Changes in Ecosystems Over Time Science Games

5 games

In this series of games, your students will learn about the ongoing transformation processes of ecosystems. The Changes in Ecosystems Over Time learning objective — based on NGSS and state standards — delivers improved student engagement and academic performance in your classroom, as demonstrated by research.

Scroll down for a preview of this learning objective’s games and the concepts they drive home.

Concepts Covered

The earth’s ecosystems are dynamic, meaning they are constantly changing. These changes can lead to growth of populations as well as decrease.

For example, if an environment gets lots of rain, more plants will grow, creating more food for herbivores, which in turn increases the food supply for carnivores. But if that area experiences a long-term drought, food supplies will decrease, leading to decreases in population up and down the food chain.

Over time, ecosystems’ physical and biological components change, leading to the long-term process of ecological succession. The two types of ecological succession are primary and secondary succession.

Primary succession occurs in environments that don’t currently sustain life, but are capable of doing so. A good example of this is after a volcanic eruption, where lava kills off the life in a region, then hardens into rock.

Eventually, hardy species like lichen, fungi, and bacteria begin to populate the area. These first inhabitants are called pioneer species, and they can pave the way for new species to enter the area, creating a new ecosystem.

Secondary succession happens when an environment is damaged, but at least some species survive, and the ecosystem gradually grows back. For example, a forest fire can cause major destruction, but some seeds and roots can survive and still grow in the soil. Smaller plants usually grow back first, followed by larger bushes and trees, providing sufficient resources for animal populations to grow.

A preview of each game in the learning objective is found below.

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