“Putting Animals in our Ecosystems”

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Ecology of the Southwest

In-Class Oral Presentations:

“Putting Animals in our Ecosystems”

Survey of SW Ecological Communities

During this segment of the course, we will be surveying the diversity of ecosystems found in the Southwest. In general, ecosystems (or life zones) are defined by their plant communities. This reflects the nature of vegetation: it stands still, and is very strongly constrained by climatic and other environmental factors. After all, animals can often (though not always) move to better climes if things start to change; plants are stuck where they’re rooted, and so they make pretty good indicators of what’s going on in the environment of a particular habitat.

Combine these facts with the fact that your Professor already has a strong pro-plant bias, and… well, the animal lovers among you may feel you’re just about doomed. But fear not! You and your class-mates are going to amend the situation, and I’ll try to help.

Each day when we begin discussing a new “life zone” or plant community, there will be an opportunity for two of you to present background information on animal species that are indicative of or commonly found in that particular habitat, with emphasis on their interactions with a plant or plants, or with another animal. Each of you will make one presentation during the course of the semester, and you will work (& present) in pairs to emphasize the interaction between your two species. Most presentations will be during class sessions, though a few may occur during labs or on field trips (see sign-up sheet).
Presentations will be brief (12 minutes, with 3 minutes for questions, for a total of 15 minutes) and should be accompanied by visual aids of some sort. e.g.: overheads, powerpoint slides, photographs, drawings, posters, etc.
You will need to tell us:

- the animal’s and plant’s (or second animal’s) common & scientific names

- what habitat(s) the organisms prefer and how they relate to the community

we’re discussing currently (this is important!)

- briefly describe each species, show pictures, explain any interesting life

history information you feel we should know

- the main part of your presentation should be a discussion of the animal-plant

or animal-animal interaction you researched:

  1. What type of interaction is it?

  2. Describe the interaction in some detail

  3. What impact does the interaction have on each species, and on the community as a whole?

  4. What is the status of this species interaction? – are either of the organisms threatened in any way, is rarity of one affecting abundance of the other, etc.

You may gather information from many possible sources, beginning (but not ending) with your textbooks. You will need at least 4 different sources of information for this assignment: 1 textbook, 1-2 internet, and 1-2 other (popular magazine, book or scientific journal, for example). Include references to these sources in your visual presentation.

Before your presentation, your team will turn in a 1-2 page printed document that summarizes your main points. It may be written in outline form, or may be the printed summary of a powerpoint presentation. It must include your complete list of references.
Your presentation (including the written summary) is worth 25 points per person. You will be graded on content and presentation style – see the grading rubric in this packet for details. Both presenters must be equally involved in the research and presentation of your species pair. I will ask you to fill out a short, confidential evaluation form after you present, where you will evaluate your and your teammate’s performance in this endeavor.


You are ALL responsible for learning the material presented (it makes good exam Q’s)! For example, on an exam I might ask you to name and describe one animal-plant interaction from a given ecosystem, and be able to explain its significance in that ecosystem.
SO: Be a good audience: listen, be interested, and ASK QUESTIONS!! !

Scoring Rubric for Oral Presentations (25 pts)

(Animal Presentations)

Level of Achievement

General Presentation


(25 pts)

 Provides a clear and thorough introduction to topic

 Addresses the points required

 Presents information in a logical order

 Uses clear speaking voice, formal language, and good eye contact with audience

 Demonstrates an accurate and complete understanding of the topic

 Uses several specific examples or details to inform audience about topic

(21 pts)

Combination of above traits, but less consistently represented (1-2 errors)

 Same as above but less thorough, still accurate

 Demonstrates an accurate understanding of the topic

 Uses only one example or detail to describe topic

(18 pts)

 Does not address the required points explicitly, though does so tangentially

 Presents some information in a logical order

Uses adequate speaking style, but not always formal language or good eye contact

 Demonstrates minimal understanding of topic, though still accurate

 Uses a small subset of possible details to describe

Needs Improvement
(15 pts)

 Does not address the required points

 Is not clearly or logically organized

 Fails to use acceptable speaking style

 Does not demonstrate understanding of the topic, inaccurate

 Does not provide examples or details

No Answer
(0 pts)



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