Lesson Plan

To Eat or Be Eaten

Elk grazing in the grass

William W. Dunmire

Bull elk

Overall Rating

 
Add your review
Close
  • Source Authority, Credibility and Authenticity

     
  • Addresses Curriculum Standards

     
  • Clarity, Structure and Readability

     
  • Ease of Use

     
  • Creativity and Innovation

     
Grade Level:
Third Grade-Eighth Grade
Subject:
Biology: Animals, Biology: Plants, Ecology, Wildlife Biology
Group Size:
Up to 36
Setting:
outdoors
National/State Standards:
WY Grade 4 Science: 1.5, 2.1, 2.2
WY Grade 8 Science: 1.4, 2.2
Next Generation Science Standards: K-LS1-1., K-ESS3-1.

Overview

In “To Eat or Be Eaten,” students demonstrate energy transfer and connections between plants and animals.

Objective(s)

  • Show the relationship between animals and plants in the food chain
  • Explain the importance of a healthy food chain/web/cycle
  • State the connections between predators, prey, and plants

Background

All living things, plants and animals, are connected as parts of a food chain. Some members of the food chain are producers, providing food for other organisms. Other members are consumers of those producers. Knowledge of the interrelationships and interdependencies of living things is important.

Procedure

Park Connections

Though visitors to Yellowstone often have a favorite animal or location in the park, it is important to realize that all living things are connected in their environment and that a healthy ecosystem includes ALL of its native components. The interdependence and connectedness of all things means that when one species is threatened, often many others will be as well.

This “web of life” activity demonstrates the cascade of issues surrounding the population decline of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout due to the introduction of non-native lake trout in Yellowstone Lake. Many other species can be affected by the decline in cutthroat trout since they spawn in streams and swim closer to the surface than lake trout. Many wildlife species prey on cutthroat but may not be able to switch to catching lake trout because lake trout swim in deeper waters.

Extensions

Lead a group discussion or ask students to state why they think park managers reintroduced the grey wolf to the park after they had been intentionally exterminated decades earlier. What other animal and plant species may have been affected when wolves were absent from the park ecosystem for 60 years? What species may be affected by the return of a predator such as the wolf?

What might happen if grizzly bears became extinct?
What might happen if the climate becomes markedly warmer and drier or weather patterns change drastically enough to alter plant communities and fire seasons?

Vocabulary

producer, consumer, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore