Climate Change and Wildlife

Climate Change and Wildlife

Climate change is affecting wildlife populations all over the world. Rising global temperatures, increase in extreme weather events, and melting ice sheets are among the many ways climate change affects the relationship between wildlife and their environment. Healthy ecosystems are essential for wildlife populations to thrive.  In order for an ecosystem to be considered healthy, it needs to have the right conditions to support a range of organisms. The elimination of one or more of those organisms, or a drastic change in the environment, can cause extensive damage to that biological community. These curated StC resources will help students make a connection between climate change and the worldwide decreases in wildlife populations.

Climate Change Wildlife and Wildlands

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th

Subjects: Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type: Video

This video by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), educates students on the basics of climate change and how rising temperatures are affecting ecosystems and animal populations worldwide. This resource is a great introduction to climate change and includes a vocabulary learning tool and fact sheet. Students will learn how melting glaciers are causing sea-levels to rise, which in turn cause erosion and habitat loss. Climate change related topics discussed in this 13-minute video include global warming, ocean expansion, and coral reef bleaching. 

The resource includes a teacher and student toolkit with climate change FAQ, glossary, case studies, and various activities on the carbon cycle. In the ‘Explore Your Ecoregion’ section, students will learn about different ecoregions and how they are impacted by climate change. The activities can be integrated within multiple subject areas such as science, math, social science, and the arts.

Create a Biome Map

Grade: 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography

Resource Type: Activity, Worksheet

In this lesson, students will learn about the different biomes around the world. Students will then choose 3 biomes to conduct further research and create a biome map. Next, they will write a paragraph describing the climate and species found in the biomes selected for their maps. 

This resource also includes a teacher guide with instructions on how to incorporate the activity in the classroom, paired with a student handout and additional research links. This activity can be extended by asking students to research climate change effects and solutions on how to prevent climate change from affecting biodiversity. There are additional websites included to extend student learning on the topic of biomes. The additional sources include engaging activities such as reading passages, games, and word searches.

Biome Bonanza

Grade: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Geography

Resource Type: Activity, Lesson Plan, Worksheet

In this ClimateScience activity, students will learn about the different terrestrial biomes throughout the world and the importance of preserving the biomes. Students will identify the biomes on a world map by coloring them according to numbers. The activity includes a teacher guide, student handout, and additional links for students to learn about other types of biomes. 

As an extension activity, students can be paired or grouped to create a box diorama of a biome of their choosing. You can ask students to research and write about how the biomes they created are being affected by climate change and come up with possible solutions to preserve the ecosystems and biodiversity.

The Trial of Humans

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th

Subjects: Social Studies, Civics, English Language Arts, Justice

Resource Type: Lesson Plan

This activity has students participating in a mock trial where they stand accused of harming wildlife and other living organisms. Students will be divided into two groups, where one group will stand for the side of the humans and another group will stand in for the animals. Throughout the trial, each group will make an argument whether the humans should be accused or pardoned for their negative actions against the animal population. 

Included is a teacher guide with instructions on how to guide students through the mock trial and additional links for students to conduct research and prepare for their arguments. Engaging students in this debate activity will help enhance their critical thinking, listening, and public speaking skills.

Protecting wildlife populations is important for biodiversity and the health of our planet. The negative impacts caused by humans and climate change are increasing extinction rates at an alarming rate. In order to protect wildlife, we need to understand the relationship between animals and their ecosystems, and how our human actions are affecting those interactions. Conserving wildlife populations ensures that future generations get to experience nature and all the wonderful species that exist. For more resources and lessons on climate change and wildlife, click here

About the Author

I currently teach 7th grade comprehensive science and previously taught 6-8th grade Dual-Language Science for 6 years. I have a  Bachelor's in Environmental Science/Anthropology. My passions include learning how to incorporate technology into my lessons, reading science books and spending time in nature with my children. I am passionate about teaching climate change because I want my students to learn  how to become change agents and protect their future.