The Living Desert: Australian Wildlife Park
An Internet WebQuest on Australian Deserts and Wildlife

Modified for Australian conditions by Kaye Placing

UniServe Science

Based on The Living Desert: Wildlife Park created by Margot Morgan and Rachel Sellers

Introduction | Task | The Process and Resources | HyperText Dictionary


Introduction

Desert regions are often thought of as lifeless wastelands, nothing but sand with the occasional plants like cactus and date palms and, of course, camels. Actually sand covers less than 30% of the world's desert areas. In Australia there are many different desert landscapes, from stony desert covered with small pebbles called gibbers, grasslands, hills and gorges with bare rock, long sand dunes, dry lake beds and claypans.

Many of the animals species found in the deserts are endangered, and many more have become extinct since white settlement. Even so, the desert is an ecosystem containing an astonishing variety of animal and plant life. Many species are extremely rare and seldom seen. These animals have survived in areas of very little rainfall with astounding behaviour that changes to adapt to the harsh environment.




Task

In order in to increase the students' awareness of Australian deserts and desert wildlife, your school has been awarded a grant to develop a Desert Wildlife Centre. Your class has been selected to create a model of the Centre, with dioramas showing the type of displays that would make up the Desert Wildlife Centre.

In order to create these dioramas, you will need to find out about deserts in Australia, where they occur, what they look like and what plants and animals you find there. Remember to include only plants and animals that are native to Australia.




The Process and Resources

In this WebQuest you will be working together with a group of students in class. Each group will answer the Task or Quest(ion). As a member of the group you will explore web pages from people and organisations who are interested in deserts and desert ecology. Because these are real web pages we're tapping into, not things made just for schools, the reading level might challenge you. Feel free to use the online dictionary or one in your classroom.

You'll begin with everyone in your group getting some background before dividing into roles where people on your team become experts on one part of the topic.

Phase 1 - Background: Something for Everyone

Before you start your research and planning your the diorama, you should find out a little about Australian deserts and deserts in general. Here are some web site that will help you find about Australian Deserts: The following links will help you in designing and constructing the diorama:

Phase 2 - Looking Deeper from Different Perspectives

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Individuals or pairs from your larger WebQuest team will explore one of the roles below.

2. Read through the files linked to your group. If you print out the files, underline the passages that you feel are the most important. If you look at the files on the computer, copy sections you feel are important by dragging the mouse across the passage and copying / pasting it into a word processor or other writing software.

3. Note: Remember to write down or copy/paste the URL of the file you take the passage from so you can quickly go back to it if you need to inorder to prove your point and so that you can reference your sources in your bibliography.

Mammalogist - a scientist who studies mammals

Use the Internet information linked below to find information on mammals that are native to Australian deserts. When you have decided which mammals you might include in your diorama, record the following information for each mammal: common name, scientific name, habitat (does it live in the sand dunes, gibber plains, spinifex grasslands, clay pans, rocky areas or scrubland), how does it find shelter (burrows, nest, caves), what it eats, how big is it (this is important when comparing other mammals and wildlife of the desert) and an interestinbg fact. Make sure you keep a picture of each animal.
  • Mammals of Arid Australia - from The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden
  • Australian Animals - from Australian Fauna, desert species include Red Kangaroo, Bilby, Brush-tailed and Burrowing Bettong. Central Rock Rat, Dingo, Julia Creek Dunnart, Dusky-hopping Mouse, Rufous Hare Wallaby, Kowari, Mursupial Moles, Mulgara, Greater Stick-nest Rat
  • Threatened Species List - pdf files from Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts, NT. Desert species include Mala, Long Tailed Dunnart, Bilby, Dusky Hopping Mouse, Central Rock Rat, Golden Bandicoot, Mulgara, Kowari and Sandhill Dunnart
  • Desert - from South Australian Museum. Species include Spinifex hopping-mouse
  • Dingoes - from Our Animals, ABC
  • Greater Bilby - from Australian Threatened Species, Department of Environment and Heritage The Bilby - from Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland
  • Julia Creek Dunnart - from Australian Threatened Species, Department of Environment and Heritage
  • MULGARA Dasycercus cristicauda - pdf from Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife
  • Simpson Desert National Park - from Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland. Species include Mulgara
  • Wildlife Profiles - from Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Desert species include Mala and Greater Stick-nest Rat

Ornithologist - a scientist who studies birds

Use the Internet information linked below to find information on birds that are found in Australian deserts. When you have decided which birds you might include in your diorama, record the following information for each bird: common name, scientific name, habitat (does it live in the sand dunes, gibber plains, spinifex grasslands, clay pans, rocky areas or scrubland), how does it find shelter (burrows, nest, caves), what it eats and how big is it (this is important when comparing them to other birds and wildlife) and an interestinbg fact. Make sure you keep a picture of each bird.

Herpetologist - a scientist who studies reptiles and amphibians

Use the Internet information linked below to find information on the reptiles and amphibians that are found in Australian deserts. When you have decided which reptiles and amphibians you might include in your diorama, record the following information for each organism: common name, scientific name, habitat (does it live in the sand dunes, gibber plains, spinifex grasslands, clay pans, rocky areas or scrubland), how does it find shelter (burrows, nest, caves), what it eats, how big is it (this is important when comparing it to other wildlife) and an interesting fact. Make sure you keep a picture of each animal.

Botanist - scientist who studies plants

Use the Internet information linked below to find information on native plants that are found in Australian deserts. When you have decided which plants you might include in your diorama, record the following information for each organism: common name, scientific name, habitat (where do they grow), when do they grow (all year, only after rain), how big is it (this is important when comparing it to other wildlife) and an interesting fact. Make sure you keep a picture of each plant.

Geoscientist - a scientist who studies the Earth

Use the Internet information linked below to find information on the landscapes and landforms of the Australian deserts. You have an important role in providing the right setting for the animals and plants selected by the rest of your group. During your research look for images of deserts in Australia, what landforms are found in Australian deserts, and make brief notes of the wildlife that occurs in each desert type. Collect images that could be used to create a background or ground cover for the diorama. Think of ways in which these may be represented in the diorama.

Phase 3 - Debating, Discussing, and Reaching Consensus

You have all learned about different facts about Australian deserts and the plants and animals found in them.

As a group, you should decide which plants and animals to include in the Desert Wildlife Centre. Think about which ones are found in similar habitats (e.g. spinifex grasslands or sand dunes). Include them in one diorama. Make two or three diorama, one for each habitat represented by the plants and animals selected.

When you have completed your dioramas, make a sign to tell people visiting the Desert Wildlife Centre about the plants and animals in each display.




Content by UniServe Science
BioSciCH@mail.usyd.edu.au

[HIT COUNTER]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Page Maintained By: BioSciCH@mail.usyd.edu.au
Last Update: Monday, 30-Apr-2012 14:52:28 AEST
URL: http://science.uniserve.edu.au/school/quests/livingdesert.html