Week 4: Herbivores, Food Webs, and Decomposition

Herbivores are animals which only eat plant material, like leaves, bark, fruits, and nuts. Some of our favorite herbivores here in the Adirondacks are white-tailed deer, North American beavers, and of course porcupines!

Herbivores are important members of our ecosystems because they provide essential services through being ecosystem engineers and food sources for other animals.

Food Webs are the simplified maps of how energy moves through ecosystems. They show connections between carnivores and herbivores– predators and prey– in their environment and can help us predict the impact of changes throughout the ecosystem. 

Decomposition is  an important component of healthy ecosystems. It is the process of decay, or breaking down organic materials, which recycles energy in the ecosystem.

For today’s pages you’ll explore the amazing world of porcupines and learn how wildlife and decomposers interact with each other through food webs.


To help you get started:

Learn about porcupines and herbivores with Nick and Stickley!

Go to minute 5:33 to learn about the unique adaptations of rodent skulls. Then check out minute 10:33 to learn all about porcupine habitats. At minute 12:20 meet Stickley and learn about some more cool porcupine features and adaptations.

Watch some porcupine enrichment with Nicole and our porcupine Stickley!

Go to minute 1:51 to see Nicole try to give Stickley some different types of snacks. Go to minute 10:41 to see Stickley up close and learn about porcupine behavior.

Hang out with Michael to learn about food webs and predator prey interactions.

Then test your skills at identification at minute 8:45.

Get a different perspective on food webs in stream habitat with Michael and Mike.

Get up close and personal with some decomposers that are found all over the world: dermestid beetles!

Learn all about composting, a type of human-supported decomposition, with Kali.

And how you can start composting at home!