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Lesson Plan: Exploring El Yunque National Forest: Identifying Mammals, Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will gain an understanding of the diverse wildlife found in El Yunque National Forest.

  2. Students will learn how to identify various species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic species.

  3. Students will appreciate the importance of preserving and conserving biodiversity in a natural habitat.


  • Field guides or printed information about the wildlife of El Yunque National Forest

  • Binoculars (optional)

  • Clipboards and pencils

  • Maps of El Yunque National Forest


Introduction (15 minutes):

  1. Begin the lesson by discussing El Yunque National Forest and its unique geographical and ecological features.

  2. Explain to students that they will be going on a wildlife identification adventure in the forest.

Activity 1: Mammals (20 minutes):

  1. Provide students with a list of mammals found in the forest.

  2. Divide the students into small groups and assign each group a specific mammal to look for.

  3. Instruct students to use the field guides or printed information to identify the mammals they are assigned.

  4. Each group should document the number of sightings and any interesting observations.

Activity 2: Birds (20 minutes):

  1. Provide students with a list of bird species in the forest.

  2. In small groups, assign each group a bird species to observe.

  3. Encourage students to use binoculars (if available) to identify and watch the birds.

  4. Have each group share their findings, including the number of birds spotted and any notable behaviors.

Activity 3: Reptiles and Amphibians (20 minutes):

  1. Discuss the reptiles and amphibians that can be found in the forest.

  2. Allow students to explore the forest for these species, taking care not to disturb them.

  3. Students should document the species they encounter and any unique features.

  4. Reconvene to share their findings.

Activity 4: Aquatic Species (20 minutes):

  1. Explain the importance of aquatic species in the forest ecosystem.

  2. If possible, visit the Mameyes River, the river with the highest aquatic diversity in the forest.

  3. Have students observe and document any aquatic species they can find, such as fish, shrimp, and crabs.

  4. Discuss the role of these species in the ecosystem.

Activity 5: Land Invertebrates (20 minutes):

  1. Discuss the significance of insects and invertebrates in decomposition and nutrient cycling.

  2. Encourage students to explore leaf litter and observe any invertebrates they encounter.

  3. Each student should choose one invertebrate to research further and present to the class.

Conclusion (15 minutes):

  1. Gather the students to discuss their observations and findings.

  2. Highlight the importance of preserving and conserving biodiversity in El Yunque National Forest.

  3. Discuss the unique challenges and opportunities for conservation in this unique environment.

  4. Encourage students to share their newfound appreciation for nature with others.

Homework (Optional): Students can create a species journal or presentation about a specific species they encountered during the lesson, including its habitat, diet, and significance in the ecosystem. This will reinforce their learning and research skills.

Assessment: Assessment can be based on students' participation, their ability to identify and document species, and their understanding of the importance of biodiversity in El Yunque National Forest.

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