Introduction and materials

Weddell seal pup climbing out of a hole in the ice
Weddell seal pup climbing out of ice hole during spring (Photo: Didier Monselesan)
Satellite image of emperor penguin colony at Halley Bay

This unit on nature will enable students to understand and appreciate the special environmental qualities and major components of the Antarctic ecosystem.

Students will explore the Antarctic food web, the physical and behavioural adaptations of the animals and discover techniques for estimating populations sizes. They will explore major components of this ecosystem from plankton and krill, to sea birds, penguins, seals and whales. The activities will lead to an understanding of food webs, animals and their adaptations, and the effect of introduced species.

  • What are the nature and dynamics of the Antarctic food web and what threat do introduced species pose?
  • What are the particular physical and behavioural characteristics of krill, albatrosses, penguins and seals? How have they adapted to the Antarctic environment?
  • How do we estimate the numbers of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic animals?

The activities will lead to an understanding of food webs, animals and their adaptations to the harsh Antarctic environment, and the effect of introduced species. They look at sampling techniques and analyse data. They develop both an understanding of how every species in the ecosystem is interdependent, and develop an awareness of environmental issues.

Materials

Useful information - books, videos, websites and places to visit - is listed in the references and resources section.

This page was last modified on January 23, 2014.