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

PLAN

Summary Students learn the basic ecological roles within a food web and their connection to each other by classifying the organisms in a willow forest food web. They classify the organisms in the willow forest food web as herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore.

Objectives

Students:

\checkmark identify the roles of producers, consumers, herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores in a food web.

\checkmark explain how organisms are interdependent within the food web.

\checkmark analyze a food web to find out what would happen if an organism or entire role was removed.

Student Materials

Per student

  • Resource
  • Activity Report
  • Colored marking pens, pencils, or crayons

Per class

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

Teacher Materials

  • Activity Report Answer Key

Advance Preparation

Copy enough Resource Sheets and Activity Reports for the class.

Estimated Time

Approximately 20 minutes

Prerequisites and Background Information

Students should know the meaning of the terms producer, consumer, herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore. You might want to take a few minutes to review with students what these different types of organisms are.

Extend Activity 3-1 by having students use field guides of local flora and fauna to construct a possible food web. Then students can classify the organisms. Guide students in analyzing what each creature eats and labeling each organism as a producer, herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore.

Helpful Hints

A good way to make sure students understand a system or process is to ask them what would happen if a part of the system were removed. In the case of the willow forest food web the removal of the frog would have dramatic effects. According to the willow forest diagram the frog is the only predator for snails. So if the frog were removed, the snail population would increase dramatically. The frog is also the only food source for the snake. So the snake population would migrate or die out. If one kind of willow tree were removed, the changes to the willow forest food web would be subtler. Every organism that eats the willow tree, Salix petiolaris, has other food sources available. But with their food source options reduced these insects have less chance of surviving the winter, blight, or other natural disasters. You can use this example to discuss direct and indirect consequences of the many human activities that remove parts of a food web.

IMPLEMENT

Introduce Activity 3-1 by reviewing with students the terms producer, consumer, herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore.

Steps 1-3 Have students follow the instructions for Activity 3-1 as they explore the food web on Activity 3-1 Resource that illustrates a willow forest food web.

Steps 4-5 Once students have classified all the organisms in the food web, conduct small group or whole class discussions about the questions in Steps 4 and 5 of the Procedure.

Extend Activity 3-1 by having students use field guides of local flora and fauna to construct a possible food web. Then students can classify the organisms, analyzing and labeling each as a producer, consumer, carnivore, or omnivore.

ASSESS

Use the lists of the “players” in the willow forest produced by students and responses to the Activity Report to assess if students can

\checkmark differentiate between and among producers and consumers, herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.

\checkmark explain the interrelationships between the organisms in the food web.

\checkmark demonstrate and describe the consequences of removing a major and/or minor “player” in the willow forest system.

Activity 3-1: Classifying the Players in a Willow Forest – Activity Report Answer Key

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.
  1. Describe what would happen to the members of the willow forest food web if all the frogs left or died out.
  2. Describe what would happen to the willow forest food web if one type of willow tree was cut down and removed from the forest.

Review Questions/Answers

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.
  1. What is a producer?
  2. What is a consumer?
  3. What happens to useful energy when it is transformed from one form to another?
  4. What happens to the energy in an organism when that organism is eaten by another organism?
  5. Draw an ecological pyramid using producers, herbivores, and carnivores.

Activity 3-1 Resource: Classifying the Players in a Willow Forest (Student Reproducible)

Activity 3-1 Report: Classifying the Players in a Willow Forest (Student Reproducible)

1. Describe what would happen to the members of the willow forest food web if all the frogs left or died out.

2. Describe what would happen to the willow forest food web if one type of willow tree was cut down and removed from the forest.

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