The Plastic Flamingo A Natural History Summary

Saturday, April 23, 2022 2:11:42 PM

The Plastic Flamingo A Natural History Summary

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Which animals make up the community? This is a possible extension activity if you would like to do it with your learners. This has only been included in the Teachers Guide as many learners might not be familiar with an underwater environment. Some other examples include: crustaceans such as crabs or crayfish, jellyfish, octopus, other fish species, perhaps a reef shark. Some types of fish could eat other types of fish, the fish can eat the seaweed, the turtles eat the seaweed, the sponges filter the water for plankton. Turn back to the illustration of the wildlife in a game reserve. The different populations interact with each other to form a community. When we look at how the communities interact with the non-living things in their environment, then we are looking at ecology at the ecosystem level.

Think of the different populations of organisms making up a community in Kruger National Park, such as the zebra, elephant, lions, springbok, different trees and grasses. Now look at the photo of some of these populations at a watering hole. In this photo we are studying how the living things interact with the non-living things. For example, the zebra and springbok are drinking water, whilst the elephant is splashing mud over itself to cool down. This is an ecosystem. All the ecosystems on Earth combined make up the biosphere. At the biosphere level, we can study how the living and non-living things interact on a much larger scale.

This includes climate changes, how the Earth has changed over history and even how the movement of planet Earth affects different ecosystems, wind patterns as well as rock and soil formation. This can be done as a short revision task in class or as homework to check what learners understand so far, or you can ask learners the questions orally in class. Suggested answers have been give, but learners must be encouraged to use their own words. The particular branch of science that studies how organisms interact with other organisms and their environment.

A group of organisms of the same species that live in the same area at a specific point in time and they can interbreed with each other. The different living things interact with the non-living things in their environment to make up an ecosystem. The living organisms on Earth live and interact in different ecosystems around the planet. Together all these ecosystems make up the Earth's biosphere. An ecosystem consists of the abiotic non-living environment and the biotic living organisms. Interested in a career in Green Science? Discover the possibilities here! The article in the visit box is about scientists working in 'Green science', particularly studying the interactions between plants and their environment. We have looked a lot at the living organisms in different ecosystems in the last section, but what are some of the abiotic things in ecosystems?

And how do the biotic things interact with the abiotic environment in a system? For each of the animals, discuss how you think the organisms below are interacting with the abiotic environment. In the picture, the blue arrows show the movement of water through the ecosystem. What do we call this movement of water? The water vapour then condenses to form clouds as fine droplets of water. When the water droplets become big enough, they precipitate as rain. The water runs down the slopes and collects in the lower regions such as the pond.

Temperature is an abiotic factor in an ecosystem. What can affect the temperature in the grassland ecosystem? The time of day will affect the temperature as this will affect how much heat energy the ecosystem receives from the Sun depending on the Earth's position. The time of year will also affect the temperature as the ecosystems distance from the sun changes. Weather conditions will also affect the temperature, for example if there are clouds, wind, or it is raining. The direction the area faces will also affect the temperature, for example if it is on a slope. Another abiotic factor which affects ecosystems is the slope of the land. For example, is it flat or are there hills or mountains.

How would you describe the land in the grassland ecosystem? How do you think this contour affects the ecosystem? This grassland ecosystem has a sloped surface. There is a hill on the right hand side and the ground slopes downwards towards the pond. This shape and slope enables the water to run down when it rains and collect in the pond, thereby providing a collection of water for the ecosystem. Play a game to identify specific habitats on Earth. Apart from the recycling water, biotic and abiotic factors also interact to recycle carbon dioxide and oxygen in ecosystems. Photosynthesis in plants uses carbon dioxide to produce glucose.

The plants and animals then break down the sugars and release carbon dioxide again during respiration. Photosynthesis releases oxygen, while plants and animals take it in for respiration. Look at the following illustration which shows how the gases are cycled through a pond ecosystem. There are two labels missing, but lines have been provided for you to fill them in on the diagram. Discuss this with your class and write them in. The arrow starting on the right above the buck should read ' Carbon dioxide released during respiration in plants and animals.

Now that we know a bit more about the different biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem and how they interact, let's study an ecosystem! You can find out lots more online by visiting the links provided in the Visit boxes. Be curious and discover the possibilities! This activity may be given to learners as a project. Learners will mark off parts of an ecosystem and must ideally be able to return to it regularly. You as the teacher must pre-visit the area and find a suitable area for marking off and studying, preferably near a stream or shore.

Ensure that there is enough space for several classes to study the same area without damaging it. Identify organisms and find possible relationships between them. Show learners before the visit how to use equipment correctly and how to keep records. If you have microscopes, teach them how to use these to study soil samples and small organisms. During the visit, you will have to circulate and check on the groups of learners.

As many of the measurements taken will be new concepts and practices, you should explain the reasons for measuring different environmental conditions in the ecosystem. During the investigations it is also important to walk between groups to ensure that they are applying the newly learnt skills appropriately and taking accurate measurements. The leaf litter and soil samples may be studied in the field but could also be studied in the class.

If teachers have taught learners to use basic light microscopes they should encourage them to study these with the use of a microscope too. Learner-dependent answer. If you can find moss or lichen, point out this interaction to learners which shows how a plant grows on a rock interaction between biotic and abiotic. Similarly, plants biotic interact with the soil abiotic when they draw mineral salts and water from the soil. Perhaps there are ants building a nest - point out these interactions to learners.

Lookout for any interactions between animals and with their abiotic environment and point these out to learners. If you are able to take the temperature several times over the course of a day, use this information to plot a graph to show how the temperature changes over the course of the day. Learners might have learned about soil types in previous grades in Earth and Beyond. This acts as a revision of what they have learned. You can easily make your own rain gauges by cutting the top off a 2 litre plastic bottle and inverting the top half into the bottom half to form a tunnel. You can use a marker pen to write measurements on the side of the plastic bottle. Build your own wind meter. Explain how you think the abiotic factors of the ecosystem you studied affect the plants and animals in your ecosystem.

Learners should take note of the water resources in their square, the slope of the land, and the type of soil and how this affects the organisms. Learners should take note of any feeding relationships that may exist. We will be studying this in more detail next, but learners would have done this in previous grades. In the area that you studied, was there any evidence of human interference? For example, rubbish or a pathway? How did this impact on the living organisms and also the abiotic factors in your square? What suggestions can you make to prevent this kind of interference. Perhaps there is litter which is blocking a stream, or that animals can eat and choke on. Perhaps there is a path that humans walk on, resulting in them trampling the plants so that nothing grows there.

Learners could suggest putting some rubbish bins nearby, or perhaps mark off the area so that people have to walk around, etc. Do you think that your presence while you made your observations had an influence on the animals or plants in the quadrant that you observed? Learners may observe that insects or other small animals scurried away from them when they approached their quadrant. Possible areas to evaluate might include:. We studied relatively small ecosystems. How big can an ecosystem be?

Does size in an ecosystem matter? The size of a real ecosystem is not defined in terms of area, but rather by the interactions that occur inside it. It can be as small as a river bank or as large as the Kruger National Park. Within an ecosystem the species living in a particular area can interact in different ways with each other. We can classify the interactions between organisms as follows:. When two species in an ecosystem need to share a valuable and often limited resource. The two different species compete with each other for the same resources, especially food.

Symbiosis describes the way in which two different species living together in the same community, interact with each other over a long time period. This can occur in the form of parasitism, mutualism or commensalism. Some ants have fungi farms that they carefully look after and protect, providing the fungi with organic matter to fertilse it, while the fungi provides the ants with nutrients. A video of leaf cutter ants tending to their fungi farm. Feeding: Different species in an ecosystem are related and interact when one species can use the other species as a food source.

For example, in predator-prey relationships, the one species predator will hunt another species prey. A hummingbird feeding. Plants on a forest floor. An egret waiting for the rhino to disturb insects to eat. The sea anemone protects the clown fish from predators, the clown fish feeds on small invertebrates which might harm the anemone and the anemone also gets nutrients from the fish's fecal matter. The egret benefits as it waits for the rhino to disturb insects in the grass as it moves along feeding. The rhino is not harmed and does not benefit from the relationship.

Now that we know how organisms interact with each other, we will take a closer look at the feedings relationships between different organisms. Learners should have learned about food chains and food webs in previous grades. Therefore, some of this content is revision, but the concepts have also been extended to make it more engaging at this level. In the last section we saw how organisms from different species interact within an ecosystem. Let's now take a closer look at how organisms interact through their feeding relationships.

Living organisms need to feed to be able to perform the other life processes. Some organisms can produce their own food, such as plants, while other organisms cannot do this and need to feed on other organisms to obtain their energy. We can therefore identify different feeding types in an ecosystem, based on how the organism obtains gets its food. There are producers and consumers. Producers are organisms that are able to produce their own organic food. They do not need to eat other organisms to do this. Producers are also called autotrophs.

Which organisms have you come across that can make their own food? The term autotroph comes from the Greek words autos meaning 'self' and trophe meaning 'nourishing'. So autotroph means 'self-feeding'. Plants are producers because they make their own food during photosynthesis. What do plants need in order to photosynthesise? In , deep sea researchers discovered mussels living in symbiosis with bacteria that use hydrogen as a fuel source in chemosynthesis. These are the first organisms discovered to do so! Organisms which cannot produce their own food need to eat other organisms to get food. These organisms are called consumers. All animals are consumers as they cannot produce their own food.

Consumers are also called heterotrophs. The term heterotroph comes from the Greek words heteros meaning 'different' and trophe meaning 'nourishing'. So heterotroph means 'different-feeding' or feeding on different things. There are many types of consumers and we can classify them into specific groups depending on the food that they consume. These are:. This activity is intended to build on previous knowledge of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores, and introduces concepts of insectivores and scavengers, which learners might have incidental knowledge of but might not have defined themselves. The activity requires that they engage with their existing knowledge and use this to define the terms.

Teachers should walk between groups and ensure that they use scientific vocabulary as taught in this and previous sections as well as the New Word List, in their definitions. What is a herbivore? Write a definition below and then give four examples of animals from the images which are herbivores. A herbivore is an animal which feeds on plant material. Examples of herbivores are: elephant, duck, horse, buffalo, squirrel, grasshopper, rhino, zebra, cow, mouse, etc.

What is a carnivore? Write a definition below and then give four examples of animals from the images which are carnivores. A carnivore is an animal which eats other animals living or dead. Examples of carnivores are: lion, jackal, dolphin, crocodile, shark, leopard, mosquito, vulture, crab, seal, etc. There are different types of carnivores. Some carnivores hunt other animals. They are called predators. The animals that they hunt are called prey. A lion is an example of a predator. Give three examples from the images of animals which are prey of the lion. Other types of carnivores are called scavengers as they eat dead meat, for example a hyena.

There are three other scavengers in the images. Identify them and write the names below. The following animals are also all carnivores. They all have a similar diet. Do you know what they all eat? Find out what these animals eat. What do we call animals that eat both plants and other animals? Give one example from the pictures. An animal which eats both plants and other animals is an omnivore. The last group of animals that we can discuss from this image are the decomposers.

Decomposers break down the remains of dead plants and animals. Give an example of a decomposer from the image. Study the soil again. Use the hand lens to see if there are any decomposers that you can see or see evidence of in your ecosystem. Describe any decomposers that you found below. In the last activity, we looked at different consumers. The examples that we studied were all different types of animals. But what about the other kingdoms, such as fungi? You might remember learning about fungi in previous grades.

Fungi are not plants. Fungi cannot photosynthesise as they do not have chlorophyll. So where do fungi get their food from? What do you notice about where these mushrooms are growing? What are they mostly growing on? Is it dead or alive? The mushrooms get their nutrients from what they are growing on. At the same time, they are breaking down this dead matter. What can we therefore call fungi? When fungi, and other decomposers, break down dead material, they help to return nutrients to the soil. Write a few sentences where you explain why you think decomposers are important in an ecosystem and how they help an ecosystem to function. Decomposers break down the matter in dead organisms to release the nutrients such as water and carbon, back into the ecosystem.

These nutrients are therefore recycled and made available for other organisms to use. They also help to keep an ecosystem 'clean' as they make sure that dead and decaying material is not left lying around in an ecosystem for an extended period. We now know that the different organisms in an ecosystem are related by how they feed. We have seen that organisms from one species eat other organisms from another species. How can we link these feeding relationships together to describe how the energy is transferred in an ecosystem from the producers to the consumers?

The flow of energy from the sun to different organisms in an ecosystem is very important as it supports all the life process of living organisms. In this section we will look more closely at the way in which energy flows from the sun to different organisms in order to support and sustain life on Earth. Energy is vital for organisms to carry out their life processes. All energy in food webs comes from the sun. Plants trap sunlight energy during photosynthesis and convert it to chemical potential energy in food compounds, which are available to animals.

Herbivores get energy directly from plants, but carnivores and omnivores eat animals for energy. This energy transfer is shown by food chains. Play the food chain game! The rat also actually eats seeds and other plants. Therefore, what do we call the rat? Give a reason for your answer. Yes, it does make a difference. The arrows show the direction in which the energy is transferred as one organism eats the other one, always from the producers to the consumers. Use the following space to draw three more food chains. Use organisms from the ecosystem that you are studying at or near your school in at least two of the food chains you draw. Learner's food chains must start with a green plant producer , or part of a green plant, such as a fruit or wheat.

Make sure they have used the arrows in the correct direction, and that they have three levels of consumers. They could say that decomposers would come at the end of the food chain as they break down the bodies of the dead organisms. Or they are often put at the side, with many arrows from all levels of the food chain as they break down all the dead organisms at every level.

Can you see how the above food chain describes how the energy is passed along from the producer to the consumers? But, there are three different consumers in this food chain. How can we distinguish between the different consumers? Encourage learners to write the levels into the diagram. The grasshopper is the primary consumer, the rat is the secondary consumer and the owl is the tertiary consumer. Each of these levels in the food chain is called a trophic level. This loss of energy at each trophic level can be shown by an energy pyramid. But, why do we show it in the shape of a pyramid?

Let's find out. A video on energy pyramids. Why do you think this happens? Discuss this in your class and write your answer down below. Learners might need help with this question, so ask them leading questions such as, what do the organisms in each level need energy for? Therefore, to provide enough energy for the subsequent trophic levels, there needs to be many plants as primary producers. Compare the amount of producers with the amount of secondary consumers.

Why does there seem to be such a large difference in numbers? Read the following quote and draw an energy pyramid with five trophic levels in the space provided:. The trout, in turn, must consume 90 frogs, that must consume 27 million grasshoppers that live off tons of grass. Consumers have different sources of food in an ecosystem and do not only rely on only one species for their food. If we put all the food chains within an ecosystem together, then we end up with many interconnected food chains. This is called a food web. A food web is very useful to show the many different feeding relationships between different species within an ecosystem.

Plankton is a term to describe organisms that live in the water and can't swim against a current. Phytoplankton are microscopic plant-like organisms and zooplankton are tiny animal-like organisms. Use the following space to write down 4 different food chains from this food web. Refer to the ecosystem that you are currently studying. See if you can identify the food web that is applicable in your marked off ecosystem. Draw it below. What do you think would happen to the marine ecosystem in the last activity if we removed the phytoplankton? This brings us to the next section. In this section will examine the balance between the different trophic levels in ecosystems, since all organisms in the ecosystem have to rely on the resources the area can supply.

Any area can only support a limited number of animals. Look at the ecosystem below and decide which resources the organisms depend on. Remember to take some notes. Use this as an entry point into this section. The resources that organisms depend on are food, shelter and water. Ask learners questions such as, what would happen if there was a drought and all the grass died, or there was a fire that swept through and burned all the plants, or what happened if all the zebra got a disease and died?

The ecosystem would become imbalanced in some way. If all the grass and trees die, what would happen to the zebra and elephants? What would later happen to the cheetah and hyena? Why is this? The balance in an ecosystem refers to how many animals it can support for long periods. If the balance is upset, the whole system could fail. In Gr. If there is time, show learners this brief video about the mysterious disappearance of honeybees that has many people worried and alarmed! Afterwards, lead a class discussion in which you ask the learners what effect the loss of honey bees would have on the ecosystem.

Try your hand at balancing a jungle ecosystem! One of the factors that we can look at within an ecosystem to see if it is balanced is the population growth of different species over time. Over time ecological populations interact and change within a community. All populations change over time and grow. The population growth of a species in the wild is kept in balance by a number of different factors. Human intervention can sometimes cause serious damage to an animal population, such as the critically endangered Riverine Rabbit.

There are fewer than individuals left in South Africa. It only eats from a few plant types, so its habitat is restricted to where these plants are found, like small areas of the Karroo. During the day, it hides under bushes on the river banks, but many of its home areas have been invaded by humans or destroyed. Explain the different limiting factors on the population growth of the Riverine Rabbit using the information in the diagram. The main goal of any species is to reproduce and ensure the survival of the species. Factors beyond the control of the species often influence this and limit the growth of the population, as with the Riverine Rabbit. These disruptions cause an imbalance in the ecosystem and can affect the organisms that live there as well as the ecosystem as a whole.

Natural disasters like floods or hurricanes can cause severe disruptions to ecosystems, but the ecosystems recover eventually. If the change occurs over long periods, like climate change and global warming, the damage may not be reversible. For example, there are many different theories about why the dinosaurs become extinct. One of the main theories is a sudden change in climate. This sudden change, whether it was due to a meteor striking earth or not, disrupted the balance in the ecosystems. It was to such an extent that all the dinosaurs died out. A simulation of a meteor striking Earth video. In the s a devastating drought and famine raged in Ethiopia and caused the death of people. Many animals, plants and microorganisms also died and species that depend on water for their reproductive cycle, like amphibians, were particularly badly affected.

Drought makes plants die, so animals that eat them also die. This decreases food for humans, as crops and farm animals die as well. A famine is often accompanied by the spread of diseases amongst animals and humans. Why do you think this is so? Do you think the effects of a drought and famine on an ecosystem are reversible or irreversible? It is usually reversible, but ecosystems can take a very long time to recover from severe droughts. Why is a drought more likely to cause an imbalance rather than a month which receives a lower rainfall than usual?

Droughts last much longer than just one season of low rainfall. Water resources are so low during a drought that most organisms die. Perhaps discuss this with your learners before they write their answer down. Ecosystems are fairly robust and can cope with fluctuations in climate over the year. However, an imbalance results if the climate changes very suddenly or else changes and remains like that for a long period of time. Many years ago, people like the San had little impact on their environment, as they lived in harmony with the land and only took what food they could carry.

Modern man has, however, had a huge effect on nature. We clear land to build cities, roads and farms, we pollute the environment and produce waste and litter. Humans also poach endangered animals and over-harvest marine animals, causing lasting damage to ecosystems. In , rhinos were poached in South Africa for their horns. By late June , only half way through the year, rhinos had already been poached! This is a massive increase since , when only 7 rhinos were poached. Illegal hunting poaching of animals and the killing of wild animals for 'bush meat' in many parts of Southern Africa is of serious concern to environmentalists and is driving some species close to extinction.

Poor communities often rely on small wild animals they can trap for food, but removing too many of the smaller animals could force the carnivores like lions, leopards and wild dogs that eat them to turn to domestic animals like sheep or cattle for food. For this reason, farmers may go out and shoot even more of them. The carnivores themselves sometimes get caught in the traps. Although hunting and finding bushmeat have been traditional ways of getting food for many generations, the current 'over-hunting' is causing concern.

Dr Rene Czudec of FAO commented: "There is an urgent need to look for solutions to ensure the sustainable use of SA's wildlife, while still helping to develop poor communities". The San only took what they needed, their traps were well set and their numbers were small. Today's people set traps badly, so the wrong animals are killed and then often not eaten.

There are also a lot more people doing it now. Many people are poor and cannot afford to buy the more expensive meat in stores so rather buy much cheaper meat from illegal traders. Some people from local communities that live on the edge of protected reserves, sneak into the reserves and illegally kill wildlife for food. Do you think this is justified? What do you think some solutions to the problem could be? Note: Encourage learners to express their opinion about this and have a debate in class. Some will feel it's wrong to exclude people from traditional food sources, others feel it's more important to protect the animals and find other ways of helping people.

When animals are poached, they are killed at a faster rate than their population can grow. They may become extinct. In the article, wildlife is poached for the meat to be sold as food. What two other animals that are poached in southern African game reserves and why are they poached? Abalone Perlemoen are edible sea snails sold as a delicacy in Asia. Although they are farmed, many are removed illegally by divers, causing a serious decrease in their numbers. The natural predators of abalone have too little food so other species are eaten instead. Note: Local people who use Perlemoen as food for their families are also stopped from removing them. Cape gangsters have taken over the illegal Perlemoen trade because of the huge amounts of money involved.

It is illegal to buy or sell Perlemoen! In the northern provinces in South Africa, Mopani worms are a traditional source of high protein seasonal food found in the area. Each year, more and more are being eaten so that they are now hard to find. We say they are becoming locally extinct. The secondary consumers that eat them will have less food, so they eat more of other animals, which also become endangered.

Secondary consumers that eat only these worms may become extinct directly. Another way in which humans have a huge impact on the environment and cause disruption to ecosystems is through pollution. There are many different types of pollution. Are you aware of the ways in which you are contributing to pollution? There are different types of pollution, as listed below. For each one, discuss it with your partner and write a short description of the pollution, where it can come from. You can also start this first part of the activity as a class discussion. Ask learners what types of water resources are polluted and how.

What pollutes the air? Where does our waste from our homes go? Below are some points for the discussion. Assess your own life. Where have you perhaps contributed to the types of pollution mentioned above? This links to the last section on conservation of ecosystems. Note: Some answers include that the first poster is trying to convince us to think twice before throwing something away. We should rather recycle it or think of how it can be reused. We can also buy things with the minimum packaging and reduce the number of plastic bags we use. The second poster is playing on the words of having a 'plan B'.

In this case however, we have no plan B for planet Earth - there is no second Earth or any other planet that we can live on. We only have this planet and we need to look after it. A very important note about this section is to point out the misconception that organisms adapt. This is incorrect as individual organisms do not adapt, it is the populations or species which adapt over time. Individual organisms have adaptations which make them better suited to their environment. The points in CAPS are a misconception and should be reworded as follows:. Be sure to make it clear that it is species or populations of organisms that adapt, and not individual organisms.

Organisms in ecosystems face competition, predation, parasitism and human influence, all of which could affect them negatively, forcing them to adapt , move away or die. It is well known that SA has undergone big climatic changes in the past. For example, the dry Karoo was once swampy and the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn were once under water. When Southern Africa rose out of the sea millions of years ago, organisms that could not adapt to the new, drier terrestrial environment became extinct, but individuals that could adapt, survived and formed new populations.

These adaptations could be changes in the organism's structure, function or behaviour over very long time periods. Only populations of organisms that happen to have suitable characteristics are able to survive in changing conditions within an environment. They are 'selected by nature' to survive. Those species that do not adapt will die out and become extinct.

These changes take place over a long time period within a species and must be passed on from generation to generation. Over time and over many generations, these adaptations in the individual organisms will allow the species to evolve and adapt to its changing environment. Let's have a look at some of the adaptations of plants and animals. Animals have different adaptations which have enabled different species to live and function in different areas. Let's look at some of the animals that live in our country and how they have adapted to live in their environments.

Aardvark: It has a flexible, tubular tongue up to 30cm long as well as thick skin and short, powerful legs with strong claws for digging into termite mounds, its favourite food. These ants are then collected by the tongue - up to 50 in one night! It hides underground in daytime to escape heat and predators. Body adapted to dig and reach into nests to get prey; little hair as lives in hot climate; has shovel-like claws and powerful short limbs, long sticky tongue to pick up and eat the ants. Structural : longer snout and tongue; thick skin to protect it from termite and ant bites; powerful limbs to dig in any soil. Behavioural : nocturnal - hunts at night when cool; hides in tunnels from predators.

Desert beetles : They have ridges on their backs for collecting mist in the Namib Desert at night. Long back legs tilt the body, so mist is collected, condenses and runs via channels and grooves into their mouths. Body adapted with grooves and ridges to channel tiny droplets to the mouth; the hind legs are longer and stronger to keep the beetle in this position for a long time. Behavioural : nocturnal habits, it stands in the specific position all night while water droplets condense on its body.

Gemsbok : This striking antelope from the Kalahari Desert prefers grass and shrubs, but will dig for roots and tubers if it needs water. They save water by not sweating and sleep in the shade during the day. If they can not find shade, they turn the body's lightest side to the sun. Body colour pattern help it to blend into surroundings; also lighter colouring can face the fiercest angles from the sun if no shade; can extract water from plants that it eats. Functional : extract all available water from plants it eats; does not lose much water or energy as it does notr sweat.

Behavioural : seeks shade during hottest hours of the day; turns the lightest part of its body to the sun if no shade is available; can change eating patterns if normal diet of grass is not available. Ostrich : These are the biggest and heaviest birds, but they can't fly. Ostriches swallow small stones to help digest any food they find. Male ostriches get red beaks in the mating season. The female lays eggs and she sits on them during the day, while the male incubates them at night - examine their colour differences to see why. Ostriches have a long toe and claw to fight predators and escape; eggs remain dormant until heat of breeding male and female's bodies starts their development.

Male and female share nesting duties. Their bodies are specially camouflaged: male has black feathers to be camouflaged at night when it is on the nest; female has speckled dusty coloured feathers to be camouflaged during the day when she is on the nest. Structural : strong toe and leg muscles help it to run fast; male beak turns red to signal female that it is ready to breed. Behavioural : male sits on nest at night and female on nest during day as they take turns to nest; ostriches eat pebbles to help digestion as they do not have teeth; female lays just enough eggs to cover with body. Stick and leaf in sect: These insects look like leaves or sticks to avoid predators - this is called mimicry.

They feed on plant materials at night and move very slowly to avoid being seen. Female stick insects can reproduce without mating. Body adapted to mimic leaf or stick; moves very slowly to seem like a branch or leaf moving; nocturnal to avoid being seen in daylight by predators; stick insects can reproduce without male insects. Behavioural : nocturnal as it feeds under cover of darkness; moves slowly to not attract predators.

Many species of animals display an interesting behavioural adaptation called migration. This occurs when an animal or a group of animals move between different areas at different times or periods. Wildebeest migrating in the Masai Mara. Wildebeest migrate long distances each year which coincides with the pattern of rainfall and grass growth. The sardine run as sardines migrate along the South African coastline. The sardine run occurs along the African coast during May to July each year when billions of sardines migrate to the north east coast of South Africa. There are actually many theories about why the sardine run occurs, and it is still poorly understood. The most likely reason is that it is a seasonal reproductive migration.

Watch underwater footage of the amazing sardine run that occurs each year from May to July. A video on wildebeest migration. Animals that don't migrate sometimes go into an inactive state called hibernation in winter. Some of them sleep through a whole winter, while some frogs hibernate by burrowing into the mud when the pond dries up, until the rains return. Frogs have a special chemical in their bodies that prevents their blood from freezing completely - a kind of natural antifreeze!

Its deep roots reach ground water easily and the small leaves prevent dehydration, while still being well exposed to light due to the umbrella shape of the tree. Why does it need light? The more exposure to sunlight, the higher the rate of photosynthesis. Encourage your learners to take notes when you discuss topics in class. The Baobab tree survives in dry areas, since it stores water in the thick trunk and spongy wood. The smooth bark reflects heat, making it cooler, but also helps protect the fruits from monkeys. How can it do this? The slippery surface also helps prevent monkeys and other small animals from climbing up and eating its leaves and fruit! The flowers smell like rotting meat to attract bats, flies and moths at night.

Why do you think the baobab tree needs to attract these animals to its flowers? The fruit bats come to feed on the flowers and the nectar and in turn they pollinate the baobab flowers. The name ' Lithops ' comes from two Ancient Greek words lithos meaning 'stone' and ops meaning 'face'. So, Lithops means 'stone-faced'! Why do you think the plants have such different patterns on their surfaces? How does this help them to survive in their environment? The Lithops plants are camouflaged to look like stones and blend in with their rocky soil that they grow in. They are therefore not usually seen by herbivores which might eat them.

This adaptation protects them from being eaten. Lithops plants are classified as succulents. What does this mean? What type of environment are succulents adapted to live in? Succulents are plants which are adapted to live in hot, arid environments and they have thickened, fleshy leaves and stems to store water. Lithops leaves are fleshy and mainly underground, and the stem is short. Flowers grow between the leaves, which shrink to below ground level during drought.

How does this help the plant survive? The fact that the leaves are mostly underground helps the plant to conserve water because as little as possible is exposed to the hot environment so this reduces water loss. During drought, the leaves shrink even further underground to try to conserve water even more. If the leaves are reddish-brown and mainly underground, where is the chlorophyll? Examine these dug-up stone plants. Most of the leaf and hence the green chlorophyll is located on the underneath side of the plant underground. This is a thin section of a stone plant under a hand lens. Draw a diagram of it and label the top of the leaves, the split between the leaves and the stem.

Indicate where the soil level would be. What is stored in the clear area of the leaves? The upper patterned surface acts as a window. Can you see the clear, fleshy middle parts of the leaves? Do you think light can travel through this? How does this allow the plant to photosynthesise? The upper part of the leaves acts as window and lets light through. As the interior of the leaves is transparent, the sunlight can travel through to the bottom parts of the leaves which are underground and contain the chlorophyll in order to photosynthesise.

This allows the plant to have a coloured, patterned upper surface to camouflage it from herbivores, but still allows that sunlight to travel through for photosynthesis. Our country is one of the most naturally diverse in the world. This means that we have many different species and habitats and ecosystems here, more than most other places in the world. Our country's natural beauty and diversity attract thousands of tourists each year, but it is under severe threat from poaching, pollution and other human influence.

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