Ecology Resource Availability Populations Activity Analyzing Data NGSS MS-LS2-1


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This activity is engaging, challenging and NO PREP! This 45-minute activity covers NGSS LS2.A:  Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems: Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources. (MS-LS2-1)

What Students Do:

1. Read: Students learn about how resource variability influences bird migration in North America.

2. Data Analysis: Students will analyze a data table of bird species populations in Northern and Southern areas and create a graph to visualize the data.

3. Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Students will answer key questions related to the data, including identifying patterns, cause-and-effect relationships, and which bird species are most impacted by changes in resource variability.

4. Objective: By the end of the lesson, students will have a better understanding of the factors that drive bird migration and how changes in resource availability impact bird populations, which can inform their understanding of ecosystem dynamics and environmental conservation.

This resource includes the following:

-Student handout with reading, data table and 10 questions

-Student Handout to graph data with two differentiated versions for higher and lower math levels


Concepts Included:

LS2.A:  Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

ESS3.C:  Human Impacts on Earth Systems

Resource Availability in Ecosystems

Limited Resources Effect Populations and Ecosystems

Predator Prey Relationships

Interactions in Ecosystems


Food Sources


Includes the Following NGSS Standards:

Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in multiple ecosystems. MS-LS2-1

LS2.A:  Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

• Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors. (MS-LS2-1)

• In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar requirements for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction. (MS-LS2-1)

• Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources. (MS-LS2-1)

ESS3.C:  Human Impacts on Earth Systems

• Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things. (MS-ESS3-3)

• Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise. (MS-ESS3-3), (MS-ESS3-4)

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and Effect: Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Systems and System Models: Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy, and matter flows within systems.

Patterns: Observed patterns in nature guide organization and classification and prompt questions about relationships and causes underlying them.

Stability and Change: For both designed and natural systems, conditions that affect stability and factors that control rates of change are critical elements to consider and understand.

Science and Engineering Practices:

Asking Questions and Defining Problem

· Students at any grade level should be able to ask questions of each other about the texts they read, the features of the phenomena they observe, and the conclusions they draw from their models or scientific investigations. 

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

· Argumentation is the process by which explanations and solutions are reached.

Construct an Explanation

· Based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.


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