This WebQuest is designed for students to take an in-depth look at Ecosystems. The students will be designing imaginary organisms, giving them names, niches, and existence to show the relationships that are evident in all ecosystems. The ecosystem will then undergo an environmental disturbance of the students' choosing. They will then create an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) describing the expected effects of the disturbance. Students need to state the problems that will be caused and the best ways to prevent them or keep them to a minimum.

Each group will hand in descriptions of their organisms and ecosystem including before and after pictures along with their EIR. They will also hand in a food webs and ecological pyramids showing the relationships between their organisms.

You may work alone, or with no more than two other students.

Task: Create Life...

You will be designing a creative but functional ecosystem incorporating all the relationships and parts of ecosystems. You must design organisms on each trophic level and show the interactions between your organisms, and their interactions with the environment.

This ecosystem will be affected by a disturbance of your choosing. You will be required to state the changes and come up with a plan to mitigate these effects.

Process and Components:
1. As a group, choose and describe a habitat for your ecosystem. This can be anywhere. Be creative! It does not need to be a real place...for example you can make up a new planet or even use your bedroom or locker! Don't pick an old stand-by like "generic grassy field" or "Massachusetts forest." Be sure to describe:

A. location

B. climate (average temperatures, rainfall, etc.)

C. topography (mountains, hills, valleys, etc.)
2. You will be required to create a few of the following: (Divide up the organisms among the group, if you're working in one. There should be at least 3 organisms from each different trophic levels- for a total of 15)

A. Producer

B. Primary Consumer (Herbivore)

C. Secondary Consumer (Carnivore)

D. Tertiary Consumer

E. Decomposer
3. Design all 15 organisms. Make sure you explain all of the following:

A. physical characteristics (describe & draw)

B. range & distribution (where in the ecosystem does it live)

C. population size

D. reproductive behavior (live young, eggs, mating rituals, care of offspring, etc.)

E. nutritional requirements

F. niche description (esp. position in the food web)

G. sensitivity to environmental factors

H. any symbiotic relationships with other organisms within the ecosystem

*Make sure your organisms can survive in the habitat!
4. Put it all together! Show the entire ecosystem including organisms. Draw a picture showing where all of these organisms live within your ecosystem. Make sure you check your work to be sure that it all makes sense together.

You can draw by hand and scan in your images or use computer generated images made in Inspiration, Excel, Word, or drawing/paint/art generator programs.
5. How does it work? Put together a food web and ecological pyramids (numbers pyramid and energy pyramid) to show the interactions that will occur in your ecosystem.
6. Now that we have created a beautiful ecosystem, we are going to create a disturbance. The disturbance can be either man-made, natural, or a combination of the two. You choose. Be creative! (Please do not choose anything that would kill off ALL organisms, some part of the ecosystem should be able to survive the disturbance)
7. Identify the effect of the disturbance on each of the species in the ecosystem. Use the list below to help you make the following decisions:

A. Extinct: species are completely destroyed

B. Endangered: Species are in great danger of going extinct

C. Threatened: species are in great danger of becoming endangered but not extinct

D. No expected change: number of species in ecosystem will remain the same

E. Increased: number of species will increase
8. Write an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Report the changes that you expect to see in your ecosystem. Give methods for mitigation or correcting the changes and restoring the ecosystem. This report should be 3-4 pages double spaced in 12 point font. Be sure to include effects on the physical environment as well as every organism. Be sure to explain and give methods that might mitigate or repair the ecosystem back to the conditions before the disaster.

To Be Handed In checklist:
  • 15 organisms (3 of each trophic level) with pictures and descriptions
  • Picture of Ecosystem with organisms in it
  • Food Web
  • Ecological Pyramids (Numbers & Energy)
  • Description of Disturbance
  • Picture of Ecosystem after disturbance
  • Environmental Impact Report