Lesson Plan

Wetland Habitat on the Trace

Passion flower plant found at Rock Spring
Flowering plant found on Rock Spring Nature Trail, Milepost 330.3

NPS Photo

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Grade Level:
Ninth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Aquatic Studies, Biodiversity, Biology: Animals, Biology: Plants, Botany, Earth Science, Ecology, Environment, Landscapes, Recreation Ecology, Science and Technology, Wildlife Biology, Wildlife Management
1 hour in classroom, 2 hours in field
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Core Standards: MS Biology I Competency/Obj 3b
wetlands, aquatic resources, watershed, biology, swamps, slough, Beaver dam, beaver pond, drainage, marsh, bog, wetland, swamp


The students will be visiting a National Scenic Trail and identifying the plants and animals found in wetlands.  In the classroom, students will become familiar with the term wetlands and discuss the role that each organism plays in a wetland ecosystem.


Enduring Understanding: Wetlands have an ecological importance to the environment.

Essential Question: How do wetlands affect local ecology?

Biology I: Investigate and evaluate the interaction between living organisms and their environment. 3b. Provide examples to justify the interdependence among environmental elements. Biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem Energy flow in ecosystems Interrelationships among organisms

For the complete lesson plan, please email natr_education@nps.gov or call 1-800-305-7417. Please indicate whether or not you need an accessible lesson plan.


The students will visit a National Scenic Trail and identify the plants and animals found in wetlands. In the classroom, students will become familiar with the term wetlands and discuss the role that each organism plays in a wetland ecosystem. What are wetlands? According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, wetlands are defined as "lands where saturation with water is the dominant factor determining the nature of soil development and the types of plant and animal communities living in the soil and on its surface."

Field guides being used:

"The Vascular Flora of the Natchez Trace Parkway", February 2008: www. nps.gov Kirkman, Katherine L, Donald J. Leopold and Claud L. Brown.

Native Trees of the Southeast: An Identificaton Guide. Timber Press, Inc. 2007. Watts, May Theilgaard.

Tree Finder: A Manual for Identification of Trees by their Leaves. Nature Study Guild Publishers. 1963. Cox, Donald and Shirley A. Peron (illustrator).

A Naturalist's Guide to Wetland Plants: An Ecology for Eastern North America. Syracuse University, Press. 2002. Watts, May Theilgaard and Tom Watts.

Winter Tree Finder, Vol. 1. Nature Study Guild Publisher. 1970. Conant, Roger, Joseph T. Collins, Isabelle Hunt Conant and Tom R. Johnson.

A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guide Series). Third Edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1998.


Each student will need a notebook, pencil, and a field guide for plants and animals (see resources).



The student participated in the activity: the student has made a list of species he/she identified on the field trip using the field guide

Park Connections

The Natchez Trace Parkway contains many different wetlands, including parts of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail. Many different plant and animal species are located in these wetlands.


Use wetlands as an example of an ecological niche, and describe community interactions within a wetland. Discuss how a wetland is an ecosystem and the energy flow it facilitates.

Additional Resources

Some trails on the Natchez Trace Parkway that contain wetlands:

Cypress Swamp at mp 122.0

Riverbend Multi-use trail at mp 122.6

Myrick Creek at mp 145.1

Cole Creek at mp 175.6

Donivan Slough at mp 283.3

Rock Spring at mp 330

There are many others that include access to streams. 


Wetland, ecosystem, community, population, organism

Last updated: January 9, 2018