Wildlife Encounters - 5th - 8th grade
Lesson 1: Illinois Habitats

Key Words

Amphibian: an animal with a backbone that cannot control its own body temperature, has moist skin, and spends at least part of its lifecycle in water. Frogs, toads, and salamanders are amphibians.


Biome: a specific type of ecosystem (such as a forest, desert, or ocean).


Bird: an animal that can control its own body temperature, has a backbone, has feathers, lays eggs, and has wings instead of arms. Ducks, hawks, robins, and herons are all birds.


Carnivore: an animal that only eats other animals. Red tailed hawks are carnivores.


Cohabitation: the act of living together in a shared space without having a positive or negative impact on each other.


Competition: in nature, competition refers to animals that need the same type of food or shelter, where not enough of one or the other is present for all of them. Animals must then compete with each other for these resources.


Conservation: managing an area or resources (such as a lake) in such a way to prevent damage to the habitat it provides.


Ecosystem: the living and non-living things of a habitat and how they interact with each other.


Food Web: the interactions between different organism in a habitat.


Foraging: the act of searching for food.


Habitat: the environment in which a plant or animal normally lives, finds food and water, and reproduces.


Herbivore: an animal that only eats plants. Eastern cotton tail rabbits are herbivores.

Mammal: an animal that can control its own body temperature, has a backbone, that nourishes its young with milk, and usually has hair. Humans, dogs, whales, and bats are all mammals.


Natural History: the study of plants and animals as they live in nature (how they find food, where they nest, and how they interact with other living things).


Nesting: a behavior of some animals (such as birds) in which they make a special shelter to lay eggs or raise their young.


Niche: the special role that a living thing plays in an ecosystem.


Omnivore: an animal that eats both plants and other animals. Raccoons are omnivores.


Predator: an animal that actively hunts and eats other animals. A red fox is a predator that hunts small mammals like mice.


Prey: an animal that is food for other animals. An eastern cotton tail rabbit is a prey animal for many predators.


Reptile: an animal that cannot control its own body temperature, has a backbone, that usually lays eggs, and has scales or bony plates. Snakes, turtles, and lizards are all reptiles.


Species: a classification of animal or plant. A species has a scientific name that consists of two Latin words. Human beings are considered a species, and their scientific name is Homo sapiens.


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