Exploring the Natural World of the Balkan Peninsula
Lesson Overview

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TIME ALLOTMENT: Two or three 45-minute class periods


In this lesson, students will use segments from Nature: Wild Balkans to explore the roles and interrelationships of organisms in the varied environments of the Balkan Peninsula. In the Introductory Activity, students will identify the Balkan Peninsula on a map and hypothesize what natural environments and wildlife might be present there. Students will use an interactive map to identify different regions of the Balkan Peninsula and the wildlife that resides in each region. In the Learning Activity, students will explore the regions of the Balkan Peninsula in more depth by viewing and discussing segments from the episode. Students will explore the habitats and wildlife of each region and the ways in which species collaborate and compete, as well as the role of humans in these environments. In the Culminating Activity, students will explore one species in depth and create a 3-D diorama or computer-generated simulation of the species in its environment. Students will discuss their projects with the class.


Students will be able to:

  • Describe at least three different habitats in the Balkan Peninsula and the species that reside in each.
  • Explain how species cooperate and compete within an ecosystem.
  • Describe the roles that humans play in the Balkan Peninsula.
  • Discuss one species in depth, including its preferred habitat and how it cooperates and/or competes with other species.


National Science Education Standards

Grades 9-12:

Content Standard C: Life Science
Fundamental concepts and principles that underlie this standard include:
  • The Interdependence of Organisms
    • Organisms both cooperate and compete in ecosystems. The interrelationships and interdependencies of these organisms may generate ecosystems that are stable for hundreds or thousands of years.
    • Living organisms have the capacity to produce populations of infinite size, but environments and resources are finite. This fundamental tension has profound effects on the interactions between organisms.
    • Human beings live within the world’s ecosystems. Increasingly, humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems will be irreversibly affected.
  • The Behavior Of Organisms
    • Organisms have behavioral responses to internal changes and to external stimuli. Responses to external stimuli can result from interactions with the organism’s own species and others, as well as environmental changes; these responses either can be innate or learned. The broad patterns of behavior exhibited by animals have evolved to ensure reproductive success. Animals often live in unpredictable environments, and so their behavior must be flexible enough to deal with uncertainty and change. Plants also respond to stimuli.
    • Like other aspects of an organism’s biology, behaviors have evolved through natural selection. Behaviors often have an adaptive logic when viewed in terms of evolutionary principles.


Nature: Wild Balkans, selected segments

A close look at the Danube Delta (Delta Dunarii), Europe’s most extensive wetland.

A look at the dry and stony region of Dobrudza.

A look at the wildlife and terrain of Durmitor region of the Balkans.

A look at Kopacki Rit, one of Europe’s most extensive and important wetlands.

A look at Skadar Lake, the largest lake in the Balkans.

A look at the terrain and the vultures & other inhabitants of the desolate, mountainous region of Tikves.

Access the streaming and downloadable video clips at the Video Segments Page.


This map on the Nature: Wild Balkans website highlights the different regions highlighted in the episode. This map is used in the Introductory Activity to provide an overview of the different regions of the Balkan Peninsula.

This map features the countries of the Balkan Peninsula.

This page on the Nature: Wild Balkans website features images and descriptions of some of the Balkans’ rarest species. Students could use this as a resource in the Culminating Activity.


For the class:

For each student:


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video segments and websites used in the lesson.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer(s) or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Bookmark any websites that you plan to use in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as del.icio.us or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.Print out one copy of the “Regions of the Balkan Peninsula” student organizer for each student.

Print out one copy of the “Regions of the Balkan Peninsula” answer key.


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