The Desert Menu

Patterns across ecosystems; predator-prey relationships, symbiosis, trophic levels, biomass, balance, niche
105 minutes (7 15-minute quests)

It's an exciting time at Tyto: a new biodome is going to be built, and YOU get to help design it! Students learn about predator/prey relationships, niches, trophic levels, and symbiosis as they design an ecosystem that will be able to support an apex predator like a cougar.

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Standards Covered

MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem. MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.

Anchoring Phenomena & Topics Covered

Patterns across ecosystems; predator-prey relationships, symbiosis, trophic levels, biomass, balance, niche

Real World Connections

Students completing this storyline may be interested to see how the organisms within their local ecosystem interact and which relationships and niches exist within them.

Teacher Guide

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A Brand-New Biodome

Students are asked to help Tyto build a new biodome based on the Mojave desert! The only stipulation is that it must contain cougars. What does a cougar need to thrive...?

Top-Shelf Consumers

Students must use mathematical reasoning to predict how much food their cougars will need to eat in a year. And, of course, they'll need to choose a prey source that can survive in the desert. But what will *those* animals eat?!

A Little Competition

Students have to quickly revise their plans to accommodate a second predator! Students collect data by visiting various biodomes, including the tundra, to observe what happens when more than one predator is sharing a niche. Can they create a balanced ecosystem where all organisms can thrive?

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