- Big Ideas
- Essential Questions
- Content Outcomes Addressed
- Standards Addressed
- Pre- and Post-Assessment
- Investigation 1: Impact of Human Intervention
- Investigation 2: Land Use in Your Town
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Resources for This Lesson
- Wild and domesticated organisms often compete for resources.
- Human intervention can give domesticated organisms an advantage over wild organisms.
- Human intervention can have an impact on a local ecosystem.
- How does the introduction of domesticated organisms affect an ecosystem?
- What are the larger consequences of animal and plant domestication?
Content Outcomes Addressed
- Students will develop an understanding of the competition between wild and domesticated species and the larger impact of introducing domesticated organisms into an ecosystem.
- Disciplinary Core Ideas: ESS2.E (K-2) (3-5), ESS3.A (K-2) (6-8), ESS3.C (K-2) (3-5) (6-8), LS1.A (K-2) (3-5) (6-8), LS1.C (K-2) (3-5) (6-8) LS3.A (3-5), LS3.B (3-5), LS4.C (K-2)(3-5), LS2.C (3-5), PS3.D (3-5) (6-8)
- Science and Engineering Practices: 1-8
- Crosscutting Concepts: 2, 3, 4
- Reading: RI.1.K, RI.2.K, RI.3.K, RI.4.K, RI.7.K, RI.8.K, RI.10.K, RI.1.1, RI.2.1, RI.3.1, RI.4.1, RI.8.1, RI.10.1, RI.1.2, RI.2.2, RI.3.2, RI.4.2, RI.8.2, RI.10.2, RI.1.3, RI.2.3, RI.3.3, RI.4.3, RI.8.3, RI.9.3, RI.10.3, RI.1.4, RI.2.4, RI.3.4 RI.4.4, RI.5.4, RI.8.4, RI.9.4, RI.10.4, RI.1.5, RI.2.5, RI.3.5, RI.4.5, RI.5.5, RI.6.5, RI.7.5, RI.8.5, RI.9.5, RI.10.5, RI.1.6, RI.2.6, RI.6.6, RI.7.6, RI.8.6, RI.9.6, RI.1.7, RI.2.7, RI.6.7, RI.8.7, RI.9.7, RI.1.8, RI.2.8, RI.6.8, RI.7.8, RI.8.8, RI.9.8
- Writing: W.1.K, W.2.K, W.1.1, W.2.1, W.1.2, W.2.2, W.1.3, W.2.3, W.7.3, W.8.3, W.1.4, W.2.4, W.7.4, W.8.4, W.9.4, W.1.5, W.2.5, W.7.5, W.8.5, W.9.5, W.1.6, W.4.6, W.7.6, W.8.6, W.9.6, W.1.7, W.4.7, W.7.7, W.8.7, W.9.7, W.1.8, W.4.8, W.7.8, W.8.8, W.9.8
- Speaking and Listening: SL.1.K, SL.2.K, SL.3.K, SL.5.K, SL.6.K, SL.1.1, SL.2.1, SL.3.1, SL.5.1, SL.6.1, SL.1.2, SL.3.2, SL.6.2, SL.1.3, SL.2.3, SL.6.3, SL.1.4, SL.2.4, SL.6.4, SL.1.5, SL.2.5, SL.6.5, SL.1.6, SL.2.6, SL.4.6, SL.1.7, SL.2.7, SL.4.7, SL.1.8, SL.2.8, SL.4.8
- Mathematical Practice: MP.3
- Measurement & Data: 3.MD.B.3, 1.MD.C.4
National Geography Standards: 2
Human beings have domesticated animals since the beginning of agriculture. Domestication is the process of taking a wild species and controlling it for human use and/or consumption. Dogs, cats, fruits, grains, cows, and horses are all examples of organisms that existed in the wild and are now used by humans for companionship or food. While beneficial to humans, domestication of species can have an impact on ecosystems, as it can lead to the introduction of invasive species. These domesticated species often have the advantage of human intervention, which can often involve unequal access to resources such as water and land. This can skew a species’s ability to adapt and to survive, potentially leading to extinction of wild species.
- domestication: the process of adapting organisms for human use
- human intervention: human activity that affects the paths and cycles within an ecosystem
- invasive species: species that are not native to an ecosystem and whose introduction is likely to harm that system
Pre- and Post-Assessment
Assess prior knowledge by having students complete a “KWL.” Before the lesson, students should record 1 to 3 facts they about domesticated species (the “K” in “KWL”), and 1 to 3 questions they about domestication (the “W” in “KWL”). At the end of the lesson, have students record 1 to 3 lessons they (the “L” in “KWL”) about domestication.
- Domesticated species are not very prevalent in our daily lives.
- The absence of wild species means there is no competition between wild and domesticated species.
Investigation 1: Impact of Human Intervention
This experiment should be run for at least a week, but can be run for longer depending on materials and time available.
What advantages do domesticated species have over wild species?
- 2 young plants of the same species
- Tools and space for gardening
- Camera or materials for drawing
- Ruler or other measuring device
- Human Intervention Log (print out and make copies from Resources, above right)
- Begin with two plants of the same species and of approximately the same age. Explain to students that this lesson will show the effects of human intervention by simulating a comparison of domesticated and wild species. Although the experiment may only use domesticated species or only wild species, it will demonstrate the effects of human intervention. Using the same species for both samples will allow for a control sample and consequently a better comparison and evaluation of the effects.
- Have students brainstorm what practices good gardeners employ (using fertilizer, watering plants, weeding to eliminate competition, moving the plant to better sun exposure, etc.). Develop a plan for the degree of human intervention that you will carry out each day for the experimental sample.
- Have students brainstorm what they think the major differences will be at the end of the experiment between the two samples.
- Have each students fill in his/her copy of the Human Intervention Log each day for each plant. If possible, take photos of the plants. Be sure to measure the height and width of each plant, as well as the number of leaves and buds/blooms (as applicable).
Students can write a formal lab report about the experiment and present their findings if the experiment was conducted in smaller groups.
Investigation 2: Land Use in Your Town
How do wild species, domesticated species, and humans share land and resources where you live?
- Colored pencils or markers
- Land Use Chart (print out from Resources, above right)
- Have students brainstorm various uses for land (human habitation, agriculture (crops and livestock), commercial use, parks, etc.)
- Have students complete the Land Use Chart (printed out from Resources, above, right). They should list the different types of land use in the community as well as the pros and cons for humans and wild species.
- Take a screenshot an aerial image of the community and give a copy to each student. Have them color in the various usage areas with different colors (e.g. all land used for human habitation could be colored purple, etc.).
After completing and sharing the colored aerial images, have students consider the following statement: “Our community needs to convert more land for use by wild species.” While they are considering their responses, draw a line spanning the breadth of the board. On one end write “Completely Agree,” and at the other write “Completely disagree.” Have the students write their names where their opinions fall on the spectrum. Monitor the class discussion and attempt to have students come to a consensus as to what the community needs to do.
Have students write an editorial or a letter to the editor of a local newspaper about what should (or shouldn’t) be done regarding land use and allocation in the community.
1. Food Extension
The majority of land in the U.S. is now used for agriculture. Most of that, in turn, is used either to house animals or to grow their food—the crops that humans eat take up a minority of agricultural land. Although meat consumption has dropped a little in recent years, the overall trend has been up and up:
A simple image like this webcomic at http://xkcd.com/1338/ serves to emphasize just how much of a competitive edge humans and our livestock have gained over other land mammals. Note that this is only land mammals; it does not include chickens, nearly 9 billion of which are slaughtered each year in the U.S. alone.
The proliferation of animal agriculture (as countries grow richer, their people eat more meat) has had a major impact on ecosystems. A brief introduction to the basic issues involved are presented in this NPR article: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/06/27/155527365/visualizing-a-nation-of-meat-eaters
Topics of Concern
- Water: Water is required to hydrate animals and to grow their food. Especially in times of drought, the need for water affects both human and wildlife communities.
- Deforestation: Land must be cleared before crops or animals can be placed there. Deforestation threatens many species who live among trees; it can also contribute to climate change.
- Climate change: Several aspects of animal agriculture contribute to climate change. One example is that cow and sheep burps are a major producer of methane, a greenhouse gas much more dangerous than carbon dioxide. Climate change will affect a number of wild habitats and is already contributing to natural disasters like hurricanes and droughts, threatening humans and wildlife alike. (If students are unfamiliar with the details of climate change, there is a good introduction on the EPA’s website: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/. It allows you not only to explore the causes (including agriculture) but also to view impacts and adaptations by region. It might be productive to show the students how their area of the country is being impacted—and how it is adapting. You can also share that a combination of overgrazing, deforestation, and climate change has led to some desertification in the region around Mpala. A more kid-friendly version of the EPA site is here: http://www.epa.gov/climatestudents/index.html, with potential lesson plans here: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/resources/lesson-plans.html).
- Waste : A lot of animals create a lot of waste! This waste can infect water supplies, damaging humans, other land animals, and underwater ecosystems. If improperly managed, the waste can also emit large amounts of nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas.
- Fishing: Commercial fishing has devastated ocean ecosystems; humans are catching fish at a rate faster than fish are reproducing, seriously depleting their numbers. This throws off the whole food web. In addition, some fishing methods can damage habitat, and there is always “by-catch,” which is the accidental capture of fish (and other marine life) that humans do not eat.
- Animal welfare: While this does not directly impact wildlife, the current treatment of farm animals in the U.S. may promote a broader callousness toward all animals. Pigs, cows, and chickens are often kept in small cages their whole life, never going outside or—for many—never even turning around.
But it is not all bad news. Many argue that animal agriculture on a much smaller scale can actually be beneficial. For example, a small amount of manure is a useful fertilizer. However, even if small-scale animal agriculture could be sustainable, it remains an open question whether that is the most efficient way to feed a rapidly-warming world that is home to seven billion humans and counting.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) asked this question in a recent report:
“It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people. To accommodate [sic] this number, current food production will need to almost double. Land is scarce and expanding the area devoted to farming is rarely a viable or sustainable option. Oceans are overfished and climate change and related water shortages could have profound implications for food production. To meet the food and nutrition challenges of today – there are nearly 1 billion chronically hungry people worldwide— and tomorrow, what we eat and how we produce it needs to be re-evaluated. Inefficiencies need to be rectified and food waste reduced. We need to find new ways of growing food.”
The report goes on to suggest widespread entomophagy—the eating of insects! You can read the report at http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e.pdf. Of special relevance is chapter 5. The text may be difficult for younger students to read, but there are some good charts to compare the environmental impacts of mammal/bird livestock and insect livestock. Further resources appear on the list of Agriculture and Environment Resources (see Resources, above right).
- Agriculture and Environment Resources list (print out from Resources, above right)
- Summarize the background information with the students, including the graph from the NPR article, the webcomic, and any other graphics you found particularly interesting. You do not need to go too in-depth, because the students will be creating a chart or graphic of their own in which they can expand.
- Break students into groups, and have each group pick a relevant issue within animal agriculture (it could be one of the six bulleted points under Topics of Concern above, it could be eating insects, or it could be something else, from whaling to soil quality).
- Ask each group to research its given issue, using the Agriculture and Environment Resources List (print out from Resources, above right) and whatever else they can find. (If students do not have Internet access, you may want to print out some of these resources beforehand.)
- Have each group give a brief presentation to the class about its issue. The presentation should revolve around 1 or 2 graphics. These could be charts, graphs, photographs, artwork, a comic strip, or any other visual representation. While younger children can use images they have found online (such as at the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s website: http://www.fao.org/resources/infographics/en/), older students are encouraged to create their own (either by hand or—if possible—with Excel), using the information they have gathered. If they do not have Internet access, the graphic can be based on information from the provided resources, a drawing, or even a poem.
2. Zoo Extension
(Note: This activity is intended for older students. Some of the recommended resources contain graphic descriptions of animal killings. Please preview and use appropriately for the age group of your students.)
Zoos, aquariums, amusement parks like Sea World and Six Flags, and circuses keep wild animals in captivity for human enjoyment—at least in part. But for many of these establishments, the purpose is much more than recreational. Zoos, for example, also use the animals for educational purposes and to advance conservation projects. This extension focuses on this more complex case: where wild animals are used not only to entertain but also to teach humans and to engage in wildlife conservation.
Have students watch a documentary about wild animals in captivity, like the film Blackfish. Students can also read articles like “Zoo of the Future Lets Animals Roam”
(http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/photos/zoo-future-lets-animals-roam-24848794/image-24848795), “Zoo Animals and Their Discontents” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/magazine/zoo-animals-and-their-discontents.html?_r=1), and “Danish Zoo, Reviled in the Death of a Giraffe, Kills 4 Lions” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/27/world/europe/lion-killing-at-danish-zoo-provokes-fresh-outrage.html).
Divide students into groups and have them present both pro and con arguments regarding facilities like zoos and circuses. Where do they fit into modern society? Students can engage in a formal debate and then prepare a reflection paper.