Pre-Program Activity 1: Food Web Interactions

Grade Level: 2-5
Duration: 1 hour
Next Generation Sunshine State Standards
 SC.3.L.14.1; SC.3.L.15.1; SC.3.L.17.1; SC.3.L.17.2; SC.3.N.1.6; SC.3.N.3.1;
 SC.4.L.17.1; SC.4.L.17.2; SC.4.L.17.3; SC.4.L.17.4; SC.4.N.1.1; SC.4.N.2.1;
 SC.5.L.15.1; SC.5.L.17.1.
Program Overview: Florida is home to many large
predators. Learn about food webs, and how each species
holds an important role in the ecosystem. Learn about
the Conservancy’s research on endangered species such
as the Florida Panther. Have fun exploring where these
animals live, what they need to survive, and what you
can do to help them.
Keystone species
Trophic level
Apex predator
Endangered Species Ecosystem
Objective: Students will learn the flow of a food web, discover distinctive characteristics of
both predator and prey, study the necessity of a balanced ecosystem, and determine the
importance of an apex predator.
Pre-Program Activity 1: Food Web Interactions
Introduce students to the concept of a food web. Explain that energy travels up the food
chain, as each organism consumes another. You could print out the food web below for
each student, or answer questions as a class. Questions to ask:
1) What is a predator? Answer: an animal that eats another animal
2) What is a prey? Answer: an animal that gets eaten
3) Can you identify the predators in this food web?
4) Can you identify the prey in this food web?
5) What would happen if you completely eliminated any one species in the web?
*You could get creative and say something like “a big shopping center was built and
wiped out all of the foxes and their habitat.”
6) Wrap it all up by emphasizing that all species in an ecosystem are interconnected, or
dependent upon one another in some way. If you eliminate any one species, it will
have some kind of effect on all the others. Predators are vital in an ecosystem, as are
Pre-Program Activity 2: Apex Predators
Introduce to students the concept of an apex predator: an animal at the top of the food
chain because it has few or no predators. You can either print out the food webs below, or
Google “Florida Food Webs” to work from a computer. Have students circle, or identify the
apex predator(s) in each food web:
Apex predators: humans, eagle
Apex predators: cougar, bald eagle
Apex predators: humans (this one is tricky because of the layout of the web)
Post-Program Activity 1: Apex Predator Research
We have learned about some of Florida’s apex predators (reiterate that an apex predator
is at the top of the food chain because it has few or no predators). Some examples are:
Florida panther
Bald eagle
River otter
Florida black bear
Golden eagle
Burmese python (non-native)
Bull shark
Hammerhead shark
Goliath grouper
Ask students if they can think of any others. Next, assign, or have students choose one
apex predator to research in the library or computer lab. Have them focus on the following
1) What type of habitat does this animal live in?
2) How big does it get?
3) How many young (babies) does it have, and how often?
4) What does it eat?
5) Does it have any threats?
6) What would happen if this animal went extinct?
(continued on next page)
Post-Program Activity2: Prey Defenses
What would you do if something big and hungry wanted to eat you? When prey animals
are hunted, they must have some kind of defense or else they will be eaten. Some defenses
1) Speed
2) Play dead
3) Poisonous/venomous, sometimes with bright colors
4) Camouflage
5) Look-alike (sometimes a non-poisonous animal will look like a poisonous one, and
the predator can’t tell the difference so he just stays away!)
These defenses are called adaptations and they are crucial to the prey’s survival. Have
students research these adaptations, and try to come up with one Florida animal for each
one. How does the adaptation help this animal survive against predators?