Our environment tends to remain constant so long as it is not disturbed. However, what happens when either a new habitat forms or a disturbance occurs? Ecological succession is nature’s attempt to make a habitat that is diversify or repair a damaged habitat. But what are the different types of succession?
Primary succession usually occurs after the formation of a new, unoccupied habitat. While, secondary succession usually occurs after the some form of disturbance to an existing community. A community is a group of organisms of different kinds all interacting with one another. One must remember that each group is a population of organisms of the same type.
Each community will have organisms representing the different trophic levels (producers, primary consumers (herbivores), secondary consumers (carnivores), etc.). There will also be effective transfer of biomass and energy within the system.
What is the result of ecological succession? The end result of the succession process is a stable group of plants and animals. Succession follows the same basic process whether primary succession or secondary succession: lichens, mosses & ferns, grasslands and then complex communities. A complex community does not always mean big trees – it means a species rich and species diverse environment.
By the end of this activity, the student should be able to demonstrate an understanding that (a) mankind can make a disturbance in the environment through simple or complex actions (b) organism will reproduce and increase in number given sufficient nutrients and time, (c) first producers will increase in number followed by consumers in what is typical of predator-prey relationships, and (d) eventually, given enough time an environment will return to a state of balance known as a complex community.
In addition to the concepts described and followed in the activity, the students get to prolonged experience using microscopes over extended time; thereby increasing proficiency and excitement as they discover moving insects and larva.
Honestly, my students have loved the moments where the “gross” becomes visible under the microscope. The most commotion and excitement comes when they discover something “swimming”. The more disgusting the pond water the better the data.
TIME REQUIRED: 15 minutes to explain (or re-explain) how to use microscopes, 30-40 minutes at least two more session over several days, and then 30-40 minutes to answer follow-up questions and graph.
ADDITIONAL SUPPLIES NEEDED: microscopes, containers to hold water, leaves, “fresh” water (could be sewer or run-off), microscope slides and coverslips, pipettes.
The folder above represents a collection of curricular ideas for teaching. It is 100% FULLY EDITABLE You will find a several high quality teacher's guide, student version of handouts, micro-organism identification sheet, and grading rubric.
This curriculum aligns with The Next Generation Science Standards.