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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.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • 9-10.RST.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form and translate information expressed visually or mathematically into words.
      • 11-12.RST.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • Mathematics
    • Data Reasoning and Probability (9-12)
      • HS.DR.C.9 Use statistics appropriate to the shape of the data distribution to compare the center and spread of two or more different data sets.
  • Science
    • 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.
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