Science
Strand III
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Life Sciences in Real-World Contexts

 

Science/Strand III
Content Standard 5
All students will explain how parts of an ecosystem are related and how they interact; explain how energy is distributed to living things in an ecosystem; investigate and explain how communities of living things change over a period of time; describe how materials cycle through an ecosystem and get reused in the environment; and analyze how humans and the environment interact. (Ecosystems)

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 5
Middle School

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 5/Middle School
Benchmark 4
Describe the likely succession of a given ecosystem over time.

Benchmark Clarification

Ecosystems change gradually over time. These changes follow a predictable pattern called ecological succession. The pattern begins with a pioneer species and ends with a climax community. This pattern can be observed in ponds, abandoned fields, barren rocks, sand dunes, and forests.

Students will:

  • Describe the pattern of predictable stages that a Given ecosystem undergoes.

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 5/Middle School/Benchmark 4
Key Concept

  • succession
  • stages
  • climax community
  • pioneer species

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 5/Middle School/Benchmark 4
Real World Context
Process of gradual change in ecological systems, such as in ponds or abandoned farm fields

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 5/Middle School/Benchmark 4
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: How do communities of living things change over time?

Focus Question: What evidence of succession can you observe in your community?

Using videos, pictures, field trips, or other suitable resources, students will view examples of forests or grasslands showing the stages of succession:

  • Areas that have been burned recently
  • Areas burned ten or more years ago
  • Areas not burned in recorded history

Pairs of students will identify examples of plant communities in different stages of succession. Students should look for the following stages of succession:

  • Grasses and non-woody plants only
  • Grasses, woody, and non-woody plants
  • Grasses and shrubs, with young tree saplings (stem less than 1/2")
  • Ground vegetation and young trees (stem 1/2" - 2")
  • Mature trees (stem 2") can still be under canopy

Next, each pair of students will draw a flowchart showing the stages of succession that were observed.

(Extension: Students can explore other examples of succession:

  • Pond succession
  • Plowed field left undisturbed
  • Barren rock in a lava flow
  • Natural disasters such as the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption and controlled burn mishaps in Yellowstone National Park)

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.MS.1), (SCI.I.1.MS.4), (SCI.I.1.MS.6).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.MS.2), (SCI.II.1.MS.3), (SCI.II.1.MS.5).

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 5/Middle School/Benchmark 4
Assessment Example

Each student will work with a partner to draw a storyboard of the stages of succession in a specific ecosystem of their choice. Possible choices may include terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems — farm fields, beaches, sand dunes, fence rows, barren rocks, abandoned wetlands, ponds, or lakes. Students will research this ecosystem. They will illustrate their research using a flow chart, diorama, 3-D display, or multimedia presentation. The project should illustrate the likely stages of succession of a given ecosystem from a pioneer species to a climax community. They will present their project to another class.

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric

Criteria

Apprentice

Basic

Meets

Exceeds

Accuracy of sequence

Illustrates no successional stages from pioneer to climax communities.

Illustrates a few successional stages from pioneer to climax communities.

Illustrates most successional stages from pioneer to climax communities.

Illustrates detailed successional stages from pioneer to climax communities.

Quality of content

Includes few details and lists few organisms.

Includes some details and lists different organisms.

Includes important details and lists different organisms.

Includes many additional details and lists a diverse variety of organisms.

 

Science/Strand III/Content Standard 5/Middle School/Benchmark 4
Resources

Ecosystems.
http://www.si.edu/nsrc/

“Fire Ecologies.” PROJECT WILD.
http://www.projectwild.org/

“Forest in a Jar.” PROJECT WILD.
http://www.projectwild.org/

http://www.educationalimages.com/sx050006.htm

Magnificent Micro-World Adventures. AIMS.
http://wwws.aimsedu.org/aimscatalog/default.tpl

“Nothing Succeeds Like Succession.” PROJECT LEARNING TREE.
http://www.affoundation.org/PLT/