Honolulu Zoo Society : Survival! Adaptations

Animals Adapt to their Habitats

Topic Overview

Begin the Lesson

An ecological system includes all the plants and animals that live together in a particular area. These organisms within an area interact with each other as well as the climate, water, soil, rocks, etc. An ecosystem can be very small, such as a puddle or an area under a large tree, or it can be very large, such as an ocean or mountain range. The territory that shares common characteristics is also known as a habitat. Certain plants and animals require specific conditions in order to survive; thus certain habitats will support specific organisms.

Groups of ecosystems that are similar collected together form biomes. Biomes are large areas of the Earth that have similar weather, types of plants and animals.


Whole Class Introduction to the Lesson

You will need at least one computer with Internet connectivity and a projection device, a classroom with more than one computer, or access to a computer lab.  This introduction will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Start with this introductory video from TeacherTube: http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=81306. This is another good introductory video to use with the whole class: http://libraryschool.libguidescms.com/cindycoffman.

Project the following site for the whole class: http://a-z-animals.com/reference/habitats/ . Use the links along the right to click through a variety of habitats starting with 'Coniferous forest'. Look at the photos on each page; ask students to look for clues that might tell them what the climate and land is like in each habitat.

Next project the World Wildlife Fund's Habitats resource: http://worldwildlife.org/habitats. Click each image which will lead to another page with photos. Look for the link that says 'Browse photos and videos'. This is available on each habitat page and provides loads of excellent photos for students to look through.

As part of the introduction, you may want to review some of the glossary terms in advance of students going online. At this point you can launch the WebLesson as whole-class activity using a projection device, or you can assign students to work individually or in teams in a computer lab.



WebLesson Sites
Animals live in many different climates and environments. Each animal has special adaptations to help them live within their home environment. Adaptations help animals eat certain foods, find water in dry conditions, stay warm in cold conditions, hide when hunting during the day, and see better when hunting during the night.

We are going to travel the globe and visit different places to see different animals in their home environments and how their individual adaptations help them survive.

You are a zoo helper and you have received a box in the mail from a National Geographic explorer. In the box is the body of an animal no one has ever seen before. Using what you learn in this lesson about how animals are adapted to their habitats, your job will be to determine from what habitats this animal comes.
Lesson Pages
Video: Habitat
Rich Media
Nature Wildlife - Habitats
Rich Media
Conclusion & Project
An ecosystem is a community of living things within a particular physical environment and climate. Each animal, plant, or bacteria in an ecosystem lives in a particular habitat. A habitat may be any size; it can be a small puddle under a rock or a fallen tree decaying on the forest floor. It might contain only a few species or it may have thousands of organisms living together. Animals, plants, and bacteria are all adapted to survive in their particular habitats. The organisms in an ecosystem work together to keep the ecosystem healthy.
Draw the animal that you imagine was in the box you received from the explorer. Describe the physical characteristics of the animal and how it is specially adapted to be successful in its habitat. Describe the habitat from which you think it comes.
abiotic - nonliving
arctic - extremely cold regions near the geographical (north and south) poles
aviary - large cage, building, or enclosure for birds
biotic - having to do with life or living organisms
community - group of organisms living together in one place
conservation - protection, preservation, management, or restoration of wildlife and of natural resources such as forests, soil, and water
consumer - an organism within a community that feeds upon plants or other animals
dead zone - low-oxygen areas in the world's oceans
decomposer - bacteria that feed on and break down dead plant or animal matter, thus making organic nutrients available to the ecosystem
desert - dry, barren area of land, often covered with sand
ecosystem - a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment
freshwater - inland water, such as ponds, lakes, or streams, that is not saltly
graze - eat grass in a field
habitat - natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism
ice cap - a mass of ice and snow that permanently covers a large area of land
industrialization - large-scale development of industry for the manufacture of goods
marine - native to or living in the sea or ocean
niche - function or position of an organism or population within an ecological community
papillae - small fleshy projection on a plant or animal
producer - a plant that is able to produce its own food from water and sunlight and serves as a source of food for other organisms on the food chain
restoration - return of something to an original or unimpaired condition
temperate - climate intermediate between tropical and polar; moderate or mild in temperature
terrestrial - living or growing on land
thermoreceptor - sensory receptor that responds to heat and cold
tropical - very hot and humid
wetland - lowland area, such as a marsh or swamp, that is saturated with moisture, especially when regarded as the natural habitat of wildlife
zoologist - a scientist who studies living organisms