Creating Chains and Webs to Model Ecological Relationships
This hands-on activity allows students to build model food webs and then evaluate how ecological disturbances affect each trophic level.
Students begin the activity by identifying producers and consumers in the savanna ecosystem of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. Using a set of “Gorongosa cards,” they create food chains to show the flow of energy in the system, introduce an ecological force or disturbance (e.g., fire), and predict how that force would impact animals in the chain. Lastly, students will construct a more complex model of the flow of energy by depicting multiple relationships in a food web and again make a prediction about the impact of introducing an ecological force.
Student Learning Targets
- Classify organisms based on their roles in the transfer of energy in an ecosystem.
- Create a model (e.g., a food chain) showing feeding relationships among organisms.
- Evaluate different models that depict relationships among organisms in a community.
- Predict how ecological forces or disturbances may impact their models and justify their claim with evidence.
carnivore, consumer, energy flow, herbivore, omnivore, primary consumer, producer, quaternary consumer, rule of 10 percent, secondary consumer, tertiary consumer
HS-LS2-2, HS-LS2-4, HS-LS2-6; SEP2, SEP6
ENE-1.H, ENE-1.N, ENE-1.O, ENE4.C, SYI-1.H, SYI-3.G; SP1, SP2, SP4, SP6
4.1, 4.2, C.1
CC5; DP1, DP3