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Upper Elementary Science - II
2.4 Ecology and Food Cycles

Close your eyes and imagine it is a cool summer day, and you are sitting on a dock that juts out into a little pond. Look around in your imagination. You might see frogs and toads, turtles and salamanders. You might see dragonflies skimming the surface of the imaginary pond. Flies and mosquitoes too can be found near the pond. If the water is clear you might also see the fish that live under water.

You might have seen plants living near, and even inside the pond. Little plants grow right up to the pondís edge, and plants may even grow underwater.

There are also living beings, so tiny that one canít see them, living in the mud and in the water. All these living things depend on each other, and on the kind of world a pond setting provides. In other words these plants and animals share the pond as their habitat.

Food Cycle

The creatures living in and near the pond depend on one another. Green ferns grow at the edge of the pond. The ferns absorb sunlight from the sunshine. Their roots take in water and nutrients from the muck underwater. The ferns use sunlight, water and nutrients to grow big and healthy.

A tadpole swims up and nibbles on one of the roots. The bass eats the tadpole in one gulp. A few months later the bass grows old and dies. Its body sinks to the bottom of the pond. Down under the water, tiny worms and bacteria, that canít be seen, break down the dead bassís body as they use it for food. Nutrients from the decaying flesh and bones of the bass settle into the soil at the bottom of the pond. The roots of the ferns growing at the waterís edge absorb those nutrients. And so the cycle starts again.

The pondís cycle of nature depends on three groups of living things, called producers, consumers, and decomposers.

Producers make their own food. A plant produces its own food. Plants are producers. In the pond, the plants at the pondís edge are producers.

All living things need energy to live, and all living things need food for the energy. In the pond, the tadpole eats the plants. Then the fish eats the tadpole. The tadpole and the fish are consumers, since both of them consume other living things.

When plants and animals die they provide food for the decomposers. To decompose means to break something down into smaller pieces. In the pond, the little worms and bacteria are decomposers because as they seek food to eat, they decompose the body of the dead fish and break it into smaller pieces. They eat some parts and leave the rest. Those pieces become part of the soil at the bottom of the pond.

This shows how the producers, consumers and decomposers connect in a kind of natural cycle. Plants produce food. Animals eat plants, or they eat other animals that have eaten plants. When plants and animals die, decomposers break down their remains, leaving nutrients in the soil. Plants use those nutrients to produce their own food. And so, like a circle, this cycle of nature goes on and on.

Directions: Answer the following questions.
Q 1: ____________ make their own food.

Q 2: A plant is a

Q 3: The food cycle has an end.

Q 4: The creatures living in and near the pond depend on one another.

Q 5: To decompose means to break something down into smaller pieces.

Q 6: Arrange in a correct sequence: tadpole, worms and bacteria, roots, bass.
tadpole, bass, worms, bacteria, roots,
roots, tadpole, worms, bacteria, bass
roots, tadpole, bass, worms, bacteria

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Question 8: This question is available to subscribers only!

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