CORE CURRICULUM GOALS:
Science Core/Standard V 4th Grade
• Objective 2: Describe the common plants and animals found in Utah environments and
how these organisms have adapted to the environment in which they live.
• Objective 4: Observe and record the behavior of Utah animals.
Science Core/Standard V 5th Grade
• Objective 2: Describe how some characteristics could give a species a survival advantage
in a particular environment.
Integrated Science Core/Standard IV 7th Grade
• Objective 2b: Cite examples of traits that provide an advantage for survival in one
environment but not other environments.
Earth Systems Core/Standard II
• Objective 3: Examine the earth’s diversity of life as it changes over time.
Biology Core/Standard I
• Objective 3: Describe how interactions among organisms and their environment help
• Organize and interpret data describing fish populations from Utah Lake.
• Analyze and make inferences about the effects of human use and habitat changes in
• Describe possible actions that can be taken to mitigate negative impacts caused by nonnative
fish in Utah Lake.
• Copies of the Utah Lake Theoretical Fish Population Data Table and Historical Events for
• Graph paper and rulers
• Overhead transparency copies of Utah Lake Theoretical Fish Population Data Table and
Historical Events (optional).
1849: Utah Lake tributaries diverted. As a result many fish are directed into canals and
carried onto farmer’s fields rather than back to the lake. This practice has continued
into recent times.
1872: A dam is constructed across the Jordan River (Utah Lake’s only outlet).
1886: Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) introduced to Utah Lake.
1893: Black bullhead (Ameiurus melas) introduced to Utah Lake.
1890’s: Tributary rivers drained in an effort to water farmer’s dry fields. Thousands of tons
of native fish are left out of water.
1890: Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) introduced to Utah Lake.
1906: “We found the lake trout [Bonneville cutthroat trout] had done poorly, because of low
and consequently muddy water; and the carp, which have thriven immensely, have
eaten off the mosses and similar growth along the bottom of the lake, so that the
trout have not had enough to eat. Carp are a good deal like the English sparrow —
once they get into a place they are there to say,” E.A. Tullian, Superintendent of the
United States Fish Commission, 1901.
1913: More than 200,000 acres of land are being irrigated. So much water is drained from
Utah Lake that aquatic vegetation is annihilated, and millions of fish die from overcrowding
and insufficient oxygen supply.
1919: Channel catfish (Ictalurus puctatus) introduced to Utah Lake.
1928: Last specimen of Utah Lake sculpin collected, it is now considered extinct.
1930’s: Utah Lake suffers a severe drought and shrivels to an alarming average depth of
1932: Last Bonneville cutthroat trout captured in Utah Lake.
1952: Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) introduced to Utah Lake.
1956: White bass (Morone chrysops) introduced to Utah Lake.
1986: June sucker are added to the Endangered Species List.
1995: Use of gill nets to catch fish for Division of Wildlife Resources monitoring program
is discontinued in order to reduce the risk of harming native fish.
1999: A significant study reveals that wastewater treatment plants deposited more
phosphorous into Utah Lake than any other source (149.5 tons per year).
2002: June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program formed.
1. Pass out copies of the Utah Lake Theoretical Fish Population Data Table and discuss
information about each species. Explain or model (using an overhead projector) to
students how to graph levels of each species population from 1875 to 2005.
2. Remind students to put the year 1875, 1885, 1895…2005 on the x-axis and place the
estimated population numbers on the y-axis.
3. After students have their graphs constructed provide them with the Historical Events
information (or display it on the overhead projector) and have them review this new
information in relation to what their graphs show. Instruct them to choose at least five
historical events and integrate the information on their graphs by making notes on their
graphs at the points where significant historical events occurred.
4. Ask or discuss the following questions with your students after their graphs are
constructed and the historical events have been added:
• What trends or patterns do you see on your graphs?
• Does your graph show any long-term trends or patterns?
• There have been 24 species of fish successfully introduced to Utah Lake. Only three
(white bass, walleye and carp) appear on your graph. What inferences can be made
about the introduction of non-native species?
• What other factors may be affecting the number of native species of fish?
• A new event or factor may take some time to be detected or have an impact on fish
populations. Does your graph seem to show any of these situations in relation to a
possible historical event?
• If faced with making a management decision based on one of your interpretations
from your graph, what would you do?
• When you added the Historical Events to your graph what new inferences can be
made? How does the information help create a better picture of the overall health of
• Named for its June spawning runs, June sucker are a very important fish. Utah Lake is
the only place in the world where June sucker live naturally. Why would the actions to
recover the June sucker population from extinction hold the key to helping revitalize
the lake’s ecosystem? How does the June sucker serve as an effective measuring tool
to monitor the entire lake ecosystem?
• Have older students research the efforts of the June Sucker Recovery Implementation
Program at http://www.junesuckerrecovery.org. What factors made the June sucker a
candidate for the Endangered Species List? Are there efforts being made to breed June
sucker in captivity?
• Have older students design a model of a shallow lake (similar to Utah Lake) and investigate
the effects of nutrients (by using dish soap/fertilizer), oxygen levels, and turbidity on plant
and fish populations.
• Have younger students construct a wall-sized graph together as a class or assign small
groups of students to be in charge of a single fish species and then plotting their data on
a classroom graph on the overhead projector.