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Biodiversity

Biodiversity is a word that addresses the diversity of life on Earth. Plants, animals, people, and bacteria–oh my! The dynamic diversity within and between ecosystems, species within systems, and the genetic code within those species make up the biodiversity of a region. Subcategories of biodiversity include genetic diversity and species diversity; both inform the characteristics of the biodiversity in the area. Scientists have discovered around 2 million species, but estimate that the Earth supports upwards of 10 to 30 million species or even more! From the tiniest microbe to the most enormous tree, biodiversity is not just in your local park or wildlife preserve–it’s everywhere, even in your front yard. The more diverse the ecosystems, species, and genetic codes are within an area, the more resilient and flexible to change the ecosystem is! Each part of an ecosystem is vital to its long-term survival–so we must continue fostering biodiversity everywhere we can.

Activity 1 – Make a Piechart of Biodiversity

Try to imagine all of the living things on Earth! What categories and species would they belong to? Scientists have discovered around 2 million species but estimate that the Earth supports upwards of 30 million species. How many people are there compared to nonhuman living species? Research and create a pie chart of living things on Earth. Which are the most and which are the least! Ask yourself which ones are important to humans? Post your pie chart to the gallery!

Activity 2 – Map the Biodiversity in Your Neighborhood (Bio Blitz)

How much biodiversity is in your neighborhood? Take a walk around your block and take note of the various types of biodiversity in the area. You can even make a map beforehand and, while walking, mark down where each kind of organism is. Look up, out, and down to find organisms you may not have seen yet. Draw each one that you find!

Activity 3 – Brainstorm Biodiversity in your Biome!

Many cities and towns need better biodiversity. So much of nature’s bounty has been cleared, paved, and developed. Can you think of places that could be used to improve the biodiversity in your neighborhood and your city? Please research healthy ecosystems in your area, finding what flora and fauna they have or do not have in them. Then, draw your yard with all of the biodiversity before people arrive.

Activity 4 – Biodiversity is essential.

Humans are part of nature. We exist in nature; nature provides us this Earth and its systems. Nonhuman life lived and evolved over a billion years before humans arrived. Ethically, many plants, animals, and insects have a right to continue to exist and grow just as humans do. Living things provide food, medicine, and many valuable products that help humans live. Nature also provides a connection with other living things. The living cycles of the air, water, and land provide endless scenes and experiences of beauty. With increased human populations, biodiversity is removed. After walking in your neighborhood, where are the areas where more biodiversity is thriving and where places are lacking?

Activity 5 – Improve Biodiversity

Many cities and towns need better biodiversity due to excessive paving and inattention to local ecosystems. Can you think of any ways that you could improve the biodiversity in your neighborhood, your town, and your state? Please research healthy ecosystems in your area and what flora and fauna they have in them, and then draw what your yard would look like with biodiversity before people built it there.

Activity 6 – Invasive Species

Sometimes, humans and other animals introduce flora and fauna into new areas. Sometimes, this is natural and improves biodiversity. However, invasive species like emerald ash borers, garlic mussels, or sea lamprey can eat up others living things in the food chain and damage the balance of biodiversity, causing species to die or move away. Find out what invasive species are in your area and write about methods being introduced to control or eliminate their spread. Upload invasive species to the gallery.

Activity 7 – Look Beyond your Biome!

Biodiversity varies significantly across the globe, from the depths of the Amazon Rainforest to the middle of an arid desert. Pick a biome or region on Google Earth besides your own, and look into the biodiversity there. How does it differ from the biodiversity where you live? What adaptations have flora and fauna made to flourish? Make a Biodiversity poster of a Biome’s flora and fauna and upload it to the gallery.

Activity 8 – Benefits of Stewardship of Biodiversity

The biodiversity of life forms is part of the trial-and-error development of all forms of life. Biodiversity increases the vitality of ecosystems, and ecosystems are nature’s way of supporting ongoing life. Humans are learning the many benefits of stewardship of biodiversity. For example, many medicinal discoveries connect humans with products generated from flora and fauna; from antibodies to homeopathic remedies, nature abounds with life that can help us cure diseases, soothe our aches and pains, and support our health. Humans are discovering new foods such as plant and insect-based proteins and algae products to help feed the world’s growing population. Conservation areas preserve regions of biodiversity and help protect flora and fauna from extinction. Most importantly, biodiversity improves the resilience of ecosystems, expanding diverse paths for evolution and increasing the stability of food chains and the cycle of life systems. Research the three most biodiverse regions of the world and draw them and some of their human and nonhuman life.

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