Traditionally, exploration of ecosystems in the context of undergraduate education has been restricted to connections within conventionally defined habitats (i.e., within a stream, within a forest). Further, instruction regarding the aquatic-terrestrial interface has emphasized directional inputs from land to water. However, a relatively new body of research has characterized reciprocal interactions and draws attention to fluxes from water to land, including the emergence of aquatic insects that serve as prey for terrestrial predators. We present a guide to an inquiry-based lesson for undergraduate biology that explores interactions and connections across aquatic and terrestrial habitat boundaries. The focus is on cross-habitat linkages within ecosystems, specifically addressing the question, What is the role of insect emergence in connecting the web of life linking aquatic and terrestrial habitats and organisms? Students (1) engage with a documentary film, (2) explore insect emergence and make observations of riparian insectivores, (3) explain the collected data, (4) elaborate on alternative study designs and a measure of ecosystem health, and (5) evaluate their new understanding. This lesson addresses core concepts and competencies for undergraduate biology education, as identified in the Vision and Change report.
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