FireWorks for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Northern Cascades - M14: Who Lives Here and Why? Modeling Forest Communities
Course Type: FireWorks activities
Availability: Public access
Author(s): FireWorks Educational Program
  • Ilana L. Abrahamson
    US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program
Date Created: February 15, 2018

Cataloging Information

  • climate change
  • forest communities
  • habitat
  • species distribution
Partner Site(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: February 17, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 25765


Lesson overview: In this activity, the class assembles a graphic model of forest communities in the northern Rocky Mountains and the North Cascades. They use feltboard materials from the trunk to show illustrate the optimal environmental conditions for each species and show how individual tree species are associated with each other in ecological communities. Then they use the model to predict the effects of changing climate conditions on the distribution of species.


  1. To increase students’ understanding that forest communities develop under specific environmental conditions because species with similar needs are likely to occur together.
  2. To increase students’ ability to interpret data displayed on a map and use that information to make predictions about the effects of climate change on forest communities.

Objectives: Given information on the environmental conditions in which various tree species live, students can:

  • Describe a forest community in terms of tree species that are likely to occur together.
  • Use information from maps to predict the effects of climate change.