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Activity 1 : Urban Habitat and Urban Species

Activity Description

Habitat is a crucial concept in wildlife ecology and management, since most of our questions involve figuring out the conditions that species or communities need to thrive.  Urban wildlife species typically have a few habitat and behavioral similarities, and it is often the wildlife ecologist’s job in these areas to facilitate the survival of a few valued wildlife species.  An understanding of habitat and species-specific habitat requirements is therefore necessary.

This lesson is a description of the concept of habitat and then a lecture/discussion on how a species’ life history can be used to figure out its likely habitat.  We then look at the general characteristics of the urban habitat and how this may be favorable or unfavorable to different species.

Estimated Time of Activity: 1.5 hours

Activity Objectives

Students will be able do the following as a result of the activity:

  1. Understand what habitat is and the factors that affect a species’ habitat
  2. Learn what about the urban habitat makes it good for some species and bad for others

Activity Prerequisites

This lesson is the same as the last lesson in tte previous module (i.e., unit).  Habitat is an important concept to scientists working on the larger system as well as those studying only one or a few animal species, and is a way to link the very general "ecosystem studies" to the more specific "wildlife management" concepts that this second module focuses on.  Thus it appears in the end of the general "Urban Ecology" module as well as the beginning of this "Uban Wildlife Management" module.

In other words, if you are doing both modules you don't have to teach this one twice. 

If you are teaching both modules, and have extra time, I would recommend using this time to go over the students' written essays and allow them to write second or third drafts.  Generally, writing assignments in high school consist of writing a paper and turning it in for a grade, whereas in the "real world", written tasks are usually edited and re-edited (and re-written) many times by a group of colleagues.  So it would be advisable to mirror the professional world as often as possible in primary school.

Activity Instructions

  1. This lesson is mainly a lecture, but includes many pictures and opportunities to discuss the subject matter.  I find that students have many questions about this subject, and some questions that may start a discussion are included in the powerpoint.
  2. There are also 2 movies (urban gulls and crows) that can be shown when discussing food sources in the urban environment



  • Students should write a 1-2 page essay on: “Are places that are heavily modified by humans (eg, cities, towns, farms, golf courses) good habitat?”  This question is intentionally vague, as good or bad habitat depends on the species in question.  The goal is to have students understand this idea and be able to talk about habitat in terms of the needs of different species.  

Assessment: Essays will be collected and graded.  It would also be a good idea to fit in time to edit and return the essays and have students rewrite them


  • Powerpoint (link coming soon)
  • Movie files of gull and crows (available on dropbox)

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