Here a Fish,  There a Fish - Atlantic Silverside

Research Question: How and why do Atlantic Silverside populations change along the Poquonnock River?

Part A: Read the background information

Nearshore Fish_Atlantic Silverside.png

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 spawn in grassy shallows during the late spring and early summer.  The eggs stick to the marsh grass stems or algae. The life cycle of a silverside is short, they usually survive a year or less.  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.  

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

Part C: Analyze the Data

Look at the dataset below.  On your piece of paper, illustrate the data by making a graph.  Your graph should have clear labels on both the x-axis and the y-axis.  The type of graph (scatterplot, column graph, etc) is up to you.

This table shows the number of silversides captured while seining at each location, on a single day in July 2019.  

Nearshore Fish_Atlantic Silverside_Table

 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.

  3. Explain your reasoning. Make sure to connect your answer to what you have learned about silverside biology.

  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

  • 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. 

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