Araceli B - Predator-Prey Interaction

Lesson Plan for 6th Grade Earth Science
Duration: 53 minutes

Principle(s) Investigated

  • SWBAT record the populations changes of a predator and prey and use the information to create a graph that shows the changes of the populations at various times.
  • SWBAT analyze the how the predator and prey populations of rabbits and coyotes affect each other. 
  • SWBAT determine how matter is transfered between a predator and prey.

California Content Standards Addressed for Earth Science:

  •  Standard 6:

    • b. Students know matter is transferred over time from one organism to others in the food web and between organisms and the physical environment.

    • c. Students know populations of organisms can be categorized by the functions they serve in an ecosystem.


  • Lab worksheet
  • envelope for different years and the various populations


  • Hypothesis:
    • Students will predict how the wolf and rabbit populations will affect each other and what the trend or pattern will be.
  • Procedure:
    • Students will be assigned into collaborative groups of 3-4.
    • Each group will be counting the population of coyote and rabbit population in a habitat from the years 1910 to 2010 in intervals of 10 years.
    • Each group will be given an envelope corresponding to a specific year.  Inside each envelop there will be cut out images of rabbits and coyotes. Students will count the population for each population and record the population of the rabbits and coyotes separately on a table.
    • Each group will have to record the population of wolves and rabbits for each of the years observed from 1910 to 2010.
  • Analysis
    • Using the data of the rabbit and wolf population students will create a scatter plot of the the recoded data and should look like the following(click on image to see enlarged version):
  • Analysis
    • Students will analyze the data and the graph by answering guiding questions in the lab worksheet.
  • Conclusion
    • Students will go back to their hypothesis and state if their hypothesis was proven or disproven and then they will make a conclusion of what actually happened.

Student Prior Knowledge:

  • Students will know how matter and energy transfer between organisms in the food chain.


  • What is happening in the predator prey cycle is cyclical population change of the rabbit and wolf populaiton.  Both populations affect each others populations. 
    • The rabbit population affects the wolf population when the rabbit population is increasing and decreasing.  When the rabbit population is increasing the wolves have more food for energy, so more wolves are better able to survive.  In counteraction with this, the wolf population reaches an apex more wolves are eating rabbits, so the population of rabbits decreases.  After the rabbit population begins to decrease the wolf population decreases as well because less wolves are able to survive with less rabbits to eat.  when both the rabbit and the wolf population have reached a low point the rabbit population begins to increase since there are not as many wolves to eat the rabbits.

Questions and Answers: