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Life in the City

Summary:  In this lesson, students use camera trap data from wildland, rural, and urban areas to determine the effects of human development on wildlife communities. This exercise introduces students to the ecological concepts of species richness, life history traits, and niches, as well as using Google Sheets to make graphs.

Key Questions:

  • How are wildlife species and communities affected by human activities?

  • What makes some species more adaptable to urban life than others?

Learning Goals:

After completing this activity, students will be able to:

  • Explain the difference between “urban”, “rural”, and “wild” land classifications.

  • Quantify an ecological community using species richness.

  • Understand the role of survey effort in determining species richness.

  • Define an ecological niche and the life history traits of litter size, home range size, and body mass.

  • Predict what kinds of species most easily adapt to life in human-dominated areas, based on species life history traits.

  • Graph and analyze data in Google Sheets.


Two 50-minute class periods.


* Lesson plans are available in .doc format for easy customization. This lesson includes 4 sections for easy download. Please contact us with any questions or problems.

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