Rat Islands


Assume that millions of generations ago, there was a species of rat that looked much like the picture given to
the right. Members of this species were eventually isolated on different islands as geologic change occurred.
Assume that over millions of generations your rat has evolved adaptations that are an advantage in the specific
island environment described below. The purpose of this activity is to brainstorm how a species may evolved
based on adapting to the environment and connecting species in the habitat to components in a ecosystem.
Learning Outcomes
Explain how adaptations help organisms survive in different environments.
Identify various components of an ecosystem based on their chosen habitat.
Assignment Instructions
You will be assigned one of the island habitats based on the first letter of your last name.
A-E Island 1
 

Junior Level
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F-J Island 2
K-N Island 3
O-R Island 4
S-U Island 5
V-Z Island 6
A handout for the assignment is attached.. Create your project in PowerPoint.
Identify your habitat (or write the full description) in your PowerPoint so I know (e.g. Island 1 and copy and
paste description).
Design a rat that has adapted to the environment of the island, creating a new species of rat. Describe at least
four physical adaptations (how it looks) and one behavioral adaptation (how it acts) and why they are beneficial
to the rat. You can get 2 points extra credit if you draw your rat adaptations (this doesn’t mean find a picture of
a rodent that happens to look exactly how you want your rat to be, only 1 point if drawing is a very poor
Post photos of the island habitat, including island, water, plants, animals, etc. using real photos online. I should
get a feeling of what your island description says.
Post answers to “What’s on the Island?” based on your habitat. This means these are organisms in your
habitat. The only liberty will be decomposers since most don’t explicitly list something that is a decomposer.
What’s on the Island?
Directions: Just using the organisms in your Rat Island ecosystem (including the rat), give an example of each
of the following:
Note: If the organisms given don’t fit a certain category, state that and give a possible likely organism based on
the ecosystem.
Producer –
Consumer –
Predator –
Prey –
Scavenger –
Decomposer –
Abiotic factor –
Biotic factor –
Limiting factor –
Island Habitats
Island 1 (Last name A-E)
The island is fairly flat, with an occasional hill. The ground is soft dirt, and several species of shrubs grow
towards the center of the island. There is no animal life on land; but the water is teaming with fish. The island is
surrounded by a coral reef which keeps the predators out. The shore is sandy with no algal growth. Fresh
water is available.
Island 2 (Last name F-J)
The island has a rocky shoreline. Numerous tide pools dot the island along the shore where the wave action is
somewhat sheltered by rock outcrops. The tide pools host barnacles, chitons, abalone, sea urchins and crabs.
Algae grows all around the island; however, it is quite sparse in the tide pools where the various animals feed.
The current is quite strong along the rocky outcrops where the algae grows best. Fresh water is available. 
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Island 3 (Last name K-N)
The island is somewhat barren. A few species of cactus thrive on the bare rocks. A large cactus-eating tortoise
inhabits the island. A species of very large bird nest on the island annually. They build their nests on the rocks,
and protect their eggs from the sun by standing over the nests with outspread wings. The nests are always
found on the windy side of the island which is somewhat cooled by offshore breezes.
Island 4 (Last name O-R)
The island is an extinct volcano. Vegetation on the island changes with the altitude moving up the volcano.
Grasses grow at the base. Further up the slope the grasses give way to low shrubs. Half way up, the island
becomes quite lush; tropical plants and trees dominate the landscape. At this altitude, the island experiences
frequent rain showers. There are two species of birds that inhabit the island. One is a raptor that preys upon
the smaller birds and the other fishes the waters approximately one mile offshore. Both nest in trees.
Island 5 (Last name S-U)
This island is in a polar region. Summer temperatures rarely go above 60 degrees and the winter temperatures
are below zero. The winter is long and dark, with plenty of snow. There are grassy sedges and a few small
flowers. The surface of the earth is often frozen. The island is hilly with some caves in the hillsides. Other
animals include puffins, seals, sea lions, otters, and foxes. There are plenty of large fish off the coast.
Island 6 (Last name V-Z)
This island is an abandoned colonial settlement off the coast of North Carolina. There are remains of houses
with doors, windows, and cabinets. Some houses still have fireplaces and chimneys. Vegetation includes
grasses. There is an abundance of shorebirds. The water is warm and teeming with shrimp and crabs in
addition to various species of algae. The coastline of the island is rocky and contain many mollusks.


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