Here a Fish,  There a Fish - Deep Dive 2

Deep Dive Research Question: How are Atlantic Silversides using the Poquonnock River at Different Life Stages?

Part A: Read the background information

The Atlantic silverside  (Menidia menidia) is a very common schooling fish that is found year round in coastal shoreline waters.  Most fish schools consist of similar sized individuals.  Silversides commonly swim among the submerged grasses in shallow brackish water.  During the winter they move into deeper water to avoid the cold temperatures of the shallow water. Silversides are omnivores and eat a varied diet of zooplankton, copepods, amphipods, worms, insects and algae.  They are important prey for larger predatory fish such as striped bass and bluefish and are also eaten by birds such as terns and cormorants.  

The entire life cycle of the silverside is completed in 1 year. Reproduction occurs in the late spring and early summer.  The eggs stick to the arsh grass stems or algae. Temperature of developing embryoys affects the sex of the fish.  Warmer temperatures produce more males. Juveniles grow rapidly during the summer and reach full adult size by late fall. Most silversides usually survive a year or less (maximum 2 years).  

Our friend Dr. Hannes Bauman at UCONN studies silversides - for more information about them, check out his research page

Part B: Prediction and Reasoning

Study the background information provided on Atlantic Silversides (above), and take the virtual tour of the Poquonnock River, paying close attention to habitat descriptions.  Write answers to the following prompts on your sheet of paper.

  1. Make a prediction:  In July, where along the Poquonnock River would you expect to see the most juvenile atlantic silversides?

  2. Explain your reasoning:  WHY do you think juvenile atlantic silversides are most likely to be in this location?

  3. Make a prediction:  In July, where along the Poquonnock River would you expect to see the most adult atlantic silversides?

  4. Explain your reasoning:  If you predicted the adults would be in a different location from juveniles, where/why?

Part C: Analyze the Data

Look at the dataset below.  On your piece of paper, illustrate the data by making one or more graphs.  Your graph(s) should have clear labels on both the x-axis and the y-axis.  The way you handle the data is up to you - your goal is to compare the locations, so think about what kind of graph would most effectively show any differences that are present between the locations.

The Project O students measured each silverside they caught at each of four locations, on a single day in July.  The table below shows the number of fish they caught in each size category.

 Part D: Interpret the Results and Make Arguments from Evidence

On your sheet of paper, answer the following questions:

  1. Make a claim that answers the research question (one sentence).

  2. What evidence was used to write your claim?  Reference specific parts of your graph(s).

  3. Explain your reasoning.   Make sure to connect your answer to what you have learned about the biology of atlantic silversides.

  4. Was your prediction supported by the results? Use evidence to explain why or why not.

  5. How would you follow up?  Describe a new question that should be investigated to build on these results, and what future data should be collected to answer your question.

Congratulations!  Your final analysis should include the following components:

  • A statement of the research question that you chose/were assigned

  • Your prediction and your reasoning

  • Your labelled graph(s)

  • Your answers to the results questions

Share your results with your teacher, and/or by emailing it to Project O:, attn: Dr. Molly

**Educators and/or homeschool parents: educator guides are available for all research projects. 

Email to request an educator guide**

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