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Teaching Ecology Post 4: Community Ecology

NOW it is getting interesting!!

In my trek through the world of ecology with my biology 1 students, I suffer a bit through the first few units.  If you have read my previous posts of the last few days, you know that ecology is not my favorite topic to teach.  I have to dig deep within myself to find the enthusiasm to teach about the beginning, that is.  Once I get to the unit on Community Ecology, things definitely get much more interesting!!

A community is ALL of the living organisms found in a particular area. These organisms interact with one another and have powerful influences upon the other species as well as the entire ecosystem.  Consider the introduction of beaver into an area that is normally a "flowing-water" ecosystem.  Beaver would have a huge impact on this community. Recently I received feedback from a teacher that said my PowerPoints were very "visual" and that this had been a big help in teaching his students.   Here's a peak at a few of the slides in my "Community Ecology" unit.

Topics covered in this lesson are:
1. Community Interactions: Definition of community, types of community interactions such as competition, predation, symbiosis, mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism.
2. Competition: Definition of competition, resource, competitive exclusion principle, character displacement, many examples, resource partitioning, the result of organisms having identical niches.
3. Predation: Definition, examples, predator, prey, the role of natural selection, adaptations found in predators, adaptations found in prey, mimicry, adaptations found in plants and herbivores.
4. Symbiosis: Definition of symbiosis, types of symbiosis, mutualism, commensalism, parasitism, examples of each.
5. Properties of Communities: Species richness and diversity, definition of species richness, definition of species diversity, the species-area effect, the result of habitat destruction.
6. Succession: Disturbances, definition and examples of disturbances, types of succession, primary succession, examples of primary succession, secondary succession, examples of secondary succession, pioneer species, climax communities.
7. Succession in a Marine Ecosystem: A Whale-Fall Community.

Now this is subject matter that will be of interest to a biology student!  Start showing pictures of parasitic worms, blood sucking insects, and predator-prey relationships, and students will wake up and take an interest.  

I hope this gives you a few ideas.  But most importantly.....


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