Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Is There Life in a Decomposing Log?

Go Deeper: Additional Resources and Activities

Interactive Web Game

If you would like to learn more about forests and explore a virtual rotting log, visit the Zoo’s award-winning Conservation Central website to take: A Walk in the Forest: Forest Layers Walk

Books to Read

  • Hunter, Anne. What’s Under the Log? Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1999.
  • Pfeffer, Wendy. A Log’s Life. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1997.
  • Green, Jen. A Dead Log. Crabtree Publishing Company, New York, 1999.
  • Schreiber, Anne. Log Hotel. Scholastic, Inc. New York, 1994.
  • Cole, Joanna. The Magic School Bus Meets the Rot Squad: A Book About Decomposition. Scholastic, Inc. New York, 1995.
  • Brenner, Barbara. One Small Place in a Tree. HarperCollins Publishers, 2004.

Additional Activity Idea: Logs in Different Habitats

Repeat the Outdoor Activity using a different habitat such as your backyard or a community park. Compare the data that are found—what are the similarities and differences between the habitats?

Additional Activity Idea: Write an Advertisement

You’re a log that needs to decompose. Write an advertisement to attract the species that you want to help you decompose. Include in your advertisement:

  • Which class of decomposition you wish to achieve?
  • Descriptive words that would attract species you hope will help you decompose.
  • How many of each species you want to move to your habitat.
  • What opportunities you can provide these species.
  • A drawing your current size and what can be found around you.
  • Drawing of the ideal consumers, producers, and decomposers you wish to attract.

Some guiding questions you should consider are: What could eat me? Dig its roots in me? Make a trail using my wood? Burrow in and make a home out of me? Are there any flying or crawling creatures that could live in me?