Lesson Plan

Ecoregions of the Natchez Trace Parkway

Blackland Prairie
Blackland Prairie on Natchez Trace Parkway
NPS Photo

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Subject:
Ecology, Environment, Science and Technology
Duration:
2 class periods
Group Size:
Up to 36
Setting:
classroom
National/State Standards:
7th Grade Life Science: 3, 3a
8th Grade Life science: 3e
Keywords:
biome, abiotic, biotic, ecoregion, ecosystem, landform, ecology, environment, Science and Technology

Overview

The students will investigate an ecoregion of the NATR and fill out a worksheet with ecoregions characteristics. They will then collect the information into a class scrapbook. If necessary, the teacher will review with the class, the words; biotic, abiotic, biome and landform. The teacher will assign pairs or small groups of students to research the various ecoregions found along the Natchez Trace Parkway. The teacher will assist the students in compiling a scrapbook containing their research.

Objective(s)

Enduring Understanding: An ecoregion is part of a biome that has a particular soil type and landform.

Essential Question: What are some different examples of ecoregions?

The students will:

1) describe the biotic and abiotic characteristics of at least one ecoregion found along the Natchez Trace Parkway

2) understand how a disaster might affect the ecosystem



Background

An ecoregion (or bioregion) is a part of a biome. A biome may contain many different types of soils and landforms. An ecoregion is part of a biome that has a particular soil type and landform. There can be many different types of ecoregions in a biome. Even though two of the same kind of ecoregion may not be near each other, they will usually have many of the same types of biotic factors (plant and animals). An easy example to imagine is our country's Atlantic shoreline. The shore is within a deciduous forest biome. The shoreline in northern Florida has similar soil and land form as the shoreline in Maryland even though they are far away. Both are different than the Appalachian Mountains that are in the same biome. They may be considered the same ecoregion. They would have the same or similar plants and animals. Different scientists may have different definitions to various ecoregions. Ecosystems are smaller, localized areas within ecoregions.

The Natchez Trace Parkway has seven different ecoregions (see the diagram). See teacher answer sheet for summarized properties of the seven ecoregions.

General Characteristics of Natchez Trace Ecoregions

Nashville Basin

Maple- Oak - Hickory-Ash Forests

Gravely streams underlain with limestone

Highland Rim

Transitional to Mixed Forest of the Appalachians

Home of rare cedar glade ecosystems

Fall Line Hills

Mixed Oak - Pine Forest

Ecoregion with highest number of currently threatened or endangered species (5)

Blackland Prairie/Margins

Blackbelt Forest and Bluestem Prairie

Highly diverse 60+ bird species and 400+ plant species

Northern Hilly Gulf Coastal Plain

Mixed Pine - Oak Forest

Home to more than 30 species of reptiles and amphibians

Southern Rolling Hills

Oak -Hickory - Pine and Southern Floodplain Forests

Naturally fertile soils have largely been converted to agricultural uses.

MS Valley Bluff Hills and Loess Plains

Oak- Hickory-Pine Forests

Rare loess soil found in only one other North American location.



Materials

1.) Student Instructions and worksheets (3 pages)

2.) Access to internet



Procedure

Student Task: The students will fill out the worksheets by researching their assigned ecoregion on the internet. They are encouraged to find pictures to illustrate their research. When all research is done, the students will share what they learned about their ecoregion and compile a scrapbook.

Student Instruction: See Student Instruction Sheet in Materials

Teacher Closure: The teacher will display the scrapbook in the classroom or library

Assessment

Quality of research and completeness of worksheets

Park Connections

Discusses the ecoregions of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Extensions

1.) Relate Natchez Trace ecoregions to other areas

2.) Visit the Natchez Trace Parkway and discern various ecoregions and/or ecosystems. Compare the Natchez Trace ecoregions with those of other National Parks.



Vocabulary

Biome, abiotic, biotic, ecoregion, ecosystem, landform