This ecology unit aligns with the VCAA VCE Biology Curriculum Unit 1, accreditation period 2016-2020. It covers all the key knowledge elaborations in Unit 1, Area of Study 2: relationships between organisms within an ecosystem.

Alien Invasion

Teaching sequence for: VCE Biology Unit 1, Area of Study 2, Outcome 2

1 module

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The teaching resources are comprised of seven activities that will take approximately six hours to complete. The activities are sequenced to tell a particular ecological story and should be completed in order. Each activity contains detailed step-by-step instructions for the teacher, with all relevant ecology concepts explained with model answers for student worksheets. All resources are provided, such as videos, student handouts and worksheets.

Students learn key ecology concepts through a detailed case study of one of the most important and compelling ecological stories of Australia in modern times: the introduction of rabbits and foxes. Students begin in pre-European times by building a food web representing the arid zone of central Australia. Using this food web, they model catastrophic changes brought about by the introduction of rabbits, foxes and cats. They then focus on Arid Recovery, a conservation program in Central Australia designed to tackle the invasive species problem. Through Arid Recovery and the ecologists working there, students learn about contemporary conservation efforts and the work that ecologists do. Students work through the different trophic levels of the ecosystem and, engaging with real data from Arid Recovery, investigate how factors such as disease, predation and competition impact on the size and density of a population of a particular species. They explore the impact of keystone species and the controversial idea of reintroducing the dingo. Throughout the unit students engage with the work that ecologists do including transects, controlled experiments and modelling. In the final activity, students engage with a contemporary debate in conservation: should species be conserved through a small number of tightly controlled reserves, or through landscape-level management with less control? Arid Recovery are currently investigating this issue by considering the merits of fenced reserves verses the reintroduction of dingoes to large parts of the arid zone. By engaging with this issue, students reflect on the important issues that ecologists are considering today not only in Australia but around the world.

Students build key science skills in data analysis and interpretation, as specified in the VCAA VCE Biology Curriculum. In particular, they make predictions, construct bar charts and line graphs using raw data, interpret graphs and extracts from scientific reports, and consider whether experimental evidence supports a proposition.

VCE Biology (2016-2020)

Unit 1, Area of Study 2, Outcome 2, VCE Biology Study Design

Key Knowledge

Relationships between organisms within an ecosystem

VCE key science skills

Learning outcomes

Students should be able to:

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Thanks to the following for contributing to the development of these sequences:

Special thanks to Ian Bentley and Mary Vamvakas