Idea for Use in the Classroom

Introduce food chains and food webs to students and go through vocabulary associated with these concepts. Make sure to include terms that describe an organism by what it feeds on (herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore) and the trophic levels (primary producer, primary consumer, secondary consumer, tertiary consumer, and decomposer). Explain how energy from the Sun is harnessed by plants through photosynthesis, and how this energy is then transferred from one organism to another through feeding.

Have students work in small groups to determine whether each animal species in the infographic is an herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore. Then ask students to research the diet of each species to confirm which feeding category into which they fall. Next, have students determine the trophic level of each species in the infographic based on how many steps it takes for energy to be transferred to a species and how many arrows lead to or away from a species. Finally, have students research each species to confirm their trophic level.

Extend this activity by leading a class discussion on the impacts of domestic dogs and cats on a backyard ecosystem. As a class, create a list of impacts on the board. Then sort students into small groups to reseach one of the suspected impacts to see if they are true or false. Then have each team report back to the class with this findings.

 

Noun

organism that eats meat.

decomposer
Noun

organism that breaks down dead organic material.

Noun

community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

Noun

group of organisms linked in order of the food they eat, from producers to consumers, and from prey, predators, scavengers, and decomposers.

Noun

all related food chains in an ecosystem. Also called a food cycle.

Noun

organism that eats mainly plants and other producers.

Noun

organism that eats a variety of organisms, including plants, animals, and fungi.

Noun

process by which plants turn water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide into water, oxygen, and simple sugars.

primary consumer
Noun

organism that eats plants or other autotrophs.

primary producer
Noun

organism that can produce its own food and nutrients from chemicals in the atmosphere, usually through photosynthesis or chemosynthesis. Also called an autotroph.

secondary consumer
Noun

organism that eats meat.

tertiary consumer
Noun

carnivore that mostly eats other carnivores.

trophic level
Noun

one of three positions on the food chain: autotrophs (first), herbivores (second), and carnivores and omnivores (third).