This is a unit on ecosystems, interdependence, and food webs. It compares local ecosystems to high mountain ecosystems, and allows students to interpret the information both visual/spatially and linguistically. The ideas in the unit are not complex; thus it can be adapted for intermediate classes. Or, it could be modified as an introduction or summation to a unit on adaptations for older grades. It is a wonderful opportunity for senior students to represent the information they have learned artistically and spatially, especially if they are asked to explain their choices afterwards. This process allows the senior students to understand the details and connections between ideas in a different way than just reading and writing about them. The unit also emphasizes group process and teamwork, in a variety of ways.


Curriculum Links:
Pan- Canadian Protocol for Collaboration on School Curriculum:
Common framework of Science Learning Outcomes

Grade 7: LIFE SCIENCE

Interactions within ecosystems

STSE: It is expected that students will...

Nature of science and technology:

109-1: describe the role of collecting evidence, finding relationships, and proposing explanations in the development of scientific knowledge (e.g., explain that observation and identification of similar characteristics enables classification and an appreciation of diversity; explain that a simple predator prey relationship may provide insight into the interrelationships in a food web)

109-12: distinguish between terms that are scientific or technological and those that are not (e.g., use appropriate terms such as "insect" or "caribou" rather than "bug" or "reindeer")

Relationships between science and technology:

111-1: provide examples of scientific knowledge that have resulted in the development of technologies (e.g., provide examples such as how an understanding of the effect of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium on plant growth is related to the production of fertilizers, how a knowledge of microorganisms has affected food production and preservation techniques, and how a knowledge of fish behaviour is used in aquaculture)

111-6: apply the concept of systems as a tool for interpreting the structure and interactions of natural and technological systems (e.g., compare the input and output of energy in an ecosystem to that in an isolated community of humans)

Social and environmental contexts of science and technology:

112-4: provide examples of Canadian institutions that support scientific and technological endeavours (e.g., provide examples of institutions such as environmental conservation groups, federal and provincial government departments, marine institutes, universities, and colleges)

112-8: provide examples to illustrate that scientific and technological activities take place in a variety of individual or group settings (e.g., provide examples such as individual and community gardening, impact studies done by environmental chemists, and research done by teams of international scientists)

113-10: provide examples of problems that arise at home, in an industrial setting, or in the environment that cannot be solved using scientific and technological knowledge (e.g., identify issues such as the acceptable size of an animal population in a city or the decision to spray against mosquitoes in a city)

113-13: propose a course of action on social issues related to science and technology, taking into account personal needs (e.g., propose a course of action to protect the local nesting habitat of a given bird)

SKILLS: It is expected that students will...

Initiating and planning:

208-2: identify questions to investigate arising from practical problems and issues (e.g., identify potential questions such as "How can you prolong the life of a landfill site?" and "How could a community reduce the amount of garbage it produces?")

208-3: define and delimit questions and problems to facilitate investigation (e.g., delimit a problem related to research on the impact of forest fires on ecological succession)

208-5: state a prediction and a hypothesis based on background information or an observed pattern of events (e.g., predict what an aquatic ecosystem will look like in 25 years based on characteristics of the area and the long-term changes observed in similar sites)

Performing and recording:

209-5:select and integrate information from various print and electronic sources or from several parts of the same source (e.g., compile information from a variety of books, magazines, pamphlets, and Internet sites, as well as from conversations with experts, on the role of microorganisms in food preservation)

Analysing and interpreting:

210-1: use or construct a classification key (e.g., construct a key that will enable classmates to differentiate between producers and consumers)

210-2: compile and display data, by hand or computer, in a variety of formats, including diagrams, flow charts, tables, bar graphs, line graphs, and scatter plots (e.g., prepare a chart showing the flow of energy in a food web that exists in the school yard)

210-3: identify strengths and weaknesses of different methods of collecting and displaying data (e.g., compare observations done in the field with observations based on a television program)
210-12: identify and evaluate potential applications of findings (e.g., determine the maximum allowable number of visitors in a sensitive area such as an ecological reserve or park)

Communication and teamwork:


211-5: defend a given position on an issue or problem, based on their findings (e.g., defend their decision to increase or decrease hunting or fishing quotas for a particular animal)

KNOWLEDGE: It is expected that students will...

304-1: explain how biological classification takes into account the diversity of life on Earth

304-2: identify the roles of producers, consumers, and decomposers in a local ecosystem, and describe both their diversity and their interactions

304-3: describe conditions essential to the growth and reproduction of plants and microorganisms in an ecosystem and relate these conditions to various aspects of the human food supply

306-1: describe how energy is supplied to, and how it flows through, a food web

306-2: describe how matter is recycled in an ecosystem through interactions among plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms

306-3: describe interactions between biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem

306-4: identify signs of ecological succession in a local ecosystem


Grade 10: LIFE SCIENCE

Sustainability of ecosystems

STSE: It is expected that students will...

Nature of science and technology:

114-1: explain how a paradigm shift can change scientific world views (e.g., give examples such as the shift from a world view centred on humans to one focussed on interrelationships among all species, or the shift to the acknowledgment that all biotic and abiotic factors on Earth are interrelated)

114-5: describe the importance of peer review in the development of scientific knowledge (e.g., describe the importance of peer review in providing critical feedback on research related to the impact of atmospheric pollutants on an ecosystem)

Relationships between science and technology:

116-1: identify examples where scientific understanding was enhanced or revised as a result of the invention of a technology (e.g., give examples such as how tests and techniques used to determine dissolved oxygen, phosphate, and nitrate levels have helped us to understand important changes in aquatic ecosystems, or how tracking collars have provided data on migration patterns and population numbers)

Social and environmental contexts of science and technology:

117-3: describe how Canadian research projects in science and technology are funded (e.g., provide examples such as funding by environmental groups, federal and provincial government departments, and resource and tourism industries)

118-1: compare the risks and benefits to society and the environment of applying scientific knowledge or introducing a technology (e.g., compare the risks and benefits in examples such as the use of pesticides and fertilizers, the use of fishing nets, the protection of a particular species, or the introduction of a new species to an area)

118-5: defend a decision or judgement and demonstrate that relevant arguments can arise from different perspectives (e.g., present a brief for a public hearing and summarize the briefs of others on an issue related to a local environmental problem)

118-9: propose a course of action on social issues related to science and technology, taking into account human and environmental needs (e.g., organize a public hearing on an issue such as seasonal fishing quotas, or funding for public transportation)

SKILLS: It is expected that students will...

Initiating and planning:

212-4: state a prediction and a hypothesis based on available evidence and background information (e.g., predict the impact of fishing or harvesting resources such as seaweed, after examining an aquatic ecosystem; predict the impact on an ecosystem of supplying an excess of food for a particular organism)

212-7: formulate operational definitions of major variables (e.g., define operationally biotic factors, abiotic factors, biomass, and chemical concentration)

Performing and recording:

213-7: select and integrate information from various print and electronic sources or from several parts of the same source (e.g., search government publications and gather relevant information on sustainable development initiatives)

213-8: select and use apparatus and materials safely (e.g., select and use a Secchi disk, a pH meter, and sampling nets for collecting data in the study of an aquatic ecosystem)

Analysing and interpretation:


214-1: describe and apply classification systems and nomenclature used in the sciences (e.g., use terms related to abiotic and biotic components in a report of an ecosystem study)

214-3: compile and display evidence and information, by hand or computer, in a variety of formats, including diagrams, flow charts, tables, graphs, and scatter plots (e.g., present statistical data in diagrams, tables, and graphs as part of a brief for a public hearing on proposed mineral exploration in an ecologically sensitive area)
Communication and teamwork

215-1: communicate questions, ideas, and intentions, and receive, interpret, understand, support, and respond to the ideas of others (e.g., participate as a team member, during a simulated public hearing, in presenting the appropriate view of a particular stakeholder and respond to the views of others)

215-4: identify multiple perspectives that influence a science-related decision or issue (e.g., report on the perspectives presented by other participants in a public hearing)

KNOWLEDGE: It is expected that students will...

318-1: illustrate the cycling of matter through biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem by tracking carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen

318-2: describe the mechanisms of bioaccumulation, and explain its potential impact on the viability and diversity of consumers at all trophic levels

318-3: explain why ecosystems with similar characteristics can exist in different geographical locations

318-4: explain why different ecosystems respond differently to short-term stresses and long-term changes
318-5
explain various ways in which natural populations are kept in equilibrium and relate this equilibrium to the resource limits of an ecosystem

318-6: explain how the biodiversity of an ecosystem contributes to its sustainability

331-6: analyse the impact of external factors on an ecosystem

331-7: describe how soil composition and fertility can be altered and how these changes
could affect an ecosystem