Chesapeake Bay Food Web Before Large Scale Harvesting and European Settlers

Part of the Ecology Disrupted Curriculum Collection.

food web before


Download the files below to use offline, or to incorporate into your own lesson planning tools.

Food Web Before slide


Food Web Before worksheet


Chesapeake Bay teacher's guide


This worksheet prepares students to compare this historic food web of the Chesapeake Bay to the food web of the present day Chesapeake Bay ecosystem that they will receive next. Students must use the food web to determine abundant and rare species in the ecosystem and to predict the consequences of removing certain species from the ecosystem.

Knowing Your Way Around a Food Web

Hand each group of two students a food web of the Chesapeake Bay before large-scale fishing and a worksheet (worksheet 1). Ask the students to use the worksheet to analyze the food web. Before students begin analysis, review the important terms in the food web and the food web key.  This step is very important because some of the language in the food web is difficult to understand without discussion and because the first food web is very full of information (This complexity is one of the points of the exercise. The food web before fishing is very hard to read because it is so complex. The food web with fishing is easy to read by comparison because most of the complexity has been removed!) .

An important point established in this worksheet is that historically, there was a 50-50 ratio of floating algae and sea floor algae (plants).  Students will revisit this ratio in later worksheets and the graphing exercise, as oyster harvesting changed this ratio dramatically.