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Tropical Ecology Institute


Ecological Roles of Belizean Animals

Grade Level: 3-5

Author: Steve Houser, Charlotte, NC


Even the most unassuming animals in the Belizean rain forest play a vital role in its well being.  In the rain forest, animals have a variety of adaptations to aid them in survival.  The organisms of the rain forest form a life sustaining web that affects the well being of each other.


  • Pencils, paper
  • Internet access (if possible) to allow students to pursue activity in greater depth.


  • The learner will build an understanding of animal growth and adaptation.
  • Relate structural characteristics and behavior of a variety of animals to the environment in which they are typically found.
  • Determine animal behaviors and body structures that have specific growth and survival functions in a particular habitat.


On the board, or on chart paper, show a list of many of the organisms found in the Belizean rain forest. In this list include several examples of producers, consumers, and decomposers. Students have already been exposed to descriptions of these animals, their behaviors, diets, and ways of survival.

Students are placed in groups of four.

Students are queried about the similarities and differences of our habitat to rainforest habitats.

Students are then asked: "What animal in the Belizean rain forest do you believe is the most beneficial one there?" The students should not answer quite yet, though!

Ask students to think about the animals in the rainforest, and what their adaptation are to the rainforest environment. Students should write their answers and explain why they chose a particular animals as the most beneficial one in the rainforest.

Students share their answers with their group. Next, the group must decide which of the four animals in the group would be the most beneficial to the rainforest. The entire group needs to agree! The group should have a reason for its choice; if there is Internet availability, groups may go online to seek the answer. Each group presents its findings and reasoning.

Finally, the class decides on the most beneficial animal of the Belizean rain forest. Students vote. Finally, ask students to write down their thoughts during this activity. Among the questions they could address: How did you reach your decision as a group?  Do you agree with the class vote? What are your thoughts about the most beneficial animal now?


  • Teacher observation
  • Students’ completed writings

Resources/Further Information:

The rainforest is made up of organisms that are connected to one another in ways that allow them to thrive. Consumers, producers, and decomposers all have an important role in the health of a rain forest. It would be very hard to single out one animal and say it was the most important.


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