Food chain of the mountain ecosystem
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A food chain is a series organized by living beings linked by an alimentary relationship. The animal takes its necessary energy for survival from its food.
At the base of this chain are the producers. They are the terrestrial or aquatic (algae, phytoplankton) vegetation. They make their own organic materials from nutrients, CO2 and from light (photosynthesis).
The animals situated just above the producers are the first level consumers: the herbivores.
They are the prey of the second level consumers: the carnivores.
A carnivore that does not have predators is called the top predator and is situated at the top of the chain.
The arrow signifies "...is eaten by...". A food chain is made up of links that can be a part of other chains as well.
The ensemble of all these chains makes a food network
Note: This animation omits the role of the decomposers. They are the organisms and microorganisms that degrade dead organic materials (waste, dead plants and animals). They provide most of the recycled nutrients from the producers.
In the "Ecosystem" tab, click and slide each living being towards its name.
In the "Food Chain" tab, slide an arrow over a living being and click on an animal that it consumes.
Click on the "Verify" button to validate your choices. There are 20 correct arrows to place.
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- Recoginze the animals and plants of the mountain ecosystem
- Discover the food relationships between living beings (chains and food networks)
- Know how to indicate the direction of circulation of the material ("is eaten by")
Guide - Download
Ask the class to define the terms "prey" and "predator". Do this by an example and a phrase ("the predator eats the prey").
You can ask the child to draw an example onto his sheet of paper.
The teacher defines the predator/prey relationship using one of the examples from the class. He/she explains the close relationship between a prey and his predator and introduces the notion of the food chain. He/she illustrates the action of eating by an arrow between the two organisms. The arrow signifies "..is eaten by..".
The prey can also be the predator of another living organism, or can use plants to nourish itself. The teacher can invite the class to complete the food chain up to four or five links without forgetting to add the arrows between links. The terms "producer", "herbivore", "carnivore", "top predator" are defined.
The teacher shows the organization of everything together to the class and explains in an interactive exercise to deepen the understanding of each term and application of the main ideas.
The teacher can approach the idea of the food network (it is made up of many chains from one ecosystem) and also the fragile equilibrium that exists. He can ask the class what the effect is if a predator dissappears. The animations food chain or food network can be pertinent.
To conclude, the teacher can open other paths of reflexion:
- Notion of engery: "why does the animal eat another animal (or plant)?": to nourish itself, it supplies itself with the energy to survive.
- The animations presented ignore certain abiotic factors (light, CO2, humus for plant growth, humidity, wind, temperature, water quality...). Also, the existence of decomposers should be mentioned.