Carnivorous Centipedes and Healthy Ecosystems


The terms “top predator” and “keystone species” often evoke images of large mammalian carnivores like lions in Africa or wolves in North America. Smaller, less famous, predators like centipedes play a big role in keeping ecosystems healthy and balanced. This lesson spotlights creepy predators to engage students in thinking about the healthy regulation of ecosystems and complex interactions among species.

20 minutes

A quick lesson to engage students in critical thinking about ecosystems and species interactions.


Middle School Life Science, High School Biology, AP Biology, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, College Environmental Science, Natural Resources, Ecology, Forestry, Conservation Biology, Environmental Studies

You will need:

Printed Paper maps

Digital map files

Online half-earth map

Carnivorous Centipedes and Healthy Ecosystems

Learning Objectives

  • Interpret scientific research to understand the role of a predator in its ecosystem
  • Document observations, use data to identify trends and differences, and discuss conservation approaches

Key Terms + Conditions

  • Ecosystem Balance
  • Species Interaction 
  • Marine Predators
  • Predator Behavior
  • Keystone Species
  • Ecological Niche
  • Habitat Loss
  • Species Recovery
  • Invasive Species

Lesson Resources

Top tips for Instructors

Prior to the Data Play activity, use this article from The Conversation about predatory arthropods to help students understand the role of the centipede in the Phillip Island ecosystem.

Predators make other populations healthier. Share this article from the National Parks Service to explore scientific research on gray wolf recovery in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), including its benefits to biodiversity.

Continue students’ understanding of ecological niches and predator importance using this exercise from HHMI Biointeractive, which explores research discussed in the film Some Animals are More Equal than Others. The short film follows ecologists as they study the ecosystem impacts of removing starfish from tidal pools.

More Teaching Tools

Compare ×
Compare National Report Cards Continue Reviewing


[pmpro_signup submit_button="Register" level="1" login="1" redirect="referrer"]