CELP Curriculum Guide

I.  Everything living is a part of a community.

v  What are some working definitions or understandings of communities?

  • Biological community: populations of organisms living and interacting in a particular area
  • Communities are often named after keystone species

-keystone species: A species that determines the essential characteristics of a community.

-examples: kelp forest, human, oak woodland

v  What communities are you a part of?

  • Your family, neighborhood, school, city, state, etc.
  • Who are the members of your community?
  • How does your community support you?

-food, water, shelter, friends, family, resources (material and knowledge), opportunities

  • What do you need from your community?

v  What communities make up Catalina Island?

  • camp, kelp forest, intertidal, coastal sage scrub, garden, etc.

II. While every community is unique, each functions under the same principles of sustainability.

CELP Principles of Sustainability:

Sustainability:Derived from the word “sustain”, this word means to keep in existence, to maintain, to supply with necessities, and to withstand. In the context of human communities, this means that they are managed in such a way as to maintain themselves through time without running out of raw materials and without creating harmful byproducts such as pollution, which disrupts vital processes and undermines a community’s ability to continue.”

(Murphy, Richard. Coral Reefs, Cities Under the Sea. Darwin Press, New Jersey: 2002)

Energy: Everything runs on energy.

  • Energy is the capacity to do work.
  • Every member of a community requires energy to live, grow, and reproduce.
  • Energy transfers.

-Producers (plants) ultimately convert solar energy into chemical energy stored in food and organic material (photosynthesis).

-This chemical energy is the power source for communities

-example: basic food chain

Resources:  There is no waste in nature.

  • The byproduct of every organism is a resource for another
  • Matter is the material of which things are made
  • Matter cycles.

-Matter is made up of atoms.

-Energy holds atoms together.

  • Living communities and their members are the result of an assemblage of non-living raw materials converted into complex living systems.
  • Decomposers/detritivores consume dead plants, dead animals, and poop, recycling organic materials back into the environment.

Biodiversity: Different forms of life are good for the survival of a community.

  • Biodiversity refers to variations of form, function, or behavior within a species, a variety of species in a community, or a variety of communities on land or sea.
  • Biodiversity provides living security as species depend upon one another in a variety of ways.
  • Adaptations: Two definitions

–          A limited range of behavioral and physiological modifications available to individual organisms in their life span (ex. People can change their eating habits, but they can’t change how tall they are).

–          The inheritance of specific genetic traits that allow a species to live in a particular environment (ex. Cactus have spines).

  • Different species can provide similar services for a community.
  • Catalina Island is a hot spot of biodiversity.

Connections: Everything is connected

  • Ecosystem:  A functional unit of organisms (plants, animals, microbes, etc) along with the physical and chemical factors that affect the organisms and in turn are affected by them.  This includes biotic (species) and abiotic factors (physical and chemical aspects such as rainfall, salinity, temperature, and the like).
  • Organisms adapt to each other and to the physical environment in which they live.
  • Every action has a reaction.
  • Food chains become interconnected to form food webs.
  • Symbiosis: A relationship whereby individuals of two species living together interact in some way.  Symbiotic relationships can either be mutual, commensal, or parasitic.
  • Each individual contributes to the well-being of the community as a whole

III.  Every community on earth is connected.

v  How do different communities interact?

v  How are human communities connected to local ecosystems?

v  How do our actions affect global systems?

Gaia hypothesis: “proposes that the entire earth is one large organism whose biological and physical components continually interact to maintain an environment suitable for the maintenance of life.  That is earth, together with oceans and atmosphere, is a superorganism” (Barbour, Burk, and Pitts.  Terrestrial Plant Ecology: Third Edition. Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. Menlo Park:1999)


  • Energy transfers between communities.
  • Energy sources are either renewable or non-renewable.
  • Our communities are heavily dependant on non-renewable, finite energy sources.
  • The extraction and over-consumptive use of non-renewable energy is undermining the quality of life for all communities.
  • By reducing our unnecessary consumption of energy and shifting to renewable sources we can meet current needs and insure supplies for future generations.


  • Matter cycles between communities.
  • All communities share finite resources.
  • Many of the resources we use are not recycled and end up as waste in landfills.
  • Over-consumptive and inefficient use of resources leads to social and environmental problems.
  • Environmental Footprint: The area of earth’s productive land and water surface necessary to support a given person or group of people.
  • If the global human population all lived with the same resource demands as the average North American, we would need more than 3 planet earths.


  • The world is dynamic. Environmental change is certain.
  • The processes of evolution and adaptation are nature’s ways of helping species survive in response to changing environmental conditions.
  • Diversity of species insures some will survive dramatic changes in the environment
  • Presently, the world is experiencing an alarming period of declining diversity due to human activities.


  • The land is connected to the sea and the sea connects all continents.
  • Human communities that have a balanced relationship with local ecosystems have a high degree of living security and quality of life.
  • Any species, including humans, that undermines the ecological integrity of its community, undermines the security of its own future.

IV.  What is your role in your community?

v  What important lessons can we learn from nature?

v  How do your actions affect the global community?

v  How can we help protect local ecosystems?

v  How can you give back to your community?

v  How can you lead by example?


  • Find your personal “sources of energy”. Let your inspirations guide you.
  • Be aware of the energy you put into your community, i.e. your attitude and actions.
  • Look for ways to reduce your dependence on non-renewable sources of energy.


  • Our communities provide us with endless resources and infinite possibilities.
  • How can we lessen our environmental footprint? Know what you are consuming, where it comes from, and where it is going.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle…


  • Celebrate biodiversity!
  • Diversity in your community provides you with a range of opportunities and ideas.
  • Use your skills and interests to find your niche.
  • Help protect local habitat by educating yourself, volunteering, writing a letter, or attending a community meeting.


  • Decisions we make and the actions we take have repercussions that reach far corners of the earth. Know the effects of your actions…
  • Individual actions affect your local community, and your local community affects the global community.
  • Cooperation is essential in achieving sustainability.
  • Make a pledge to the environment!

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