Wildlife Encounters - K- 4th grade
Lesson 2: Wildlife Populations
  • Key Words

Wildlife Populations

Populations are plants or animals of the same species that lives in the same area. You are part of the human population for your home town. All of the mallard ducks that live on a pond are part of the duck population for that pond.

mallard ducks

How different populations interact within themselves and with other populations is the natural history of that species. Natural history describes how a species finds food, raises babies, and the role it plays in its ecosystem. The natural history of an eastern cottontail rabbit would include the following:


Rabbit eating grass

She eats grass.

rabbit nest

She does not spend much time with her nest of babies.

hawk and rabbit

She can be food for predators like red tailed hawks.

Every population has its own natural history, and all the natural histories make the relationships that form an ecosystem. For an ecosystem to be healthy, every piece of the ecosystem must be healthy too. Look at the picture of a food web below.  A food web shows the many ways all the species in an ecosystem need each other for food and survival.  Losing one species in the food web hurts all the other species that depend on it for food.


What would happen if the rabbits in the food web below all died from a disease?  Follow the arrows from the rabbits to the species that need the rabbits for food.   The foxes, hawks, and owls would have less to eat without the rabbits.  As a result, fewer foxes, hawks, and owls would live in the ecosystem because there would be less food for them.  The rabbit example shows that to protect an ecosystem, every part must be protected, including both the prey and the prediators.


ecosystem diagram