Large Numbers, Raised by Mother Nature
Can you imagine
a robin laying an egg in your yard and then flying away? Not a chance!
Most bird and mammal parents spend a lot of time taking care of their
young. In general, the more time it takes an animal to raise its young,
the fewer children that animal has at one time.
Insect parents follow the opposite strategy. In contrast, most insects*:
- Have large
numbers of offspring at one time, and they
no parental care at all.
lay many, many eggs, and then they leave! They rely on Mother Nature to
raise their offspring. This means that a young insect's habitat--and its
adaptations--must provide everything the insect needs to survive.
butterfly parents do not take care of their young after they are born.
List all of the things monarch young need from their habitat. Explain
how good habitat is like a good parent.
- A baby
robin flies from the nest when it’s only 13 days old, a hummingbird
at 21 days, and a bald eagle at 70-84 days. (See "Eagles
Are Big Babies.") Beginning with the egg, list the similarities
and differences between bird and butterfly parents.
- How long
do other animal parents care for their young? Chose two or three species,
do some research and find out. Can you find a correlation between the
number of young an animal produces and the amount of time it spends
taking care of its young?
* Some social
insects, like ants, termites and some bees, have complex societies that
provide extended care for the young.
Science Education Standards
Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing
into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details of this life
cycle are different for different organisms. (K-4)
Every organism requires a set of instructions for specifying its traits.
Heredity is the passage of these instructions from one generation to another.
is one kind of response an organism can make to an internal or environmental
stimulus. Behavioral response is determined in part by heredity and in
part from experience. (5-8)
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