After watching the program with students, review the terms below.
Ask students to describe how muskoxen, slugs, and the lungworm parasite make up a food chain. ( The parasite lives in the slug. When the muskoxen eat grass, they also eat the slugs living in it. ) How does this food chain endanger the muskoxen? ( The lungworm gets passed to the muskoxen and infecting them. )
Tell students that they will examine different food chains that make up the Arctic food web. Ask them to consider the organisms featured in the program. Write their answers on the board, and make sure the list includes the following organisms:
|arctic tern||polar bear|
Ask students to name the organism that makes up the foundation of the Arctic food web. (phytoplankton) Next, tell them that, working with a partner, they will devise at least three food chains from the list above. Each food chain should include at least three organisms and show directly links only, each organism to be followed by its predator. (Example: Arctic cod > ringed seal > polar bear)
Students may refer to the program or find information about Arctic wildlife at the following sites:
Canada's Arctic: Animals
Arctic Mission: Wildlife Articles
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (National Park Service)
Animal Info Books (Beluga Whale, Polar Bear, Walrus)
Enchanted Learning: Arctic Animals (for younger students)
When students have completed their food chains, explain that will share their food chains to create a food web that shows connections among Arctic organisms. Examples follow:
phytoplankton > zooplankton > arctic cod
phytoplankton > zooplankton > bowhead whale
arctic cod > ringed seal (or walrus) > polar bear
clams (or crabs) > walrus > polar bear
phytoplankton > zooplankton > bowhead whale
zooplankton (copepods) > arctic cod > ringed seal (or seabird, narwhal, beluga whale)
zooplankton > arctic cod > thick-billed murres
phytoplankton > zooplankton > arctic tern
algae > copepods > arctic cod
To create the food web, write "phytoplankton" on the bottom of the classroom board. Ask students to share food chains that include phytoplankton. Write the name of the organism that eats phytoplankton above it on the food chain. Above that organism, write the name of the organism that eats it and draw an arrow from predator to prey. Every time you add a new organism, ask students to share their food chains that include that organism. Keep building the web until all students have contributed. When you're done, ask students if they can make additional connections. One part of your food web might look like this:
Now ask students to talk about how sea ice fits in this food web. ( Sea ice is the primary habitat for many species; for example, it is the primary hunting ground for polar bears. ) Then ask students to name ways that global warming is threatening this web. ( Global warming melts sea ice. Warmer temperatures are disrupting breeding and feeding cycles. ) Why is the Arctic food web fragile and susceptible to climate change? ( It does not have the diversity that other webs have. )
Definition: A hierarchy of organisms where each member eats the one below it
Context: In one Arctic food chain, polar bears hunt seals, which eat cod, which eat smaller fish, which, in turn, eat plankton.
Definition: All the connected or linked food chains within an ecological community
Context: The Arctic food web lacks diversity, which makes it much fragile and vulnerable to climate changes.
Definition: Microscopic single-celled plants that drift in ocean currents
Context: Phytoplankton is the foundation of the food web for Arctic animals.
Definition: A layer of ice formed from seawater; it changes with seasons and floats on the ocean, carried by winds and currents
Context: Sea ice is the primary habitat for many Arctic species.
Definition: Microscopic animals that float in the ocean
Context: Zooplankton can be single-celled animals, tiny crustaceans such as copepods, or other marine animals in a larval stage.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of the NCSS, or to view the standards online, go tohttp://www.socialstudies.org.
This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standard: