Ecology Lab Exploring an Ecosystem

Rated 4.92 out of 5, based on 29 reviews
29 Ratings
Amy Brown Science
Grade Levels
8th - 12th, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • Zip
  • Google Apps™
15 pages
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Amy Brown Science
Includes Google Apps™
The Teacher-Author indicated this resource includes assets from Google Workspace (e.g. docs, slides, etc.).
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In this activity your students will be closely examining an outdoor ecosystem. They will study and analyze the physical features of the ecosystem, the living organisms within the ecosystem, and the interactions between the biotic and abiotic components. Choose to use the traditional printable version, or the paperless, digital Google Apps version.

This resource is perfect for distance learning and for students in 1:1 classrooms.

Click this link to view all of my Digital Resources.

What is included in this resource?

  • Printable and Editable Student lab handouts.
  • Two versions of lab handouts: (a) Paper saving version (3-pages) where students write on their own paper, or (b) a 7-page handout that provides room for student work.
  • Paperless Digital Version for Google Drive, Google Classroom, and/or Microsoft OneDrive
  • Complete and detailed instructions.
  • 8-Page Teacher Guide containing tips, tricks, and suggestions.
  • Complete Answer Key.

Most of our students pay very little attention to their environment. They may frequent a public park or live on a lake or pond, but rarely do they notice the complex web of interactions that are taking place right before their eyes. For these reasons, I find this activity to be very worthwhile and worth the time it takes to complete. Furthermore, a group of 4 or 5 students will have to work very closely together to complete this project. The benefits of group work and the reinforcement of social skills are certainly life lessons that will be utilized long after the subject matter is forgotten.

I use this lab when teaching my unit on Ecosystems. It is the perfect activity to use with my PowerPoint and Notes on Ecosystems.


  • The student will survey an ecosystem to map out the physical characteristics of the land and to identify the living organisms that inhabit the ecosystem.
  • The student will describe and analyze the various relationships that exist within the ecosystem.

Materials List:

  • One outdoor ecosystem
  • Poster board or single sheet of white paper
  • Colored markers
  • 4 Stakes
  • String
  • Meter stick
  • Magnifying glass (Hand Lens)

This lab project is very easy to set up and very easy to clean up. No fancy materials are required, and yet, I find this to be one of the best labs that I use with my biology students. Students will carry out a very detailed study of a 5m x 5m outdoor ecosystem. Students will identify the living organisms in their ecosystem and answer a detailed set of 29 questions designed to prompt students to make good observations. Students will make food chains and food webs using the organisms in their ecosystem. Students look for abiotic factors, biotic factors, evidence of competition, camouflage, predator/prey relationships, limiting factors, etc.

This lab is appropriate for students in grades 8 - 12. The experiment and collection of data is easily completed by students in these grades. The differentiation in ability levels comes in the analysis questions. For younger students, it may be necessary to omit some of the analysis questions. Student handouts are completely editable to meet your needs.

Related Products Include:

Ecosystems and the Biosphere: Energy Flow and the Recycling of Matter PowerPoint with Notes for Teacher and Student

Food Chains and Food Webs Activity

Ecosystems Task Cards

Ecosystems Homework Bundle of 5 Assignments

Ecosystems - Energy Flow and the Recycling of Matter Quiz Bundle

Ecosystems Crossword Puzzle

Energy Flow and the Recycling of Matter Review Questions and Answers

Ecosystems Unit Test

Introduction to Ecology Complete Unit Bundle

Population Ecology Complete Unit Bundle

Community Ecology Complete Unit Bundle

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Total Pages
15 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
3 hours
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9–10 texts and topics.


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