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4.1: Planning

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Key Ideas

  • The flow of energy in a community can take many interrelated paths.
  • The amount of useful energy decreases at each step.


In the previous section students learned about the flow of energy within a simple food chain. This section expands on the concept of a simple food chain by exploring how food chains interconnect to form complex food webs. In this section, students explore how energy flows through a food web by classifying the role of each organism in the web. They will learn about the interdependence of organisms in a food web by analyzing diagrams and playing the part of an organism in a simulation.



\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} explain how organisms are interdependent within a food web.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} identify the roles of producers, consumers, and decomposers.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} identify what happens in a food web if an organism is removed.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} explain how the energy from the sun flows between organisms in a food web.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} explain how an energy pyramid demonstrates the loss of energy as it is transferred up from one level to the next higher level.


biological community, calorie, carnivore, consumer, decomposer, ecological pyramid, food web, herbivore, human community, omnivore, producer

Student Materials

Activity 3-1: Classifying the Players in a Willow Forest

Per student

  • Activity Report
  • Resource

Per class

  • 6 sets of colored marking pens, pencils, or crayons

Teacher Materials

Activity 3-1: Classifying the Players in a Willow Forest

  • Activity Report Answer Key

Advance Preparation

See Activity 3-1 in the Student Edition.

Activity 3-1: Classifying Players in a Willow Forest

  • Prepare copies of Resource and Activity Report for the class.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Social Studies Examine the roles and players in social community and compare them to the roles and players in a biological community.

Enrichment Activities

Enrichment 3-1: Food Web Game

Students learn about the interdependent relationships in a food web by researching and drawing a food web focused on one organism and playing the part of that organism in the class' model of a food web. See four actual food web communities in the Background Information section.

Enrichment 3-2: The Energy Game

Students learn about the transfer and loss of energy along a food chain by playing a tag-like game whose object is to gather energy in order to survive and reproduce.

  • Obtain 400 white, 90 blue, and 10 red poker chips for a class of 30 students.
  • Select an outdoor area for the “habitat” in which to conduct the activity.

Background Information

The following references are excellent sources for examples of some different food webs used in Enrichment 3-1 Resources:

Niering, W A. 1963. Caroline Islands, Ecology Monographs. 33: 131-160.

Naumov, N. P. 1972. The Ecology of Animals. Norman Levine, ed. University of Illinois Press, Champaign, Illinois, p. 549.

Bird, R. D. 1930. “Biotic communities of the aspen parkland of central Canada.” Ecology 11: 356-442.

Teal, J. M. 1962. “Energy flow in the salt marsh ecosystem of Georgia.” Ecology 43: 614-624.

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