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Wolf Ecology

TARGET AUDIENCE
Grades 3 – 7

PROGRAM LENGTH
45 – 60 minutes

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
Explore the world of the wolf! Using the wolf as a fascinating case study, students examine the important roles that predators, prey and scavengers play in the ecosystems where wolves live. Through an interactive simulation we will demonstrate the way energy and nutrients flow through an ecosystem. We’ll find out what a wolf eats for dinner and watch short video clips of wolves hunting for their prey in three ecosystems. All programs feature real-time observations of the International Wolf Center’s ambassador wolves.

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES
Students will be able to:

  • define predator, prey and scavenger
  • explain the flow of energy through an ecosystem
  • predict wolf and prey population dynamics over time
  • list three prey species a wolf might eat
  • compare and contrast three ecosystems where wolves live

NATIONAL STANDARDS TO WHICH THIS PROGRAM ALIGNS
NS.K-4.3 LIFE SCIENCE
As a result of activities, all students should develop understanding of

  • The characteristics of organisms
  • Life cycles of organisms
  • Organisms and environments

NS.5-8.3 LIFE SCIENCE
As a result of their activities, all students should develop understanding

  • Structure and function in living systems
  • Regulation and behavior
  • Populations and ecosystems
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms

NS.K-4.6 and NS.5-8.6 PERSONAL AND SOCIAL PERSPECTIVES
As a result of activities, all students should develop understanding of

  • Types of resources
  • Changes in environments
  • Populations, resources, and environments

 

VOCABULARY
producer, consumer, decomposer, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, predator, prey, scavenger, ecosystem, habitat, niche, population, food web, energy cycle

SUGGESTED PRE-PROGRAM PREPARATION

  • Discussions of ecosystems, nature’s cycles, habitat needs, ecological niches, photosynthesis before the program are very helpful but not required.
  • Play the “Nature’s Stock Market” Game with the class, see section one of the International Wolf Center’s Gray Wolves, Gray Matter curriculum.
  • Brainstorm or visit www.wolf.org to develop questions for instructor.
  • Please print out the two-page PDF document for the program. One page says “Energy for Living” and the second page says “Nutrients.” We’ll need ONE set of these pages for the program, students do not need their own copies.

SUGGESTED POST-PROGRAM FOLLOW UP

  • Do the “Wolf Turf,” “Island of Gray Wolves,” and/or “Ripple Effect” lessons with the class, see section two of the International Wolf Center’s Gray Wolves, Gray Matter curriculum.
  • Learn about the very close relationship between wolves and moose on Isle Royale National Park by visiting the Web site about the predator/prey research.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING AN INTERACTIVE VIDEOCONFERENCE PROGRAM WITH THE INTERNATIONAL WOLF CENTER

All videoconference programs with the International Wolf Center combine real-time observations of the Center’s resident pack of ambassador wolves with lively discussion, interactive activities, and question/answer time with a wolf expert. Students will observe the wolves behaving naturally in their 1.25 acre wooded enclosure, which may mean that the wolves are resting or out of view. International Wolf Center staff will do their best to ensure that the students observe the wolves being active, but we make no guarantees.

Teachers are asked to remain in the classroom with the students during the program. When the instructor poses a question to the students, we ask that the teacher call on a student to answer. Students are encouraged to answer as loudly as possible into a microphone, but the teacher may still need to repeat the answer so the instructor can hear what the student said.

Because audio and video quality can vary greatly during a program, please let the instructor know if you didn’t hear or understand something or if you can’t see what the instructor is talking about.

When we do our the simulation of how energy flows through the ecosystem we’ll have six student volunteers stand shoulder to shoulder in a place where they can be seen both by the camera and the rest of the students. Try to remember to leave a little space in the back of the room for this. During the simulation we ask the teacher to help in two ways. First, we need to have the two-page PDF printed out and ready. You will hand the page that says “Energy for Living” to the student who plays the role of the sun, and you’ll hand the page that says “Nutrients” to the student who plays the role of the soil. Second, you may need to help the students follow directions to act out the energy flow. The directions are pretty straight forward, but sometimes certain students need a little nudging to play their part correctly.

We encourage questions! We will reserve at least 10 minutes at the end of each program for student questions. Teachers may wish to have the students visit www.wolf.org before the program to prepare questions. Questions may relate to the program’s theme or may be about wolves in general.

Thanks for your interest in wolves, we are looking forward to the program!