• Back
  • High School

    Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. 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

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

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.

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

ELA/Literacy

  • 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-LS2-6)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)

Mathematics

  • 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-LS2-6)

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.
  • This lesson plan by New Visions for Public Schools is part of a larger unit called “Ecosystems and Invasive Species” within a one year course called The Living Environment. Each lesson is part of a unit storyline that helps students engag ...

  • This lesson plan by New Visions for Public Schools is part of a larger unit called “Ecosystems and Invasive Species” within a one year course called The Living Environment. Each lesson is part of a unit storyline that helps students engag ...

  • This resource, from Science in the Classroom (AAAS), uses an authentic scientific research paper and an interactive web tool to help students and teachers investigate the phenomenon of forest cover change at different scales over time. The provided f ...

  • Dead Zones in Coastal Ecosystems is one of a series of Data Point resources from HHMI Biointeractive.  Data Points engage students in analyzing and interpreting data from primary literature in the biological sciences.  This HHMI Data Point ...

  • 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 phenomenon of species loss within the context of a marine ecosystem. By using ...

  • Ecology Disrupted is an online, ecology-based curriculum authored by educators at The American Museum of Natural History. Bighorn Sheep, containing five lessons, is one of three units within this curriculum. The lessons are designed to support studen ...

  • 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 investigate  interactions under diff ...

  •   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 from primary literature in the biological science ...

  • 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 ...

  • Do you have a great resource to share with the community? Click here.
  • In this activity students use NASA satellite data to study changes in temperature and snow-ice coverage in the South Beaufort Sea, Alaska. They will then correlate the data with USGS ground tracking of polar bears and relate their findings to global ...

  • In this activity, students examine NASA satellite data to determine if sea surface temperature has reached a point that would cause coral bleaching in the Caribbean.

  • In this activity students research the inter-dependencies among plants and animals in an ecosystem and explore how climate change might affect those inter-dependencies and the ecosystem as a whole.

  • This lesson plan has students working in small groups to research the Mountain Pine Beetle in Colorado and other inter-mountain Western states. Students identify the factors that control pine beetle population and research how warmer winters and decr...

  • This video examines what will happen to crops as Earth's temperature rises and soils dry out because of changing climate.

  • In this EarthLabs activity, learners explore the concepts of coral bleaching, bleaching hot spots and degree-heating weeks. Using data products from NOAA's Coral Reef Watch, students identify bleaching hot spots and degree-heating weeks around the gl...

  • In this video, a team of paleontologists, paleobotanists, soil scientists, and other researchers take to the field in Wyoming's Bighorn Basin to document how the climate, plants, and animals there changed during the Paleocene- Eocene Thermal Maximum ...

  • This video describes the effect of a warming climate on the tundra biome and specifically the impacts of changing climate on the Rocky Mountain Pika, a small mammal that struggles with summer heat.

  • This video features changes in the land, sea, and animals that are being observed by the residents of Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories, Canada — many of whom hunt, trap, and fish—because of their long-standing and intimate connection with the...

  • In this activity, students research various topics about ocean health, e.g. overfishing, habitat destruction, invasive species, climate change, pollution, and ocean acidification. An optional extension activity has them creating an aquatic biosphere ...

  • In this activity about climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula, learners investigate environmental changes in the living and nonliving resources of Antarctic peninsula and the impact of these changes on Adélie penguin communities. The activity str...

  • Coral Reefs in Hot Water is a short video displaying computerized data collected on the number of reefs impacted by coral bleaching around the world.

  • This is a National Geographic short video that briefly describes how succulent plants in the South African Karoo biome are dying off due to changes in climate.

  • This video introduces phytoplankton - the base of the marine food web, the source of half of the oxygen on Earth, and an important remover of CO2 from the atmosphere. The video also explains how satellites are used to monitor phytoplankton and how wa...

  • In this activity, students are guided through the process of locating and graphing web-based environmental data that has been collected by GLOBE Program participants using actual data collected by students in Pennsylvania and comparing them to their ...

  • This audio slideshow examines the changes in the ecosystem that will occur to the Arctic due to increasing temperatures and disappearing sea ice.

  • This video focuses on the science of climate change and its impacts on wildlife on land and in the sea, and their habitats in the U.S. There are short sections on walruses, coral reefs, migrating birds and their breeding grounds, freshwater fish, bee...

  • In this video, the mountain pine beetle problem is explained by two scientists. Their research investigates the beetle and how climate change is hastening its spread.

  • This video looks at the impact of changing climate on animal habitats around the world, showing how different creatures are responding to changing temperatures and precipitation patterns.

  • In this activity, students study the relationship between changing climate conditions and the distribution of plants across North America, using a unique tool called the Pollen Viewer. This tool allows the user to animate the retreat of the North Ame...

  • This video segment depicts how climate change is impacting the migration of Canada's barren-ground caribou. Changes in the plant community and tree lines will change the prime habitat for some herds of caribou. Caribou are faced with adapting to thes...

  • This 3-part interactive and virtual lab activity examines the life cycle of the sea urchin, and how the increasing acidity of the ocean affects their larval development.

  • In this video, students learn how scientific surveys of wildlife are performed at a site in Yosemite, California. These surveys, in conjunction with studies from the early 1900s, provide evidence that animal populations in Yosemite have shifted over ...

  • This video features CU Boulder Professor Jeff Mitton and his research team, who study the effects of mountain pine beetle infestations on the forest ecology in the Rocky Mountains. They explain the pine beetle life cycle and how they attack trees. A...

  • In this video, scientist Dr. Susan Prichard discusses the impact of pine bark beetles on western forests. She explains how climate change, specifically rising temperatures, is exacerbating the problem.

  • This video from ClimateCentral looks at the way climate conditions can affect vegetation in the West, and what influence this has on wildfires. Drought and rainfall can have very different wildfire outcomes, depending on vegetation type, extent, and ...

  • This video presents predictions and solutions for range shifts (wildlife corridors) by an iconic species of North American wilderness: the wolverine.

  • In this activity, students investigate the shifting of three penguin communities in response to climate change.

  • In this activity, students explore how the timing of color change and leaf drop of New England's deciduous trees is changing.

  • In this lab activity, students use brine shrimp as a proxy for krill to study how environmental factors impact behavioral responses of krill in the unique environment of Antarctica.

  • This is the seventh of nine lessons in the 'Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change' website. This lesson addresses climate feedback loops and how these loops help drive and regulate Earth's unique climate system.

  • This video illustrates how one community developed and implemented a sustainable solution to help keep stream water cool enough for healthy fish. Their solution has the added benefit of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

  • This is lesson five of a 9-lesson module. Activity explores the effects of climate change on different parts of the Earth system and on human well-being: polar regions, coral reefs, disease vectors, extreme weather, and biodiversity.

  • Activity is a Project BudBurst/National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) exploration of eco-climactic domains, as defined by NEON, by investigating characteristics of a specific domain and studying two representative plants in that domain.

  • This video shows 15 years of data obtained via Polar-orbiting satellites that are able to detect subtle differences in ocean color, allowing scientists to see where there are higher concentrations of phytoplankton - a proxy for the concentration of c...

  • This activity covers the role that the oceans may play in climate change and how climate change may affect the oceans. It is lesson 8 in a nine-lesson module Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change.

  • In this activity from NOAA's Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, learners investigate how methane hydrates might have been involved with the Cambrian explosion.

  • This lesson sequence guides students to learn about the geography and the unique characteristics of the Arctic, including vegetation, and people who live there. Students use Google Earth to explore the Arctic and learn about meteorological observatio...

  • This activity relates water temperature to fishery health within inland freshwater watersheds as a way to explore how environmental factors of an ecosystem affect the organisms that use those ecosystems as important habitat.

  • This sequence of activities using real-world data to explain the importance of coral reefs and the relationship of coral reef health to the surrounding environment. Unit includes five activities.

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