a family touching the kelp tank
©Tracie Spence Photography


In our world, everything is connected. Plants, animals, people, weather, water, soil—all are part of a delicate balance. Living things can change their environments—and through a process called adaptation, environments can even change living things! With a visit to Ecosystems, discover amazing environments from the familiar to the fantastic, and find out how the physical and living worlds affect--and in some ways, define—each other. Investigate the gallery's eight Zones, each of which explores a different ecological principle.

  • Extreme Zone Desert, fallen cactus animal display

    Extreme Zone

    Peer into some of the world's harshest environments—deserts, poles, the rocky shore and deep-sea vents—and see how life adapts to survive.

  • kelp forest diver

    Forest Zone

    Explore the kelp forest to learn about the wide variety of life forms in an ecosystem, where the diversity comes from, and why it's important.

  • Rivers of Air exhibit

    River Zone

    Get splashed and sandy while you investigate the ways flowing fluids carry energy and materials from place to place.

  • Island Zone

    Island Zone

    Find out how isolation reveals the processes of evolution and adaptation.

  • Rot Room log with Science Center guests

    Rot Room

    See how rotting animals and plants help make the soil ready to support new life.

  • Global Zone globe in use by guests

    Global Zone

    Discover the ways living and physical ecosystems interact on a global scale, and find out how Earth itself is one huge ecosystem.

  • Light Switch bike from LA Zone

    L.A. Zone

    Learn about the challenges faced by urban ecosystems when it comes to water, waste, energy and wildlife.

  • Staff and Kids in the Discovery Room

    Family Discovery Room

    Explore how our homes are habitats, providing us—as well as pets and pests—with food, water and shelter.