Lessons for Use of the Predators and Prey Poster. PRISM: Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, USA

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1 Lessons for Use of the Predators and Prey Poster PRISM: Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ, USA Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama Anna Mazzaro, M.A. This poster was designed for classroom use to teach students about food webs. The photos are all from Barro Colorado Island, Panama. The island is a research field station of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The photos were taken using camera-traps to photograph animals in the forest, without disturbing their normal activities. The poster commemorates a long-term mammal study by Dr. Jacalyn Willis, Gregory Willis, and associates who tracked populations of mammals on the island since The poster is best used in conjunction with a live conversation with researchers on the island, so that students can ask questions. More information is available in videos and photo galleries on the PRISM website:. See Lesson #6. LESSON #1: FOOD WEBS ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS Almost all energy (food) and matter can be traced to the sun. CONCEPTS Energy entering ecosystems as sunlight is transferred into chemical energy through photosynthesis by producers. That energy then passes from organism to organism in food webs. The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and abiotic factors. Populations of organisms can be categorized by the roles they serve in an ecosystem. Food webs identify the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem. QUESTIONS How do the animals on the poster relate to each other? What organisms should be added to complete the food web? What would happen if the populations of wild cats (ocelot, puma, jaguarundi, margay) increase? What would happen if the populations of rodents (such as agoutis) increase? What would happen if a drought affected the island and the production of fruits was lower than in other years? What factor/s affect food webs? How? How is a spider web like a food web?

2 ACTIVITIES Research about the animal species found on the poster: Use student s journals to record findings. On cards, students write short descriptions of each animal species including habitat, diet, and predators. The name or picture of the species should be on the front of the card. Game: Use the cards previously prepared by the students to play the game. Plants (trees, seeds, flowers, etc.), decomposers (fungi and bacteria), scavengers (animals that eat dead animals), detritivores (consumer that obtains its nutrients from detritus), and sun cards should be included. Add the cards for plants, fungi, scavengers, detritivores, and the Sun. The name of the organism should be written on the card or a picture of it can be downloaded from the internet. Each student picks a card. Students read the description behind the cards, they choose and then place the card on a big bulletin board and connect it with other organisms using wool or string. At the end, all organisms will be connected forming a web. At this time, students can brainstorm and answer some of the questions listed above and come up with new ones. VOCABULARY English Food chain Food web Producers Consumers Herbivores Carnivores Omnivores Scavengers Detritivores Predator Prey Decomposers Adaptations Protect Bat/s Spanish cadena alimenticia redes alimenticias productores consumidores herbívoros carnívoros onmívoros carroñeros detritívoros predador presa descomponedores adaptaciones proteger murciélago/s

3 LESSON #2: PRODUCERS, CONSUMERS, DECOMPOSERS ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS Changes in the size of one population will affect another population in the same food web. Green plants manufacture their own food; animals depend on plants. Predators usually consume a lot of energy to obtain their food. QUESTIONS Which of the organisms in your local habitats are consumers? Which are producers? What are some of the predators in your area? Which organisms get their energy directly from the Sun? What would happen if there were no plants in an ecosystem? What would the earth be like if there was no Sun? How is a terrestrial food web different from or similar to an aquatic food web? ACTIVITIES Make a terrarium and/or aquarium to keep in the classroom. Students conduct observations and keep records of behavior, interactions, changes, etc. Besides observing the terrarium/ aquarium, students can research what animals live in the school area. Students focus on what the various species feed on. After researching, they can make charts labeled with broad categories where they can add more details: After charts are completed, draw students attention to each group, explain that organisms that make their own food, plants, are called producers. Organisms that eat plants, are consumers, and animals that eat other animals are predators. Using strips of construction paper and the information from the plants and animals they gathered before, students make paper chains of construction paper. At first, chains will be simple, (grass, a mouse, and a fox). Always begin each chain with sunlight. Later, students will make connections and connect different food chains, creating food webs. It s important that students understand that food webs would not exist without sunlight. Students may research predators from their home state or region and illustrate the food webs. Students can create a food web mobile: 1. Put an image of the Sun at the top. Select several producers, herbivores and carnivores. 2. Draw them on paper, color them and cut out the shapes. 3. Make holes in the paper cut-outs. 4. Connect the animals and plants in the food web with string to start a mobile. (Put plants near the Sun.). 5. Interconnect food chains to increase complexity to form a food web by using straws as cross pieces to link the food chains.

4 LESSON #3: PREDATOR/PREY ADAPTATIONS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE DISCUSSION How do prey protect themselves from predators? Why do some insects have bright colors and others dull colors? How do some physical characteristics help animals protect themselves from being eaten? How many different kinds of feeding strategies can you identify among wild cats? What do animals need to survive? How do habitats change? What are some characteristics of rainforests? What animals live in rainforests? How do scientists study animals? What are some of the animals that live in your school/ neighborhood environment? ACTIVITIES Working in groups, each team receives a set of pictures of animals and plants. Each picture is numbered. Students will complete a short description of each animal. Color: Behavior: Food Source: Special Adaptations: Predators: Students write one sentence explaining how some adaptations help animals/plants get food or protect themselves from predators. For example: a. A woodpecker has a long bill to drill holes in tree bark to get food and make its home. b. A bush has thorns that protect it from animals that might feed on the new tender leaves.

5 Research animals from the rainforest. Learn about wild cats such as ocelots and their adaptations at - Rainforest Connection website Mammal Directory. Students can study different ways organisms protect themselves from predators or get food. They can research about teeth and claws; tongues and bills, hunting techniques, camouflage and mimicry, wings and ears, and other ways animals protect and feed themselves. Students can make bird bills using tongs or craft sticks. They can simulate long bills to catch fish or insects, or short bills to break seeds. How have animals adapted to different climates? To different food sources? Students should make a list of the basic needs of living things. Using a Venn diagram, students compare and contrast their environment with a rainforest. Students record and compare the daytime and nighttime temperatures in a rainforest and in their area. Students graph the changes and find the average temperature and the highest and lowest in these two environments. Useful and ample information is available on: Vocabulary English Spanish

6 LESSON #4: BIOMES ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS Biomes are functional units of interacting abiotic (non-living) and biotic (living) components. Biomes are open systems in which energy and matter are transferred in and out through complex interactions and cycles. QUESTIONS What is a biome? Why do scientists study biomes? How do scientists study different biomes? How can biomes be affected by changes? What is needed to keep the balance and health of a biome? ACTIVITIES Students research about different biomes. Students can be divided in groups. Each group will research one biome and later share their findings with the rest of the class. Compare and contrast the biomes by recording the temperature, rainfall, soil, vegetation, and animals in each one. Students can record the temperatures of different locations using Also check for definition of terms VOCABULARY English Spanish

7 LESSON #5: ECOSYSTEMS Ecosystem Discussion Questions What are ecosystems? How is one ecosystem similar to or different from another? How do animals survive in an ecosystem? How do plants and animals interact? What other kinds of interactions occur between organisms? How can an environment change? What are two characteristics of your school/neighborhood ecosystem? What animals did you find in your school/neighborhood ecosystem? What types of relationships can you observe between two types of organisms in a local ecosystem? ACTIVITIES Students go on a nature walk in or around the school premises. First, students observe the area. List what they see, hear, feel, and smell (be sure that nothing is tasted). After, students make more detailed observations of the area. Mark areas of about one square meter ahead of time (or use this as a measuring activity). Use four sticks, one to mark each corner. Use string to show the sides. Assign each plot to a group of students. They observe and record the living and non-living things in the assigned area. Where are the living things found? Is there water in the area? What non-living things are in the area? A sample of soil can be dug out for a more detailed observation in the classroom. Students describe what physical characteristics the living things have that help them survive in this environment. Analyze why certain animals/plants are able to survive here, and why certain animals/plants cannot survive in this area. Students keep records of observations and comments in their journals. Drawings are encouraged. It is recommended that students come back to this area more than once. This will allow them to make comparisons and observe changes.

8 Students imagine that there has been an environmental disaster in their area, such as a flood, drought, tornado, or fire. They make predictions of what would happen to the animals, plants, soils, non-living things, if such a disaster happened. They write an article for an out-ofstate newspaper explaining what happened and the consequences of this event. For longer observations, students can observe an aquarium or terrarium. Students identify the components of this ecosystem (living and non-living things, visible and invisible, etc.). Keep records of their observations. Explain some of the interactions that take place in the ecosystem. VOCABULARY English Spanish LESSON #6: Talk with Researchers through the Rainforest Connection Arrange a live conversation for your class with a researcher in a forest or museum or sanctuary. Discussions are in English and Spanish. Go to the website for PRISM and check out the resources and ways to contact Dr. Jacalyn Willis and her associates in Panama and other locations:

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