Lecture notes for Lesson Plan #2 of Ecosystems Resource Unit.
Allow groups allotted time to check on their SIM Park ecosystem’s progress and
make their next decision based on their discussion of the results from the previous day’s
choice. As mentioned in the last lesson, this allows for incorporation of technology, peer
interaction and inquiry-based learning as they attempt to bring balance to their group
Introduction: Quickly recap yesterdays levels of ecology and then mention how today
we will be starting at one of the lower levels, i.e. the organism-species level.
Brief review on species’ ability to adapt, based on environmental factors, natural
selection, etc. Lead from here into adaptation and that these adaptations often lead to a
species’ niche. Since the unit directly prior will be on species and adaptation, students
should still be fairly familiar with these terms and the review should only take a couple of
A niche is its functional role in the community; like its “job or profession”. Use
myself as an example: I’m a teacher and my niche is to educate students to prepare them
for the world.
Another important term linked with niche is habitat This is where the niche’s
function becomes important. It’s where the species’ lives, or its “address”. For the
example with myself, my habitat would be the school.
As was the case with speciation and adaptation, limiting resources plays a large
part with niche formation and habitat choice. No two species can coexist indefinitely
when they have the same niche and habitat and they use the same limiting resource.
Different niches and habitats allow species to use the same resource, but in different ways
so they can both continue to survive. Returning to example: not all teachers can be
science teachers at the same high school. There are a limited number of jobs and so
many would be out of work. By choosing different schools (or habitats) to teach at, or by
developing different disciplines (or niches) i.e. middle school math, it allows more
individuals to access the same limiting resource (teaching jobs) in different ways so more
Every species’ niche is a critical aspect of a community. For example, if bees did
not pollinate flowers, flowers would die out, not provide food for other animals, etc.
That is why every species within a community is important. Hundreds to millions of
years of evolution have lead to niches that have all species interdependent on both one
another and on their environment and it is this interdependence that ecology is all about.
Assessment (formative): Distribute worksheets to students with enough time to
complete in class or come to instructor if they have questions. Under ideal conditions,
students will have enough time to present their niches to the class. This would be a good
way to incorporate other disciplines and take a multicultural spin. When students present
their roles in their community, the differences between different cultural communities
may be evident and can be discussed. To determine how these roles came into existence
in the first place, students may need to look at sociological, historical or psychological
implications leading up to the niche’s development.