Science - Biology
Standard 1 Objective 3
Science - Biology
Standard 5 Objective 2
10 class periods of 30 minutes each
This activity is part of the TGLL Habitat Alteration Module. This is a long-term project, ideally spanning from 2-3 months. This project will involve observing habitat succession at sites that either vary naturally, or at sites that are experimentally manipulated by students (human alterations).
This activity is part of the TGLL Habitat Alteration Module. For this activity, it is important to teach part one of this module, "What is a Habitat," first. This activity will run between 2-3 months, and should be initiated either at the start of the school year, or in the spring (during the plant growing season) in order to avoid the cold winter months (plant non-growing season).
The instructor should also identify potential sites at which to conduct the activity (either indoors or outdoors) in accordance with school regulations.
Background Information: A habitat is the area in which an organism lives and the environmental (biological and physical) factors that surround it. Habitat alteration is the process of environmental change in a habitat. Habitats are always undergoing change and changes can be caused by physical processes (such as earthquakes, changes in climate) or by the activity of organisms (such as beavers altering stream flows). Changes can be subtle, such as a woodpecker drilling a hole in a tree, or extreme, such as human conversion of vast tracts of rainforest to agricultural land. Humans are ecosystem engineers; an ecosystem engineer has a proportionally large effect on the environment around them. These effects can be both intended (such as logging forests to gather resources) and unintended (such as increasing erosion and soil run-off in that same area). Habitat alteration can generate numerous physical and biological consequences, such as altered ecosystem properties (e.g. movement of nutrients) and changes in biodiversity.
Habitat succession is a type of habitat alteration that refers to more or less predictable and orderly changes in the composition or structure of a habitat, including its physical (e.g. soil nutrients) and biological characteristics (e.g. type of plants and species diversity). The trajectory of succession can be influenced by site conditions, by the interactions of the species present, and by other factors such as availability of seeds. In this activity students will explore habitat alteration by altering the physical environment and monitoring the habitat succession (physical and biological change) that takes place.
Students need to understand how to measure biodiversity (i.e. the ability to differentiate plant and insect species and count their numbers), how to measure plant growth rates, how to measure soil characteristics using soil kits or use tactile analysis (moisture content, composition -clay, silt, sand), how to measure soil temperatures using temperature probes, and how to "identify" or "create" different habitat types.
1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills
This is a specific example for the succession of grasses in a schoolyard. See extensions for other examples and ideas how to develop this project.
Other potential sites