Ecosystems- How Living Things Connect

How much of an impact can one species make on its ecosystem? What would happen if that species became extinct or left the ecosystem?  These four books illustrate for your child just how important a species is to the other living things in its environment.  They can help answer those questions and possibly have your children looking at nature just a little differently!


The following books are perfect for a study on ecosystems, food chains, food webs, animals, or any nature study!



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Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds by Victoria Crenson

This story follows the lives of horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay.  When they lay their eggs on the sandy beach, the reader sees just how many birds depend on those eggs for sustenance!  Many types of birds compete for the eggs and fish in the shallow water find the eggs to eat.  This in turn helps other predators, a falcon grabs a smaller feasting bird and a blue heron caught a minnow attracted by the feast of eggs.  Even in death, the horseshoe crab is providing for others as gulls, mice, and flies eat its remains.  The reader can see how this species plays a huge part in the food web of the ocean ecosystem in which it belongs.  They are essential to the survival of migratory birds making a long trip to the Arctic.  The author ends by showing us the eggs that survived  hatching into new horseshoe crabs.  The circle of life continues.


A Log’s Life by Wendy Pfeffer

This story opens with lots of activity going on in an oak tree, from squirrels to slugs this tree is bustling with life!  Once lightning strikes, a huge log falls from the tree.  The log now becomes shelter for many insects, a porcupine, and a salamander.  Decaying material is eaten by insects.  Eventually, rot takes over and the tree become soil with the help of earthworms. An acorn falls, which a squirrel buries right in this new rich soil that was once the oak tree.



The Wolves are Back by Jean Craighead George

In 1926 all the wolves that lived in Yellowstone National Park were gone. In 1995, ten Canadian wolves were brought to the Yellowstone habitat.  With their return, we see how the delicate balance of the ecosystem is restored.   Through the author’s words, the reader sees how important the wolves are and how they directly and indirectly affect life at Yellowstone.  The book is beautifully written.  My attempt at a summary wouldn’t do it justice!  You have to read this one to see how artfully the author conveys the importance of these animals.


One Day in the Tropical Rainforest by Jean Craighead George

Written by the same author as The Wolves are Back, this is the only chapter book on my list.  While the book shows many aspects of the tropical rainforest ecosystem, there are clear examples of how one species affects the others in its environment.  One of my favorite parts of the book is the description of the sloth as “an apartment house”. Covered in algae and home to more than ninety creatures, a sloth is an ecosystem of its own!  If you like this book, there are more in the series.






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