Lesson Plan: Ecosystems and Non-Native Species

Download the Lesson Plan

This lesson plan is designed to be used with the film Nutkin's Last Stand, part of the POV Shorts Program.

POV documentaries can be recorded off-the-air and used for educational purposes for up to one year from their initial broadcast. In addition, POV offers a lending library of DVDs and VHS tapes that you can borrow any time during the school year -- FOR FREE! Get started by joining our Community Network.

Please visit our Film Library to find other films suitable for classroom use.

Watch Nutkin's Last Stand online.

By the end of this activity, students will:

  • Examine the results of human intervention in an ecosystem.
  • Debate an appropriate human response to the non-native grey squirrel population in Great Britain.
  • Discuss public response to non-native species closer to home.

SUBJECTS: Current events, science, geography


LENGTH OF FILM: Approximately 18 minutes

Note: This film shows the systematic effort by groups in Great Britain to exterminate North American grey squirrels, which were brought to Great Britain from the United States and are believed by many to be spreading a virus that threatens the native red squirrel population. The film includes footage of dead squirrels. Please preview before classroom use.

  • Ask students to watch the film. While viewing, students should take notes on why the people shown in the video are working to eliminate the grey squirrel population and the strategies they are using to do so.
  • Discuss the role that humans have played both in endangering the red squirrels and in trying to save them. Do humans have a responsibility to try to remove a non-native species that may threaten a native one? What impact might these efforts have on biodiversity?
  • Debate whether humans should seek to eliminate the grey squirrel population in Great Britain. Then, research and discuss non-native animals and plants that have been introduced in your area and the response humans have had to them.


Professor Acorn's We're as Native as You!
This website counters many arguments put forth by those working to control Great Britain's grey squirrel population.

Red Squirrels in South Scotland: Grey Squirrel Control
This website explains why the grey squirrel is considered a threat to the red squirrel and also outlines the strategies being used to control the grey squirrel population.

These standards are drawn from "Content Knowledge," a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning).


Standard 8: Understands the characteristics of ecosystems on the Earth's surface.


Standard 6: Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment.

Standard 7: Understands biological evolution and the diversity of life.