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Understanding habitat removal & fragmentation-Teacher Resource

Task 1

Location:

Classroom / Outdoors
 

Materials list: 
  • 12-20 patches of material/paper varying in size from 100 to 1000 square centimetres.

  • Audio device & music

Task 2

Location:

Classroom

Learning intention:

Play a game to demonstrate the effect of land clearing and habitat fragmentation on animal populations. 

Task 1. Play a game!

Place the pieces of material randomly on the ground in an open area. The larger the area, the more effective and fun the game. Each patch on the ground represents the Cumberland Plain Woodland. Tell students that they are the animals that use the Cumberland Plain Woodland as habitat.

As you play some music, the animals move around in search of daily resources like food or water. 

Like musical chairs, when the music stops each student needs to find a suitable habitat to be safe by standing upon a material patch. 

During each successive round, the teacher (the bulldozer) will clear away a piece of habitat. Do so whilst the music plays.

More than one person is allowed to stand on any piece of habitat as refuge when the music stops, but the students will find that if the remnant patch is too small it cannot house many animals, resulting in student/s standing without the safety of habitat.

Without refuge, the animal is now vulnerable to feral predators - foxes, dogs and cats.  Any animal without habitat is out of the game. 

The first 3 students out can then play the role of fox, dog and cat to predate on other animals. This can be done as a game of tag within a set area, whereby native animals must escape predation whilst staying outside the boundaries of remnant habitat. 
Continue the game until only one or two remnant habitats remain.

Reflect!
Ask students to reflect on the game outcome by asking the following questions:

  • What happened?

  • Why did this happen?

  • What could have been done to prevent this from happening?

 

Task 2. Tell a story

 Students compose a short ‘adventure story’, artwork or animation documenting a ‘day in a life’ of their animal based on their outcome in the game. Use the following question prompts to scaffold student writing:

  • How did your animal survive in a small patch of Cumberland Plain Woodland? 

  • Was finding food, water and shelter difficult? 

  • How far did you have to travel? 

  • Did you have to compete with other animals to access these resources?

  • How often did you encounter threats?

  • How did you feel on each of these occasions?

 

Alternatively, ask students to compose a short ‘adventure story’, artwork or animation from the perspective of their animal if they lived in a large, continuous area of Cumberland Plain Woodland. Use the following question prompts to scaffold student writing:

  • What benefits does a larger patch of Cumberland Plain Woodland offer to your animal? 

  • Was finding food, water and shelter as difficult as it was in the game you played? 

  • Do you have to travel far to find resources? 

  • Did you have to compete with other animals to access these resources?

  • How often do you encounter threats?

  • How would you feel?

Illustration of a dry Sclerophyl forest