.
  • The working group highlights environmental justice concerns related to preserving hunting, fishing, farming opportunities and a healthy environment for Wisconsin residents.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with some of the ecosystem services of wetlands.
  • Students should understand how extreme weather events can impact plant communities.


  • Before reading the article, ask students how they think plants in their own communities have been affected by climate change.
  • Consider having students dig deeper into the topic of invasive species and climate change by researching common invasive plants in Wisconsin and their tolerance to drought and flood conditions.
  • As an extension activity, have students choose a wetland area near their schools and research whether there is documentation of climate change's effects on the ecosystem.
  • Students are encouraged to read the linked Issue-Impact-Strategy Table report by the Plant and Natural Communities Working Group to learn about management practices such as cover cropping, wetland restoration, prescribed burning, drought-tolerant plantings, computer modeling, and tree planting. Have more advanced students do this and then write a summary of the report's findings.
Scientist Notes
This resource is the site for the Plants and Natural Communities Working Group for the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts. The page describes what Wisconsin’s natural communities are and how they will be affected by climate change. The page also discusses potential solutions, links to related articles written by the group, and explains some climate justice issues. This webpage does not explain the science behind climate change and why the impacts mentioned are occurring, but it does link to other resources. The information presented is accurate and this resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2. Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
      • HS-ESS2-3. Develop a model based on evidence of Earth’s interior to describe the cycling of matter by thermal convection.
      • HS-ESS2-5. Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-6. Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
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