Reef Food Web & Inhabitants
Overview & objectives: Students will examine coral reef ecosystems and identify different animals, plants and bacteria that live there. They will determine the roles different organisms play and define food chains and food webs found within the coral reef ecosystem.

I can create a food chain using images of coral reef organisms.
I can create an example of a food chain in a coral reef ecosystem to show flow of energy and cycling of matter among reef organisms.
I can give examples of herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, detritivores, and predator/prey relationships found in a coral reef ecosystem.
I can create a food web.
Introduction: The inhabitants of a coral reef.
What Animals Live in a Coral Reef?

For older grades Coral Reef: Unravelling the Web

A brief overview of what producers are and what carnivores, herbivores, omnivores and detritivores eat.
Additional activityRotation 1Rotation 2
WHEREOutside in the courtyardBack of the classroomClassroom whiteboard
WHOTeacherTeacher7/8th grade teachers
MATERIALSCut out pictures of reef animals and use yarn to make the picture a "necklace."• Student worksheet: Everybody Has a Role in a Coral Reef • Scissors • 14 x 20 construction paper (per 2 student team) • Felt markers • GlueLarge Reef background poster
Felt markers
ACTIVITIESUse one picture necklace for each student. Each student will represent one reef animal. Divide students into three groups if you have low numbers use chairs for the coral reef. The first two groups will pair up to become the reef. The final group will be reef “dwellers.” Reef dwellers can be lobsters, shrimp, crabs, octopus, sea slugs, starfish, etc.
All reef animals should find a place around the “coral reef” by hiding under the coral arches formed by the coral pairs.. When the leader says, “Find a hiding place,” reef animals will get up and begin searching for a new hiding place. As in musical chairs, a hiding place (coral) should be removed (broken - like when a boat damages the coral). The broken coral can become reef animals for the next round. When the leader says, “Hide, here comes a predator!” the reef animals will stop their search and hide again. Any animal without a hiding place will be eaten by a shark. Each time a round is played, the shark should “eat” the homeless animal and a hiding place should be taken. Remind students that reefs take a long time to form but can be destroyed in a very short time. Continue the game until there are no more hiding places. Have students talk about ways in which the reef can be destroyed and how these affect the entire reef community.

Notes: Reefs can be destroyed by dropped anchors, oil spills, garbage, erosion, careless divers and snorkelers, and tropical fish collectors.
This can be simplified to just plant, predator, prey for younger grades:

Review the terms: predator, prey, carnivore, omnivore, herbivore, decomposer, detritivore, and scavenger.

Discuss the following words in the vocabulary list: Producers: plants, seaweed or limu. Consumers: omnivores, carnivores, and herbivores. Detritivores: scavengers, decomposers, and micro-decomposers (Decomposers are a special type of detritivores that digest decaying matter).

Review the concepts of food chains and food webs.
Pass out the student worksheet, Everybody Has a Role in a Coral Reef.

Have students give examples from the chart of omnivores, herbivores, carnivores and detritivores, which includes decomposers and scavengers.

Make sure all of the plants and animals are correctly identified before moving onto the next step.

Have students cut apart the animals on the worksheet.

Using the cut out examples of animals, plants and bacteria, have the students create as many food chains as possible.

If time: have students combine the food chains into a food web and glue it to construction paper or add food chains and webs to the class butcher paper of the coral reef ecosystem interactions posted in the classroom.
Credit: NOAA
A slideshow presentation about 5 reef inhabitants and their part in the food.
Then the students will pick an animal from the reef to color and add to the reef drawing.
Differentiation: how will you provide support for different learning abilities? For a complete list click here
Directions given in multiple ways (visual, auditory)
Give a list of information instead of relying on memory or note taking
Provide a summary of information or story
List of vocabulary words given
Use visuals/diagrams liberally
Use graphic organizers
Other: _________________________________________
Number and sequence steps and directions
Allow movement space
Give think time before asking for responses to a question
Check in for understanding of directions
Clear indication of expectations for behavior or work both written and given orally
Break tasks into chunks
Buddy system
NGSS Alignment
Full, more detailed outline of standards & progressions → NGSS Progressions
Earth Science
ESS3.C Human impacts on Earth systems
Life Science
LS1.A Structure and function
LS1.B Growth and development of organisms
LS1.C Organization for matter and energy flow in organisms
LS2.A-Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
LS2.B - Cycles of matter & Energy transfer in Ecosystems
Physical Science
PS3.A Definitions of energy
PS3.B Conservation of energy and energy transfer
Notes, Photos & other resources:
Student worksheet