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Ecosystems | Activity 4.3

Activity 4.3: Ecosystem Disturbances (45 min)

Students examine how one particular disturbance—fire—changes carbon pools in an ecosystem.

Materials You Provide

  • Computer
  • Projector

Resources Provided

Setup

For Activity 3, prepare one copy of 4.3 Fire Handout for each student. Prepare a computer and projector to display the presentation.

Directions

1. Have students read a handout about fire as an ecosystem disturbance.

Tell students that disturbances are things that change an ecosystem in some way. In this Activity, they will look specifically at one type of disturbance: fire. To begin, pass out one copy of 4.3 Fire Handout to each student. Have students read the handout about fire. Divide students into pairs. Have them take turns reading each paragraph, and stop to check in on their comprehension after each one.

  • After paragraph 2: In your own words, explain how fires can benefit ecosystems.
  • After paragraph 3: How does fire help maintain the longleaf pine ecosystem?
  • After paragraph 4: Describe how a change in fire frequency and severity could impact longleaf pine savannas. What would be the consequences to this ecosystem?
  • After paragraph 5: Describe how carbon moves through different pools when a fire burns. How do these fluxes change in a low versus high severity fire?
  • After paragraph 6: Why has Smokey the Bear’s message changed over time?

Accommodation: Instead of having one discussion at the end, have students read one section of the handout at a time and discuss their answers to the “Questions” and “Checkpoints” as a class.

Assessment

During your class discussion, check to see if students are able to make connections between the pools and fluxes described in this reading with the pools and fluxes in the other Activities in this Lesson.

Tips

Consider using these resources to help discuss forest fires:

Modifications

Instead of having one discussion at the end, have students read one section of the handout at a time and discuss their answers to the “Questions” and “Checkpoints” as a class.