Predator-Prey Relationships (PCEC)
This lesson will introduce Arkansas mammals using study skins and skulls to illustrate a predator/prey relationship in food chains, which maintain a balance in the environment.
4 and up
Indoor or screened-in classroom
Potlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook’s Lake, Casscoe
Education Program Coordinator, 870-241-3373
One to two hours
Suggested Number of Participants:
20 - 25
One adult supervisor per 10 students; outdoor activities, weather permitting.
Compare the traits and relationships of Arkansas mammals using their pelts and skulls.
Construct a food chain and food web using Arkansas mammals.
Identify Arkansas mammals by studying their pelts.
*See glossary for definations
Arkansas mammal pelts and skulls
Dry erase board and markers
Laminated pictures of mammals
Since many mammals are wary and nocturnal, observing them can be difficult. Carefully observing habitats and mammal signs and studying pelts and skulls can teach a great deal. Signs may also include tracks, scat, home sites, tooth markings and food caches. Arkansas mammals can be divided into two categories: terrestrial and aquatic. Studying food chains involving both of these will show the differences and similarities. A skull can reveal if the mammal is a predator or prey.
- Ask participants to draw a simple food chain on the dry erase board. Then show a general food cycle or web.
- Show the pelts of Arkansas mammals and briefly describe the animal (where it lives, what it eats). The pelts will be divided into two categories: terrestrial and aquatic.
- The teeth in mammal skulls will determine which animal is a predator or prey.
Pin a mammal picture on each participant’s back. Participants must figure out what mammal they are by asking the others yes/no questions such as, “Am I a carnivore? Do I live alone?”
- What is the difference between a predator and prey?
- What is the meaning of carnivore, herbivore and omnivore?
- Create a food cycle that includes humans. Compare these with other charts in the class to see how many food cycles the class can come up with.
Sealander, John A. and Gary A. Heidt, Arkansas Mammals: Their Natural History, Classification and Distribution.
Aquatic – consisting of or relating to water; living or growing in, on or near the water
Canine – one of the pointed conical teeth between the incisors and the first bicuspids
Carnivore – any animal that consumes other animals that are living (predation) or dead (scavenging)
Food chain – feeding order in an ecological community that passes food energy from one organism to another as each consumes a lower member and in turn is preyed upon by a higher member
Food web – a network of interrelated food chains in an ecosystem
Herbivore – a plant-eating animal
Incisor (deer) – front tooth of a deer used to grasp, cut and gnaw food; cannot be used to age deer by wear, but can be used to age by cross-sectioning and counting annual rings; adult deer have eight incisors
Omnivore – an animal that eats both animal and vegetable matter
Pelt – skin or fur of an animal
Terrestrial – living on or in the ground