Ecosystems: Prior Knowledge

Support learners to review their understanding of the interdependence of organisms, and their awareness of how ecosystems respond to perturbation. Review an understanding of feeding relationships, food webs, biotic and abiotic resources, the importance of species diversity, and how recycling conserves the Earth's limited resources. 

This is recommended as session one of the Key Stage Four Ecosystems Science Unit, identifying prior knowledge.



Green Skills

  • Communication

Curriculum Links  


Relationships in an Ecosystem

  • The interdependence of organisms in an ecosystem
  • How organisms affect, and are affected by, their environment

Genetics and Evolution

  • The importance of maintaining biodiversity 


Earth and Atmosphere

  • Earth as a source of limited resources and the efficacy of recycling

Step by step

Quick Starter Activity  

Biodiversity Stripes

Biodiversity Stripes
Acknowledgement:, LPI 2022. Living Planet Index.

The biodiversity stripes are a different way of showing biodiversity decline. Measuring and representing data on biodiversity is very complex, which can make telling a simple story difficult, but there is an urgent need to make the problem visible. 

Each stripe represents a year. The highest recorded level of biodiversity is coloured bright green and there is a gradient through yellow to grey depending on the level of decline. 

Use the image to prompt discussion and retrieval of prior knowledge. You could use the following questions to frame discussion: 

  • Why does biodiversity matter? 
  • How might people use the biodiversity stripes? 
  • Why do you think there is a decline in biodiversity? 

Main Activity Suggestions  

Suggestion 1 (Outdoor)

Natural History Museum: Habitat loss and fragmentation game. In this activity, students play a game where they take on the role of a different animal species and see how long they can survive as their environment changes due to habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation.

Suggestion 2 (Indoor) 

The Royal Society: What do you want to know about biodiversity loss? These extended 20 questions and answers can be used in a number of ways to support learners to understand the importance of biodiversity and the impacts of biodiversity loss, based on the latest evidence available to scientists.

Suggestion 3 (Indoor) 

TED-Ed: Why is biodiversity so important? A 5-minute video explores how ecosystems respond to change. This video can be used as a prompt for research into different ecosystems.

Top Tips 

Ensuring learners have a good understanding of concepts related to interdependencies and interactions of organisms in an ecosystem will support learning of new material throughout the rest of this unit. 

Use this 5-minute David Attenborough film from the Royal Society as a plenary activity to summarise the importance of biodiversity. 

Preview image for the video "Why is biodiversity important - with Sir David Attenborough | The Royal Society".