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Plants in Ecosystems

Plant Biology Learning Framework

Society Learning Goals Articles Sample Learning Objectives
Plants in Ecosystems
How do plants interact with the living and non-living environment?
  • Compare the relative contributions of plants and another photosynthetic organisms like lichens or terrestrial algae to production of food and oxygen on land.
  • Evaluate the statement that plants are the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Chose an example of an interaction between a plant and another organism and elaborate on the ways in which they interact to the benefit of one or both organisms.
  • Choose a plant metabolite that affects other organisms in the ecosystem and explain the mechanism of the effect.
  • Evaluate the geological evidence that plants contributed to glaciation (i.e., ice ages).
  • Contrast the general properties of plants, soil, and fauna on Earth at the time that plants first colonized dry land with the general properties of those organisms today.
  • Analyze the progression of changes in plants and other organisms that occur after a volcanic eruption or a major wildfire.
How do matter and energy move through an ecosystem?
  • Evaluate the claim that energy first enters the ecosystem through photosynthesis; consider relative to chemosynthesis.
  • Create a diagram that illustrates the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and respiration in an ecosystem.
  • Diagram the flow of water through an ecosystem, incorporating photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration.
  • Estimate the impact of a reforestation and/or deforestation project of 1 million hectares on the global carbon cycle.
  • Evaluate the nitrogen runoff into watersheds from fields of nitrogen-fixing crops versus fields of crops fertilized with inorganic nitrogen.
  • Evaluate a current research paper on how plant diversity affects ecosystem resiliency after a disturbance.
  • Consider a situation in which population size or distribution of plants is altered due to changes in climate, herbivore populations, or invasive species, and predict how this might affect other aspects of the ecosystem.


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