Dec 192013


Every organism, large and small, is affected by weather.  Some organisms like plants are affected directly by rainfall.  Others are impacted through their food chain relationships.  In the hot-dry tropics found in some parts of Africa, seasonal patterns of rainfall drive one of the most impressive animal migrations in the world.  This activity uses the great African migration to review the water cycle and emphasize how food webs are strongly impacted by rainfall patterns through a hands-on activity.  The food web portion of this exercise can be used independently as a hands-on alternative to pen-and-paper models to review food webs, food web vocabulary, or the importance of biodiversity in ecosystems.  The food web exercise also contains additional scenarios that explore: 1. The importance of taking food webs and animal behavior into account when planning wildlife reserves, 2. How human-animal conflicts can change with rainfall, and 3. What happens when key species go extinct

At the conclusion of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain how changes in the water cycle cause the wet and dry season in Africa
  • Understand/review water cycle and food web vocabulary
  • Illustrate how every animal ultimately depends on rainfall/water availability using an African food web as an example
  • Illustrate how rainfall changes result in changes in the African food web
  • Explain how these food web changes can lead to changes in behavior (migration, increased conflict between carnivores, etc.)
  • Explore how human-caused changes can strongly impact food web patterns


Lesson Plan created by GK-12 Fellows Dani Fegan, Sarah Jones, and Cara Krieg, 2013