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Ecosystems at the Wadden Sea in Friedrichskoog, Germany. © Benjamin Büttner, Transatlantic Outreach Program

Ecosystems Unit Plan
Ecosystems at the Wadden Sea

Students will be introduced to the unique ecosystems of the Wadden Sea at the Schleswig-Holstein National Park. Students will explore shorebird migration along the East Atlantic Flyway, energy flow and habitats in the ecosystems, as well as invasive species threatening the ecosystems in the largest mudflats in the world.

↓ Unit Overview
↓ Explorations
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Unit Overview

During this unit, students will explore the ecosystem of the Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer in German) at the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site for its importance to migratory birds and unique ecosystem value. The unit begins with a story describing a visit to the national park. Students will analyze trends in migratory bird populations, the energy flow between ecosystems, threats from invasive species, formulate questions, as they progress through the following explorations.

According to German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), the Wattenmeer is “the single most important wetland in Germany”. It plays a significant role in the survival of migratory birds that use the East Atlantic Flyway. The East Atlantic Flyway stretches from high Arctic breeding grounds to wintering grounds along western coastlines of Europe and Africa. The location of the Wadden Sea allows waterbirds to refuel prior to either long distance flight to high Arctic breeding grounds or to southern wintering grounds. It also serves as a staging, wintering, and molting site for some migratory waterbird species.

Climate change challenges, such as the rise in sea levels and increase in invasive species are the main threats to the Wadden Sea and its unique ecosystem.


Areal view of Trischen, Eiderstedt, and the North Frisian Barrier Islands © Von Mogens Engel und - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0

Welcome to the Wadden Sea

Welcome to the Wadden Sea is an introductory exploration to the Schlesweig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park. Students will explore the threats that climate change poses to the unique ecosystem.

Redshank standing on a post at the Wadden Sea © Michael Behrens, Unsplash

Exploration 1
Shorebird Migration

Students will learn about the East Atlantic Flyway and the importance of the Wadden Sea as a refueling station and breeding ground for migratory birds. They will also explore some of the threats migratory birds face.

Harbor seal sunning at the Wadden Sea © Zdeněk Macháček, Unsplash

Exploration 2
Energy Flow in the National Park

Students will learn about the species and habitats at the Wadden Sea and explore how energy is transferred in the various ecosystems.

Close-up of oyster bed © Toan Chu, Unsplash

Exploration 3
Invasive Species

Students will explore invasive species that are threatening the ecosystems of the Wadden Sea. They will trace the journey of one invasive species from its origin to the Wadden Sea.

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