Questions for ‘Surprise! These animals can help fight climate change’

a short beaked echidna, spiky on top and furry on the bottom - it resembles a hedgehod with an elongated nose

The short-beaked echidna digs pits throughout Australia’s forest floors in search of food. Leaf litter, water and microbes that gather in those pits help store carbon in the ecosystem.

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To accompany “Surprise! These animals can help fight climate change


Before Reading:

  1. Do you think protecting animals is important for fighting climate change? Why or why not?
  2. A “climate hero” can be anyone or anything that helps reduce the negative impacts of climate change. This could include individuals, communities, organizations or even animals. Based on this definition, what actions might a climate hero take? Can you think of different types of climate heroes and describe what they might do to help the environment?
  3. How do animals shape their environments to improve their own survival? How might this affect the overall health of their ecosystem? Provide at least two specific examples or hypotheses.

During Reading:

  1. The story describes how echidnas dig pits in the forest. What role do these pits play in keeping carbon in the soil, and why is this important for the ecosystem?
  2. What is a “nature-based solution” to climate change? Give at least one example described in the story .
  3. David Eldridge discovered that pits near trees and shrubs captured more carbon than those in areas without many plants. What might explain this difference?
  4. Name at least three other animals besides the echidna that dig pits.
  5. Do forest elephants prefer to eat leaves from fast-growing or slow-growing trees? What about fruits? If there is a difference, explain why.
  6. Explain how a forest with fewer trees can store more carbon than a forest with more trees.
  7. Why did the author compare elephants and whales to gardeners?
  8. How are phytoplankton in the ocean similar to trees in a forest?
  9. Name three nutrients that are scarce at the ocean’s surface.
  10.  Describe three ways that carbon can sink to the bottom of the ocean.
  11.  What are some ways that humans can help protect climate heroes?

After Reading:

  1. Fabio Berzaghi said, “We are all connected.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give three examples from the text to support your answer.
  2. Imagine you’re a scientist studying a eucalypt forest in Australia. You’ve observed that there are fewer echidna-made pits in the area than you counted in previous years. What predictions do you have about the forest ecosystem and the soil’s carbon content?