Life Cycle - Natural Environment (3A)
Pre Lab 

   
OBJECTIVES:
  • Comparing the world's biomes. 
  • Locating different ecosystems. 
VOCABULARY:
  • biome
  • ecosystem
  • marine
  • terrestrial
MATERIALS:

Students use an inflatable globe to locate where animals live. 

BACKGROUND:

There are many kinds of ecosystems on this Earth because of the many possible combinations of climate, soil, parent rock, water, temperature, currents, and  biological life.  There are terrestrial, fresh water, and marine  ecosystems.  This activity will concentrate on the terrestrial ecosystems and their biome divisions.  A biome is a large geographical region identified mainly by its vegetation caused by similar climate.  There are a few ways to classify terrestrial biomes.  These lesson will use the following  biome classification used on the inflatable globes.

Tundra - Wet country beyond the timberline in both the Eurasian Arctic and the American Arctic. A treeless, marshy plain with grasses, sedges, lichens, rocks, and water.

Desert - Occupies climates too dry for grasslands. Vegetation consists of widely scattered thorny bushes, perhaps a few succulents such as cacti. Drought is a limiting factor, and can include warm or cold deserts.

Tropical Rain Forest - Plenty of moisture and heat, no drought and no winter.  Great diversity of animals and plants. Best developed in tropical Americas, particularly the Amazon basin in Brazil, in the East Indies and surrounding areas, and lesser extent in Africa.

Forest -  Community of plants and animals in which the most dominant members are a variety of trees. There are many different species of trees that comprise different forest areas. Deciduous forest are those trees that shed their leaves annually.  Coniferous forest have needle-like leaves and are evergreen. 

Prairie/Savanna/Grasslands - Grasslands often dotted with trees or small patches of forest. Some are dry, others are wetter, warm all year round with dry seasons and cool seasons. The drier climates are usually called Savanna and are located in Central America (Pacific coast), Central and East Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia.  Temperate grasslands have more water evenly distributed throughout the year.  Located in Central North America, Eastern Europe, Central and Western Asia, Argentina, and New Zealand.

Mediterranean - Mild, damp winters but hot, dry summers with blue skies and seldom a drop of rain.  Vegetation varies from dense spiny scrub to open grassy woodlands.  Located in southern France, Spain, Portugal, North Africa, Israel, Lebanon, Italy, California, southwestern Australia, Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, and in central Chile.

Mountain Flora and Moorland - High altitude with sparse flora.  Cold all year round, with some thawing. 

Ice/Snow - Areas that are covered by snow all year round.  Vegetation is almost nonexistent.  Organisms are sparse and cold tolerant.   

PROCEDURE:

  1. Discuss with students the different terrestrial biomes described in the “Background” section.  You may want to give students a globe and have them list the biomes on the board and then proceed to define each one.  A biome is a rather broad category with considerable variation around the Earth, but it includes an area of the earth that has similar physical and/or biological characteristics.  The inflatable globe divisions are a blend of the two. 
      
  2. As a homework assignment, have student  find  pictures of different organisms.  These pictures will be needed for the lab.  Students should research where these organisms are from.  For example, if they bring in a picture of a rainforest, make sure they identify where the picture was taken.   In lab, the students will try to figure out where all the organisms belong on the inflatable globe, and try and find organisms that are similar in the same biomes.   You will find out that this is not as easy as it sounds. There are many different divisions of biomes, but it is important for  students to  learn that it is not always cut and dry, the natural world is not as simple as it seems! 

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