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NSW Syllabuses

Biology Stage 6 - Year 11 Module 4: Ecosystem Dynamics


A student:

  • BIO11/12-1

    develops and evaluates questions and hypotheses for scientific investigation

  • BIO11/12-2

    designs and evaluates investigations in order to obtain primary and secondary data and information

  • BIO11/12-3

    conducts investigations to collect valid and reliable primary and secondary data and information

  • BIO11/12-4

    selects and processes appropriate qualitative and quantitative data and information using a range of appropriate media

  • BIO11/12-5

    analyses and evaluates primary and secondary data and information

  • BIO11-11

    analyses ecosystem dynamics and the interrelationships of organisms within the ecosystem

Content Focus

The Earth’s biodiversity has increased since life first appeared on the planet. The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection can be used to explain periodic increases and decreases in populations and biodiversity. Scientific knowledge derived from the fossil record, and geological evidence has enabled scientists to offer valid explanations for this progression in terms of biotic and abiotic relationships. Students engage in the study of past ecosystems and create models of possible future ecosystems so that human impact on biodiversity can be minimised. The study of ecosystem dynamics integrates a range of data that can be used to predict environmental change into the future.

Working Scientifically

In this module, students focus on developing questions and hypotheses when planning and conducting investigations. Students study trends, patterns and relationships in data to analyse the interrelationships within and dynamics of an ecosystem. Students should be provided with opportunities to engage with all Working Scientifically skills throughout the course.


  • Population Dynamics

  • Inquiry question: What effect can one species have on the other species in a community?
  • Students:
  • investigate and determine relationships between biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem, including: (ACSBL019) SECCTICTPSC
  • the impact of abiotic factors (ACSBL021, ACSBL022, ACSBL025)
  • the impact of biotic factors, including predation, competition and symbiotic relationships (ACSBL024)
  • the ecological niches occupied by species (ACSBL023)
  • predicting consequences for populations in ecosystems due to predation, competition, symbiosis and disease (ACSBL019, ACSBL020) SE
  • measuring populations of organisms using sampling techniques (ACSBL003, ACSBL015) ICTN
  • explain a recent extinction event (ACSBL024) SEL
  • Past Ecosystems

  • Inquiry question: How do selection pressures within an ecosystem influence evolutionary change?
  • Students:
  • analyse palaeontological and geological evidence that can be used to provide evidence for past changes in ecosystems, including but not limited to: CCTICT
  • Aboriginal rock paintings AHC
  • rock structure and formation
  • ice core drilling
  • investigate and analyse past and present technologies that have been used to determine evidence for past changes, for example: (ACSBL005)
  • radiometric dating
  • gas analysis
  • analyse evidence that present-day organisms have evolved from organisms in the past by examining and interpreting a range of secondary sources to evaluate processes, claims and conclusions relating to the evolution of organisms in Australia, for example: (ACSBL005, ACSBL027) CCTICT
  • small mammals
  • sclerophyll plants
  • investigate the reasons for changes in past ecosystems, by:
  • interpreting a range of secondary sources to develop an understanding of the changes in biotic and abiotic factors over short and long periods of time (ACSBL025, ACSBL026) ICT
  • evaluating hypotheses that account for identified trends (ACSBL001) CCT
  • Future Ecosystems

  • Inquiry question: How can human activity impact on an ecosystem?
  • Students:
  • investigate changes in past ecosystems that may inform our approach to the management of future ecosystems, including:
  • the role of human-induced selection pressures on the extinction of species (ACSBL005, ACSBL028, ACSBL095) AHCSE
  • models that humans can use to predict future impacts on biodiversity (ACSBL029, ACSBL071) AHCSEN
  • the role of changing climate on ecosystems SE
  • investigate practices used to restore damaged ecosystems, Country or Place, for example: AHCSE
  • mining sites
  • land degradation from agricultural practices