Backyard Action Hero Toyota Backyard Action Hero Guidebook August 2016 - Page 3

Introduction to City Ecosystems Have you ever been part of a group project in school? If you have, you know that for the group to succeed, it’s important that everyone works well together and that you all have the things you need, like pencils, paper, tape and glue. Without everyone’s help and the right materials, the project just doesn’t go very well, does it? Well, ecosystems work the same way. If you haven’t heard the term "ecosystem" before, it’s a great science term to learn! It means a group of living and nonliving things that are in the same area, all working together. All of these living and nonliving things are connected and affect each other. When one thing isn’t doing very well, the rest of the ecosystem suffers. Some living things you might find in an ecosystem include plants, animals, fungi and even smaller organisms. These living things can affect and are affected by nonliving things like water, rocks, sunlight, soil and even the weather. Ecosystems can be anywhere and any size, from puddles to deserts. You live in an ecosystem right now — a city ecosystem! People play a huge part in these amazing communities and we can have a major impact. So what makes up a city ecosystem? A city ecosystem is the city, town, neighborhood or urban places built by people. These places have buildings, roads, sewers, and power lines. City ecosystems only take up about two percent of the earth’s surface area, but almost three billion people live in city ecosystems. That’s half of the world’s human population plus plants and animals all living in a very small space! For people, cities make a wonderful "habitat" or place to live. It can be easy for us to forget that the places where we live, go to school and play, were once wild spaces that animals called home. Our tall buildings and streets replaced the many natural resources that animals needed to thrive. Natural resources are things that we take or use from nature. Trees, water, soil, fossil fuels and sunlight are all natural resources! So, what happens to natural resources when people move in? Well, sometimes those natural resources can become scarce or even polluted! Remember the group project from earlier? What would happen to your group project if your scissors were dull, your glue dried up or if you didn’t have enough paper? It would really affect your project! When natural resources are scarce or polluted, it can have a bad effect on our ecosystem. How can we help keep our ecosystem healthy? What can we do to make our cities a great place for people, plants and animals? This issue of Backyard Action Hero will help you answer all these questions while we explore the exciting world of city ecosystems. In this magazine, you will learn about some of the animals you can find in the city and how they interact with their city environment. You’ll meet some animal friends and see how you can help them and their habitats as cities develop. We will discover how our human actions and habits can affect city ecosystems in both good and bad ways. Your actions can have big results! This is just another reason why being a Backyard Action Hero is so important. So, let’s get started on the hero’s path to learning what we can do to help our ecosystem and how we can conserve natural resources for those who share them with us! caution habitat destruction next 2 exits