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AoS 2 How living systems sustain life - adaptations and dynamic ecosystems

Full Day
Book Program
Year Levels
Unit 1 — How do living things stay alive?


Part 1: Adaptations - Adaptations are the result of natural selection. An adaptation is an inherited characteristic that increases the likelihood of survival and reproduction of an individual organism. Adaptations may be structural, physiological or behavioural features. Organisms have a variety of adaptations that enable them to cope with varying environmental conditions.

Choose 1 of the following options:

  • Option 1: Serendip Sanctuary (Lara) – Students travel straight to Serendip Sanctuary for a 9.30am start. They accompany an Ecolinc education officer for a wildlife walk where they observe wetland plant, bird, marsupial and reptile adaptations. Students then travel back to Ecolinc for a 12.00pm lunch with Dynamic Ecosystems to follow at 12.30pm. (Maximum of 50 students)
  • Option 2: Birds of Prey Experience – Students will get "up close and personal" with birds of prey from the Leigh Valley Hawk and Owl Sanctuary and will learn about the amazing adaptations that enable them to be such successful hunters. Students will also have the opportunity to investigate Ecolinc's plant and animal adaptations.

Part 2: Dynamic Ecosystems - There is a diverse range of environments across Victoria. These include arid and coastal regions, grasslands and numerous types of forests. Within these regions there is a diverse range of ecosystems, which are classified by a combination of the vegetation community and landform. Victoria’s ecosystems include rainforests, alpine, grasslands, semi-desert, marine, coastal, urban, agricultural and wetland ecosystems. An ecosystem consists of all the organisms living in a community as well as all the abiotic factors with which they interact. For an ecosystem to operate efficiently, two processes must be at work, (i) energy flow and (ii) chemical cycling. All ecosystems have a trophic structure of feeding relationships that determines the pathways for energy flow and chemical cycling.

Prior Knowledge

No prior knowledge required.

Learning Intentions

In this program student’s will:

  • Investigate a wetland ecosystem.
  • Identify aquatic plant adaptations that provide the organism with the ability to cope with the varying conditions of its habitat.
  • Examine the different types of adaptations of a variety of freshwater and terrestrial animals.
  • Investigate the interactions between living things in the Ecolinc wetland.
  • Identify freshwater macroinvertebrates.
  • Examine relationships between wetland organisms.
  • Explore processes within the wetland ecosystem, and
  • Discover how human activities can alter the wetland ecosystem.


  • Examine the aquatic plants that thrive in the wetland.
  • Using a variety of wetland specimens; including emergent, floating and submerged plants, examine their adaptations.
  • Observe live animals and use additional resources provided to describe structural, physiological and behavioural adaptations.
  • Identify biotic communities and ecological zones within the wetland and grasslands.
  • Discuss sampling techniques.
  • In the laboratory, identify the macroinvertebrates using the stereo microscope.
  • Determine interactions within the Ecolinc wetland.
  • Identify producers, consumers and detritivores in ecosystems.
  • Explore wetland trophic levels and flow of energy.
  • Evaluate changes to wetlands over time.

VCE links

  • The structural, physiological and behavioural adaptations that enhance an organism’s survival and enable life to exist in a wide range of environments
  • The beneficial, harmful and benign relationships between species including amensalism, commensalism, mutualism, parasitism and predation
  • Interdependencies between species as represented by food webs, including impact of changes to keystone species