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School Project on Observing Species

Praying Mantis

The prey mantis or the praying mantis is an insect with a triangle head and long front legs which appear to be in the position a person would take to pray. The insect can turn its head 180 degrees and they are carnivores. The praying mantis eats other insects, such as crickets and grasshoppers, and eat frogs, spiders, and even small birds. Their front legs have small spines which allow them to hold on to their prey. The praying mantis can camouflage themselves by adapting their color to match the foliage. The current biodiversity status of the praying mantis is thriving. With over 1,800 current species of the praying mantis, the insect is not at risk for extinction.

BirdThe predatory inspect prefers to live in trees, bushes, and plants above the ground. The insect has a positive impact in the environment, especially the agricultural industry by eating insects that are pests. The praying mantis is afforded habitat diversity and can thrive in farmlands and in forests. The risk for extinction is greatly reduced due to the large number of species as well as the large number of offspring the praying mantis produces. Each praying mantis can produce up to 200 offspring at a time but only a few will ever reach adulthood. Because the praying mantis does not have a negative impact on its environment, there are no attempts to extinguish the insect.

The natural predator of the prey mantis is the spider. Spiders prey on the young while larger spiders, such as tarantulas will capture the insect in their web and devour it. Hornets and birds are flying threats to the praying mantis while on the ground, frogs and lizards, are the insect natural predator. If the insect were to go instinct, many of the pests ravaging gardens would not be eliminated. The prey mantis also faces the threat of being killed by the pesticides used to eliminate garden pests.

American Black Crow

The American black crow is a black bird known for its distinct call which is “caw” and its ability to imitate sounds. The crow is considered a pest and is responsible for damaging crops. A member of the genus Corvus brachyrynchos family, the American crow lives in agricultural land and grasslands containing trees. They are also seen in North American neighborhoods. This crow is not currently at threat for extinction but are sensitive to spread of diseases, such as West Nile rabies. The crow survives on grasshoppers, butterflies, reptiles, frogs, and small birds as well as crops and worms on the ground.

Urbanization changed the habitats of many crows. Instead of finding home, American black crows adapt to the change and can be found in suburban areas. Crows are solitary but they hunt with other crows and they migrate in large groups during breeding season. The natural predators of the American black crow are owls and hawks. These birds will attack and eat the crow, but the crow only attacks the hawk and owl in defense not to eat them. Owls attack when crows are roosting while the hawk will tack in the roost and while the crow is in flight. Crow will attack these natural predators in groups to eliminate the threat.

If the American black crow where to go instinct, many of the insects considered pests to the farmer would not be consumed. On the other hand, the crow is a natural pest for farmers. Even though the American black crow is not currently at threat for extinction, steps have been taken to protect the migrating bird. For one, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects the American black crow and crows cannot be hunted during nesting periods. There are no specific conservation efforts.

Pine Cones

Pine cones are organs on plants containing reproductive structures. The pine cone can be male or female. The female pine cone contains seeds which begin as ovules until they are pollenated. The males contains pollen sacs. The pine cone is not a threat for extinction but is thriving. Pine forest can be found across North America and in many other places across the globe. Pine cones come from Pinaceae or the Pine trees and are conifers. Because they can be found in abundance, the species is not currently at threat for extinction. As populations grow, the use of pine trees to build homes and businesses as well as a source of heat, has resulted in changing biodiversity.

Pine cones are eaten by squirrels. Squirrels gather the pine cones and retrieved the seeds and nuts it contains. The seeds are gathered for food for the winter. Pine cones are also used by humans as decorations and in so remote areas, the seed of the pine cone are made into a jam. Pine cones containing pine nuts have been used by Native Americans as a food source. Pine cones have also been used as a form of art and to make children’s toys. Some confiders are considered natural weeds killing plants and disrupting the natural habitat of animals.

If pine cones were to go extinct, squirrels would not have the necessary food sources to survive the winter and there would be no pollinated seeds to create more pine trees. Pine cones act as natural barrier against invasive plant species. Pine trees are at risk for being consumed by the human population. Pine is used for many purposes and forested by tens of thousands of acres each year. Conservation efforts have been made to prevent the consumption of the pine tree. When pine trees are cut down, they must be replaced with seedlings. These seedlings come from the pine cone.


Better, B. Praying Mantis: A Teacher’s Guide. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Kulhavy, D. Life in a Pine Cone. Faculty Publications. Paper 269. Stephen F. Austin State University, Austin, TX.

Verbeek, N.A. & Caffrey, C. American crow (Corvus brachyrynchos). In: Poole, A. (Ed.) The Birds of North America Online.