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Exploring grassland ecosystems

Ecolinc
Full Day
Book Program
Year Levels
Field Trip

Background

In June 2008, the Australian Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Arts listed the natural temperate Grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain as a critically endangered ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Characteristically, grassland communities are dominated by grasses with trees either sparse or absent.  The soil of grasslands is often quite fertile and is generally volcanically derived or alluvial.  There are many rare or threatened plant and animal species occurring in grassland ecosystems, and as communities, grasslands are classified as threatened.  Grasslands exist throughout the world in temperate areas and in Australia, particularly on the plains of eastern Australia.  In Victoria, grasslands have been reduced by such an extent that threat of extinction is real and imminent unless they are managed correctly.  Less than 5% of the Western Volcanic Plains grassland’s original remain occurring in mostly small, highly fragmented remnants.  Many animals and plants that inhabit these grasslands are now listed as critically endangered or extinct in the wild.


Key Learning Question

What interactions occur in grassland ecosystems?


Learning Intentions

In this activity students will:

  • Define ecosystem, community, biotic/abiotic factors and biodiversity
  • Investigate the characteristics of a grassland ecosystem
  • Identify grassland organisms and discuss how they are interdependent on each other and the ecosystem
  • Outline the relationship between abiotic and biotic components in a grassland ecosystem
  • Identify grassland stakeholders

Note:

  • Maximum number of students is 50 per day
  • This program is offered in Semester 2 only

Activities

In this program students will participate in three activities:

  • Participate in an interactive ‘Amazing Race’, exploring grassland plants and animals, adaptations, abiotic/biotic factors and feeding relationships
  • Learn about the role of detritivores in the grassland ecosystem by examining dung beetles, worms and other compost bugs and then explore how these animals impact on abiotic factors such as soil
  • Play a stakeholder game that illustrates the complexity in grassland ecosystem management

Victorian Curriculum

Science – Biological sciences

  • Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (VCSSU121)

Geography – Environmental change and management

  • Environmental, economic and technological factors that influence environmental change and human responses to its management (VCGGK145)

Learning Continuum

The following Learning Continuum is a guide for teachers to show the links between the programs. Ecolinc offers onsite, online and through outreach. The Learning Continuum can be used to access Ecolinc resources to support the development of units of work.

Ecolinc Learn Online is an online learning management system offering interactive online courses for students and teachers. These courses can be undertaken either as a pre-visit, post-visit or stand-alone. Students are encouraged to do the pre-learning course before coming to Ecolinc for an onsite program.

Outreach programs are conducted by an Ecolinc education officer at your school. They are available to moderately disadvantaged primary schools in the Geelong, Ballarat and western suburbs areas (or within 100km radius from Bacchus Marsh).
 

Learn Online Pre-program:

Eco Explorers