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Wildlife Population

Keywords: Population, home range, carrying capacity, habitat; Grade Level: Grades 5-6; Total Time Required: Seven 35-minute class periods; Setting: Classroom, Outdoors (Yellow Creek State Park)

Goals/Objectives for the Lesson

  • Students will comprehend that populations of organisms are affected by elements of their environment.
  • Students will observe that populations of animals do not stay at the same number year after year.
  • Students will understand the importance of suitable habitat and how factors may affect wildlife populations.

Materials Needed

State Standards Addressed:
Environment and Ecology, Ecosystems and their Interactions 4.6.7A
Science and Technology, Biological Science 3.3.7D

Subjects Covered: Science

Topics Covered: Population, home range, carrying capacity, habitat

Teaching Model:  Direct instruction

Methods/Procedure

In preparation for field trip to Yellow Creek State Park:

1.  Read and discuss 4-H booklet - Wildlife Is All Around Us: Book 1
The Wildlife Detective.
2.  Review. Give quiz. (See attachment “Wildlife is All Around Us Quiz #1”)
3.  Read and discuss 4-H booklets – Wildlife Is All Around Us: Book 2 Spring and Wildlife Is All Around Us: Book 3 Summer.
4.  Review.  Give quiz.  (See attachment “Wildlife Is All Around Us Quiz 2-3”)
5.  Read and discuss 4-H booklet – The Wildlife Ecologist: Intermediate Unit Book 1.
6.  To differentiate instruction, supplement discussion about deer population with information from page 18 of 4-H booklet - Advancing in Forestry (Regeneration protection)
7.  Play “Oh Deer!” during Outdoor Day at Yellow State Park

  • Review vocabulary terms
    • Population – a group of organisms of one kind that live in the same area
    • Home range – the area where a population of animals usually forage for food
    • Carrying Capacity – greatest number of organisms of one kind that can survive in an area
  • Review components of a habitat essential for survival
    • Food
    • Water
    • Shelter
    • Sufficient space 
  • Discuss limiting factors that affect the ability of wildlife to reproduce and maintain their population
    • Disease
    • Predator/Prey relationship
    • Weather conditions, such as early freezing, flooding, heavy snow, drought
    • Accidents
    • Pollution
    • Habitat destruction
    • Availability of food, water, shelter, and space
  • Explain that wildlife populations constantly fluctuate in response to limiting factors
  • Have students count off by four’s. The one’s will be the deer; they walk to one side of the field. The two’s, three’s, and four’s will be either food, water, or shelter; they walk to the opposite side of the field.  The two groups form parallel lines to each other approximately 20 yards apart. 
  • Place a set of identical color-coded cards with each group.  For example, the food cards could be green with the word food written on the cards, the water cards could be blue and labeled water, and the labeled, shelter cards could be brown.
  • The open field represents sufficient space for the animal’s survival; this game emphasizes the search for food, water, and shelter.  The one’s who are “deer” need a good habitat to survive the season and be able to reproduce.  Each “deer” will select a card that represents what they need to survive.
  • The two’s, three’s, and four’s are will choose a card to represent themselves as one of the components of habitat.  Each student chooses, at the beginning of each round, which component he or she will be during the round.
  • The game begins with all players lined up on their respective line with their backs to the opposite team. 
  • The teacher begins that first round by having both teams select a card with their backs to each other. 
  • When students are ready, count and yell, “One. . . two. . . three. . go!” At the count of three, each “deer” and habitat component turn to face the opposite group as they hold up their cards. On “GO”, the deer look for and run to the habitat component that they need.  (Students must display their cards; they cannot hide them in their pockets.)  Of course, the habitat components are encouraged to run and try to escape, but when they are tagged (not tackled) they must accompany the deer to their side of the field.  
  • Each deer that finds the food, water, or shelter that they were searching for must bring that student back to the deer line.  This represents that the deer successfully met its needs and reproduced, which would increase the population.  
  • If the deer fails to find its food, water, or shelter, it does not survive; it dies and becomes part of the habitat.  For the next round, that deer must join the line of habitat components.
  • The teacher will record the “deer” population on a line chart or announce the number of deer each season.
  • The students should observe that a small herd of deer was able to meet their needs very easily.  The population expanded over two or three rounds until the habitat was depleted and there was not sufficient food, water, or shelter for all the members.  Deer starved or died of thirst or lack of shelter, and they returned as part of the habitat.
  • Students in the line of habitat components may come up with the idea to not permit anyone in their line to select the water card.  As a result, many deer die.  This could represent a drought period for the deer. 

Evaluation

  • Teacher-made quiz for 4-H Wildlife Is All Around Us: Book 1 (see attachment)
  • Teacher-made quiz for 4-H Wildlife Is All Around Us: Book 2-3 (see attachment)
  • Discussion with students/observation of class activities

Literature/Sources Cited

Hansen, Robert S., Sanford S. Smith, and James C. Finley (1999). Advancing in Forestry. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University.

OH DEER! (1985). Project Wild. Western Regional Environmental Education Council publication

Williams, Lisa M., Margaret C. Brittingham, and Sanford S. Smith. (2001). The Wildlife Ecologist: Intermediate Unit Book 1 University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University.

Youngfleish, Kristi L., and Margaret Brittingham. Wildlife Is All Around Us: Book 1 The Wildlife Detective.  University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University.

Youngfleish, Kristi L., and Margaret Brittingham. Wildlife Is All Around Us: Book 2 Spring. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University.

Youngfleish, Kristi L., and Margaret Clark Brittingham. Wildlife Is All Around Us: Book 3 Summer. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University.

Author

Christine King - Purchase Line South Elementary - Grade 6