Trees as Habitats


Trees as Habitats (Adapted lesson of Project Learning Tree): Students will inventory the plants and animals that live in, on, and around trees and discover how plants and animals depend on trees in many ways.


  • Science Journal
  • Optional: field guides, hand lenses, bug boxes


  • A habitat is the place where a plant or animal gets all the things it needs to survive (food, water, shelter and space for having and raising offspring).
  •  A tree may serve as a part of an organism’s habitat, or it may be the organism’s entire habitat. 
    • an oak tree may provide food for squirrels and nest sites for crows. But lichens and moss get everything they need right there on the tree. 
  • Snags (standing dead trees) provide habitat for a number of different species. 
    • Tree frogs and bark beetles live under the bark. 
    • Woodpeckers and other birds feed on the insects that live in snags. 
    • Chickadees nest in the holes created by woodpeckers and squirrels store food in them. 

What to do:

  1. Go outside and find a tree to study. Make some observations and write them in your science journal:
    • What other plants depend on this tree?  
    • What animals depend on this tree?
    • What plants or animals visit this tree?
    • What plants or animals live on or in it?
    • How do you know?
  2. Draw pictures of the plants and animals you found on the tree, this will be especially helpful if you cannot identify the organism. With a labeled drawing, you can identify it inside with the help of field guide or the internet
  3. Organize your findings:
  • where on the tree the organism was found?
  • Does the plant or animal only visit the tree or do they live on it?
  • Does the organism eat parts of the tree?
  • Does the organism store food in the tree?

4.  Identify how each plant and animal you observed benefits the tree, and how it affects the tree.

5. Research local tree species to find out what adaptations trees have that prevent them from becoming a habitat for other organisms. For example, some trees have high levels of tannin in the bark which keeps away insects and fungus diseases.

Contact with questions or comments.