Connections and Changes in Ecosystems

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Get a bird's-eye view of Earth's biomes and the living and nonliving interactions within their characteristic ecosystems, from extreme dryness in the Atacama Desert to wildfire recovery in Yellowstone. Guide students through an exciting exploration of the connections and changes in ecosystems wrapped up in 5E lesson plans where students investigate through active learning, then apply their new knowledge through content-rich gaming to see which populations change and why.

Leveled Readers are available in four Lexile Measures, distinguished by a color key on the back of each reader.

Lexile Levels
Lexile Measure Range 900-1050
Lexile Measure Range 750-900
Lexile Measure Range 600-750
Lexile Measure Range 450-600

Driving Question

How could humans create an environment to live in on Mars?

Anchor Phenomenon

All the organisms and nonliving factors in an ecosystem are connected in various ways.

  Investigative Phenomena
–Focus Questions
Real-World Phenomena
Lesson 1
Parts of an Ecosystem
Focus Question How do living and nonliving things act together to make up an ecosystem? Real-World Phenomena
  • Ecosystems with extreme conditions have organisms with features that allow them to survive in those conditions.
Lesson 2
Focus Question How do scientists determine the size of a population? Real-World Phenomena
  • Scientists use various counting methods and technologies depending on the kind of organism they are counting.
Lesson 3
Focus Question How do different kinds of organisms live together in the same area? Real-World Phenomena
  • Keystone species such as beavers affect many other populations in their community.
Lesson 4
Focus Question How does the climate of an area affect the kinds of plants that grow there? Real-World Phenomena
  • Biomes are areas with similar climate patterns and similar types of vegetation, and thus characteristic animals.
Lesson 5
Energy in Ecosystems
Focus Question Where does an ecosystem's energy come from, and how does it move through the ecosystem? Real-World Phenomena
  • In an Antarctic Ocean food web, energy from the Sun flows to producers to consumers, and from one consumer to another throughout the ecosystem.
Lesson 6
Nutrient Cycles in Ecosystems
Focus Question How do organisms get nutrients, and how are nutrients recycled in an ecosystem? Real-World Phenomena
  • Nutrients are recycled in ecosystems, which can be demonstrated by a fish and a plant in a simple homemade system.
Lesson 7
Symbiosis: Close Connections
Focus Question What kinds of close connections form between different kinds of organisms in an ecosystem? Real-World Phenomena
  • Symbiotic relationships exist among many unrelated species, and can be helpful to both species, harmful to one or the other, or helpful to one with no effect on the other.
Lesson 8
Focus Question How do ecosystems change over time? Real-World Phenomena
  • The kinds of plants and animals in an ecosystem change naturally over time as the general condition of the ecosystem changes.
Lesson 9
Survival and Extinction
Focus Question How do changes in ecosystems affect the survival of populations? Real-World Phenomena
  • Human activities have endangered populations, such as hairy rattleweed, or caused them to become extinct, such as passenger pigeons.
Lesson 10
Protecting Ecosystems
Focus Question How do human activities affect ecosystems? Real-World Phenomena
  • Conservation efforts in the Florida Everglades are restoring and stabilizing parts of that ecosystem.