Nutrient Cycling in the Serengeti
In this activity, students engage with an example from the Serengeti ecosystem to illustrate the exchange of nutrients between plants, animals, and the environment.
Many ecological concepts can be taught using the Serengeti as a case study. It is a rich and diverse habitat where much research has been done to explain how organisms interact with each other and their environment. This activity focuses on the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus using a typical savanna grass and wildebeest as examples. After a brief introductory video, students use a card activity to engage with some processes at play in nutrient cycling in the Serengeti. They then reflect on those processes through group discussion and by completing an additional handout.
Student Learning Targets
- Identify essential nutrients that organisms need — specifically carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) — and their major organic and inorganic forms.
- Describe major reservoirs of C, N, and P, and identify the processes that move the nutrients between these reservoirs.
- Articulate the concept of a limiting nutrient.
- Describe the role of microbes in nutrient cycling.
bacteria, carbon, detritivore, nitrogen, phosphorus, respiration, savanna, wildebeest
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4.1, 4.3, C.2, C.6