Richard H. Josephthor
1992 Woodrow Wilson Biology Institute


Most of the species that we directly interface in nature are organisms around our home. We, personally, will have more of an impact on local species than on endangered species from other, distant regions of the globe. These local species will serve as a model for developing a consciousness of wildlife conservation. If we are willing and able to treat our local wildlife with beneficence and justice, then this same willingness can expand to a national and global level. This module will consider wildlife conservation issues around your home.


  • Wildlife survey forms
  • Animal identification books and manuals for phyla and classes of local wildlife
  • Values clarification model
  • Ethical decision making model
  • List of questions to be addressed
  • Case study


  1. To survey the local wildlife species that inhabit students' yards for at least part of the year.

  2. To distinguish between permanent species and migrating or seasonal species.

  3. To compare individual backyard surveys with those of other students, to get a flavor of the variety of wildlife in the community.

  4. To identify locally common species.

  5. To identify locally rare species.

  6. To describe the ecological niches of a variety of these species.

  7. To establish a food chain and food web for the backyard ecosystem.

  8. To develop an understanding of the inter-relatedness of different wildlife species.

  9. To develop a preference list for species you like, don't like or are neutral to.

  10. To describe why the student likes or dislikes certain species.

  11. To analyze ecosystem effects if disliked species were reduced in favor of liked species.

  12. To list ways your family may impact the backyard ecosystem.

  13. To assess how a back yard construction project might alter the backyard ecosystem.

  14. To practice role-playing in a case study.

  15. To address ethical questions about backyard

Individual Student Activities:

  1. Survey the wildlife that inhabits your yard. Include organisms that are permanent residents, as well as those that are temporarily passing through or seasonal. If you do not have a yard available to you, work with a classmate who does or utilize some common-use property around your home. To complete this activity, use the Wildlife Survey.

  2. Complete the food chain and web for your yard. Use the Food Chain and Web form.

  3. Read the Case Study construction project associated with this module.

    a. Prepare an "environmental impact study" as it might apply to your yard. List the species of wildlife that will be displaced by this construction project. List changes in wildlife habitats that will occur. Indicate if the change is good or bad for the organism that lives there.

    b. Consider the following role-playing positions as they might apply to this construction project.

    1. Land owner
    2. Contractor
    3. Wildlife conservationist
    4. Neighbors
    5. Wildlife species that is (-) impacted
    6. Wildlife species that is (+) impacted

    Determine the rights, interests and responsibilities that you feel each role should display toward the wildlife that lives there. Be prepared to play a randomly chosen role in our class "Town Meeting".

    c. List construction plans that would minimize (-) wildlife impact.

    d. Develop a scenario in which the construction project would be too damaging to wildlife and consequently, abandoned.

  4. What larger scale local projects might be impacting wildlife? Statewide? Nationwide? Global? What are the costs/benefits of these projects?

  5. Answer the questions at the end of this exercise. They will be discussed in class.

Cooperative Learning Activities:

  1. Pool the Wildlife Surveys of individual students so that a community list is produced.

  2. Discuss various attitudes about wildlife by comparing "liked", "disliked" and "neutral" species.

  3. Produce a community-wide list of species that are "liked", " disliked" and "neutral".

Case Study:

Jimmy proposes to build a skate board ramp in his back yard. It will require that several berry-bearing flowering shrubs be removed. In addition, a grassy area, approximately twenty feet square, will be covered with construction material (plywood). Jimmy and his friends will be spending more time in the yard than they had prior to construction.

Module Questions:

  1. Is it OK to like some species and not others? Explain.

  2. What criteria did you use to make these decisions on your wildlife survey?

  3. How might you deal with a person who does not like a species that you do?

  4. What would you do if someone were misusing a species of wildlife?

  5. Would the answer to #4 be different if it were a species you liked/didn't like?

  6. Should you selectively feed certain species? How might that impact other species that you do not feed?

  7. What responsibility do we have to the wildlife that lives on your land?

  8. In what ways might this small scale project have larger scale implications?

  9. List ways that your family might impact the backyard ecosystem.


List the organisms you have found in your yard. Be sure to include species that live in the air, on the ground and in the soil. Indicate with a "+", "-", or "0", next to the name, if it is a species that you like, dislike or are neutral to.

GROUP:               NAME:               PREFERENCE:








Other Arthropods:







List species in your yard that occupy each of the following levels of the food chain. Indicate the food web that exists there.






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