Role Play
Instructions for the role play game on food chain and biodiversity

The aim of the game is to help students practice on marine ecosystem dynamics and on food chains in the sea. Students must be first introduced to the “marine ecosystem dynamics” and “food chain” definitions. Students are asked to be divided into 6 groups while the teacher co-ordinates them. The maximum number of groups is 6. Each group is asked to put each species (photos) onto the empty balloons of the board. Students are asked to explain how marine ecosystem and food-web works. They can also be encouraged to suggest other species, besides the ones represented, to be placed in each balloon.

Information about species represented in the role play game
  • Bacteria make nutrients available for use by other organisms, such as plants, through decomposition. They recycle 50% of the carbon in the sea, playing a key role in its cycle.
  • Phytoplankton (from Greek phyton, or plant) are very small photosynthetic organisms that live in the water column where there is sufficient light to support photosynthesis. Among the more important groups are the diatoms, cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates and coccolithophores.
  • Zooplankton (from Greek zoon, or animal) are small organisms that feed on phytoplankton, but also on eggs and larvae of larger animals, such as fish, crustaceans, and worms. Copepods arrow worms and cladocerans are among the most important zooplanktonic group.
  • Crabs have their juvenile forms (larvae) living into the water sea as zooplankton.
  • Jellyfish feed on smaller zooplankton. Their diameter varies from a few millimeters up to more than 2 meters. Usually jellyfish live offshore, but during warmer periods they often come closer to the coast.
  • Swordfish (from Greek ξιφος: sword,) are large, highly migratory, predatory fish characterized by a long, flat bill.
  • Sharks are carnivores fish, at the top of their underwater food chain . Their survival is only threatened by human-related activities.
  • The whale shark (Rhincodon typus),a filter feeding shark that eats plankton, is the largest known extant fish species (more than 12 m length).
  • The Scombridae family includes mackerel, tuna and bonito. They are found in both warm and tropical seas, The larvae and young mackerel feed on small zooplankton but as adults they have sharp teeth and feed on fish, shrimp and squid.
  • Sardines are caught mainly at night, when they approach the surface to feed on plankton.
  • Herrings are known for their schooling habits. Schools spawn at a different time and place (spring, summer, autumn and winter herrings).
  • Marine mammals aare either planktivores (do you know which one?) or carnivores. Most of them are under threat, due to human activities.
Photos of the species represented in the role play game
  • Sardine
  • Bacteria
  • Bacteria
  • Cladoceran
  • Herring
  • Bacteria
  • Arrow worm
  • Copepod
  • Crab larva
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Swordfish
  • Jellyfish
  • Diatom
  • Coccolithophore
  • Mackerel
  • Seal
  • Shark
  • Whale shark
  • Dinoflagellate
  • Bonito
  • Whale
  • Dolphin
Marine species in the food web