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  • Very tiny phytoplankton cells (a type of microscopic algae) can produce potent toxins. Although the toxin produced by one phytoplankton cell is pretty minimal, it can accumulate quickly through the food web as each consumer takes in more and more of the toxin.

    This is called bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation is the process by which compounds accumulate or build up in an organism at a rate faster than they can be broken down.

    In this activity, students learn about feeding connections (food webs and food chains) within a marine ecosystem and then observe how toxins bioaccumulate as they are passed through these connections.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • use content vocabulary associated with food webs and bioaccumulation
    • begin to interpret marine food web diagrams
    • use an interactive to view how toxins bioaccumulate within food webs and food chains.

    During this activity, students have the opportunity to practise the science capabilities ‘use evidence’ and ‘interpret representations’.

    Download the Word file (see link below).

    Related content and activity ideas

    The following articles provide useful background information:

    Use the activity Tracking toxins to model bioaccumulation of toxins in marine animals. Students participate in a food web game where feeding decisions determine their survival.

      Published 7 December 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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