Overview of Ecology and Resources Unit:


We have decided to use the GEMS guide “Environmental Detectives” to meet most of the ecology standards and some of the resources standards.  To follow the GEMS guide fully, with all the activities and connected readings from the Prentice Hall textbook, it should take about  4 weeks. This leaves one week to work on the topic of renewable and non-renewable resources, which is not covered in the guide.  In December, we will distribute a more detailed explanation of these units, including alternative ways to shorten the Environmental Detectives project as well as alternatives to the project that will cover the same standards.


Below are the major themes of ecology that will be introduced using “Environmental Detectives”:

(California State Standards are in parentheses)


Ecosystem/biosphere (Interaction between living and non-living things)


Understand that our Earth is special because it is able to sustain life.

Our biosphere affects the nonliving features of the earth: the atmosphere, oceans and carbon cycle. (5 e)


Food web  (Interactions between species)


Flow of matter and energy from the sun and the earth through the food web (5a, 5b)

Roles: producer, consumer, decomposer, predator and prey (5c)


Populations (Interaction between organisms of a species and their environment)


How populations fit into the bigger picture: biosphere:ecosystem:community:population:organism

            How populations change in response to changes in biotic and abiotic factors (5e)

            Resource availability influences the number and type of organisms in a given ecosystem


Missing in Environmental Detectives: 5d: emphasizes that different organisms can play similar ecological roles in similar biomes. This is NOT just going over all of the biomes, but focusing on one type of biome in different location, e.g. Australia and California deserts.