From  VDOE's Curriculum Framework - 2003 revised version
Standard 4.5 -Ecosystems & Adaptations
The student will investigate and understand how plants and animals in an ecosystem interact with one another and the nonliving environment. Key concepts include
a) behavioral and structural adaptations;
b) organization of communities;
c) flow of energy through food webs;
d) habitats and niches;
e) life cycles; and
f) influence of human activity on ecosystems.
The concepts developed in this standard include the following:
∑ Organisms have structural adaptations or physical attributes that help them meet a life need.
∑ Organisms also have behavioral adaptations, or certain types of activities they perform, which help them meet a life need.
∑ The organization of communities is based on the utilization of the energy from the sun within a given ecosystem. The greatest amount of energy in a community is in the producers.
∑ Within a community, organisms are dependent on the survival of other organisms. Energy is passed from one organism to another.
∑ The organization of a community is defined by the interrelated niches within it.
∑ The sunís energy cycles through ecosystems from producers through consumers and back into the nutrient pool through decomposers.
∑ An organismís habitat provides food, water, shelter, and space. The size of the habitat depends on the organismís needs.
∑ A niche is the function that an organism performs in the food web of that community. A niche also includes everything else the organism does and needs in its environment. No two types of organisms occupy the exact same niche in a community.
∑ During its life cycle, an organismís role in the community, its niche, may change. For example, what an animal eats, what eats it, and other relationships will change.
∑ Humans can have a major impact on ecosystems.
Habitat is the place or kind of place in which an animal or plant naturally lives.

In order to meet this standard, it is expected that students will be able to:
∑ distinguish between structural and behavioral adaptations.
∑ investigate and infer the function of basic adaptations and provide evidence for the conclusion.
∑ understand that adaptations allow an organism to succeed in a given environment.
∑ explain how different organisms use their unique adaptations to meet their needs.
∑ describe why certain communities exist in given habitats.
∑ illustrate the food webs in a local area and compare and contrast the niches of several different organisms within the community.
∑ compare and contrast the differing ways an organism interacts with its surroundings at various stages of its life cycle. Specific examples include a frog and a butterfly.
∑ differentiate among positive and negative influences of human activity on ecosystems.