Ecological Change and Adaptation (The Changing Landscape)

Related Brandwein Outdoor Learning Activities

All natural communities change over time. But human activity frequently impacts natural communities in disproportionate ways, accelerating change. For example, whenever humans farm or ranch, changes to the natural community are likely to occur. Even many years after the human activities have ceased, careful scientific observations can lead to inferences about human activity in the past. The Brandwein Nature Learning Preserve offers evidence about human intervention in its recent past.
As organisms grow, they change their own habitat including the abiotic factors around them. As they do so, they may change the conditions which favor various organisms and the community gradually changes over time. This relatively predictable series of change over time is called “succession.” See activity, “Brandwein CSI: Exploring the Past Based on Observations today.

Recording seasonal changes digitally will focus attention to small details that are otherwise easy to overlook. The digital record can also be used as a future reference back in the classroom, providing an easy way to capture images relevant to the curriculum.  This activity encourages students who tend to be more right-brained, aesthetic or artistic to take ownership of the observation process. It ends with a discussion of how judgments are formed about the environment. See the activity “Caught You: Using Digital Cameras to Investigate Science.