• Back
  • High School

    Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales. HS-LS2-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales. HS-LS2-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem. HS-LS2-6

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity. HS-LS2-7

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  5. Evaluate the evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species’ chances to survive and reproduce. HS-LS2-8

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  6. Create or revise a simulation to test a solution to mitigate adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity. HS-LS4-6

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Mathematical and computational thinking in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using appropriate and sufficient evidence and scientific reasoning to defend and critique claims and explanations about the natural and designed world(s). Arguments may also come from current scientific or historical episodes in science.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections


  • RST.11-12.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account. (HS-LS2-1), (HS-LS2-2), (HS-LS2-6), (HS-LS2-8)
  • RST.11-12.7 - Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem. (HS-LS2-6), (HS-LS2-7), (HS-LS2-8)
  • RST.11-12.8 - Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information. (HS-LS2-6), (HS-LS2-7), (HS-LS2-8)
  • RST.9-10.8 - Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claim or a recommendation for solving a scientific or technical problem. (HS-LS2-6), (HS-LS2-7), (HS-LS2-8)
  • WHST.11-12.7 - Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. (HS-LS2-7), (HS-LS4-6)
  • WHST.9-12.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (HS-LS2-1)
  • WHST.9-12.5 - Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (HS-LS4-6)


  • HSN-Q.A.1 - Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays. (HS-LS2-1), (HS-LS2-2), (HS-LS2-7)
  • HSN-Q.A.2 - Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling. (HS-LS2-1), (HS-LS2-2), (HS-LS2-7)
  • HSN-Q.A.3 - Choose a level of accuracy appropriate to limitations on measurement when reporting quantities. (HS-LS2-1), (HS-LS2-2), (HS-LS2-7)
  • HSS-IC.A.1 - Understand statistics as a process for making inferences about population parameters based on a random sample from that population. (HS-LS2-6)
  • HSS-IC.B.6 - Evaluate reports based on data. (HS-LS2-6)
  • HSS-ID.A.1 - Represent data with plots on the real number line (dot plots, histograms, and box plots). (HS-LS2-6)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (HS-LS2-1), (HS-LS2-2), (HS-LS2-6), (HS-LS2-7)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (HS-LS2-1), (HS-LS2-2)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • The SimRiver Simulation, developed by Dr. Shigeki Mayama’s lab at Tokyo Gakugei University, models human impact on water quality of a river. Settings within the simulation help students to make sense of this phen…

  • This article in NSTA’s November 2016 issue of The Science Teacher describes a set of activities that engage students in three-dimensional learning by using diatom bioassessments to assess water quality a…

  • This NetLogo simulation, developed by Uri Wilensky at Northwestern University, models three populations (rabbits, grass, weeds) within an ecosystem over time. Settings within the simulation help students to make sense …

  • This article in the October 2016 issue of The American Biology Teacher uses five interrelated  “data-rich problem” tasks to help students make sense of the …

  • This NetLogo simulation, developed by Uri Wilensky at Northwestern University, models three populations (wolf, sheep, grass) within an ecosystem over time. Settings within the simulation help students to make sense of …

  • Ecology Disrupted is an online, ecology-based curriculum authored by educators at The American Museum of Natural History. Bighorn Sheep, containing five lessons,

  • This article in the September 2016 issue of The American Biology Teacher describes an investigation designed to help students engage in three-dimensional learning as they ex…

  • This article in the May 2016 issue of The American Biology Teacher describes three modules designed to help students engage in three-dimensional learning as they explore the…

  • The lesson contained in this article from the April 2016 issue of The American Biology Teacher is designed to engage students in three-di…

  • This article in NSTA’s February 2016 issue of “The Science Teacher” describes how “cover boards” can be used to create microhabitats, models of ecosystems, that allow students to investiga…


    Modeling Ecosystem Effects of Termite Mound Patterns is one of a series of Data Point resources from HHMI Biointeractive.  Data Points engage students in analyzing and interpreting data f…

  • This article in NSTA’s December 2015 issue of “The Science Teacher” describes two lessons developed by teachers attending the Crossing Boundaries Project (…

  • This open educational resource from Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency (Wayne RESA) in Michigan was developed by a teacher during a professional development workshop. The goal of the lesson is for student…

  • This article in NSTA’s December 2014 issue of “The Science Teacher” describes a classroom activity that uses engineering design to help students model modern fishing gear to minimize bycatch in the tuna fishery.  (Bycatch is…

  • Population Explosion is a computer simulation which allows students to manipulate factors to see what happens over time to a population of sheep within an enclosed field. As the simulation runs, a graph shows the dynamic relationship between the shee…

  • This is one of 30 lessons from the NSTA Press book Scientific Argumentation in Biology. The lesson engages students in the question: Is our saltwater fish population declining? If so, what policies would be most effective in slowing that decline? The…

  • In this lesson plan, students use Simpson’s biodiversity index to answer the research question: “How do two wooded areas of different ages compare in species biodiversity?” Simpson’s biodiversity index measures not only how many different species the…

  • This article in NSTA’s March 2014 edition of The Science Teacher describes how one class studied interdependent relationships in ecosystems by building smartphone apps. Student teams used engineering design principles to define a problem, research an…

  • This lesson plan on invertebrate biodiversity provides teachers with instructional and laboratory tools to introduce students to ecological fieldwork and data analysis. Five different collection techniques are described; students can build their own …

  • This online interactive lesson uses skills in calculation, estimation, and graphing to explore factors that influence change in two populations of different scales: lions in the Ngorongoro Crater of Tanzania, Africa, and bacteria within a petri dish.…

Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.