How have reef specialists evolved and adapted?

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Lesson overview

Different species have adapted to life on the coral reef in amazing and diverse ways. From sleeping in mucus bubbles, to flexible snakelike skeletons, life on the reef has had to find ingenious methods to find food and stay alive. The reef is also host to numerous examples of symbiosis and finding food and safety in the strangest of places, whether that be in a shark’s mouth or ‘vacuuming’ the sandy seabed. In this lesson, students are challenged to create the ultimate reef organism.

Lesson outcomes

  • Identify specific adaptions used by coral reef species
  • Explain the need for adaption for survival
  • List a range of adaption strategies used on the reef
  • Create the 'ultimate coral animal' using prior knowledge
  • Consolidate understanding of adaption on the reef

Lesson steps

  1. Why have animals adapted to survive on the reef? (10 mins)
    Students identify how different species have adapted to life on the coral reef and understand how survival involves competing for resources.
  2. How have different species adapted to life on the reef? (15 mins)
    Students learn from several different animals about the strategies they use to survive.
  3. What would make the ultimate coral animal? (20 mins)
    Students create the ultimate coral animal. Using their prior knowledge they draw and label the adaptations their creature would have.
  4. How have animals adapted to live on the coral reef? (15 mins)
    Students reflect on three of the animals they have discussed today and comment on the adaptations that make them effective reef dwellers.
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