The Ecology of an Endangered Prairie Ecosystem

Prairie Storm

Brian M. Brown Photograph
Photograph by Brian M. Brown

 

Endangered ecosystems have a high rate of species loss. How does the health of an endangered ecosystem affect the survival of an endangered species? The loss of any species affects the feeding relationships and energy transfer in its food web. Environmental changes also affect the ecosystem of the endangered species. In this activity you will investigate an endangered species living in the North American prairie ecosystem.

Procedure

1. Research the ecology of the prairie ecosystem and one of the eight endangered species listed below. Determine your species' role in its food web and possible explanations for its threatened existence as well as factors that may be endangering the prairie ecosystem.

bulletBurrowing owl
bulletSwift fox
bulletPrairie rattlesnake
bullet Sage grouse
bulletSprague's Pipit
bulletLong-billed curlew
bulletLoggerhead shrike
bulletOrd's kangaroo rat
bulletWestern Blue Flag.

2. List the different trophic levels and links in the food web that your species belongs to.

3. Use Inspiration to build a food web to depict your species' feeding relationships with other species.

4. Present your research using a multimedia format. Your presentation should include:

bulletthe main factors threatening the existence of your species and the existence of the prairie ecosystem
bullethow the extinction of your species would affect the feeding relationships and energy transfer in its food web
bulleta description of how the connections between energy transfer and ecosystem stability and changes to the food web might affect the stability of the ecosystem
bulleta prediction about the future of the chosen species and the prairie ecosystem
bulletrecommendations that could be used to maintain the survival of the species and the health of the prairie ecosystem.

Resources

bullet Burrowing owl
bullet Swift fox
bullet Prairie rattlesnake
bullet Sage grouse
bullet Sprague's Pipit
bullet Long-billed curlew
bullet Loggerhead shrike
bullet Ord's kangaroo rat
bullet Western Blue Flag
bullet Alberta Species At Risk Fact Sheets
bullet Alberta Ecosystems