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Posts Tagged ‘ecology’

Conservation International (CI) has asked for student assistance to develop site-specific conservation plans for biodiversity hotspots worldwide. You will select an identified hotspot, researching key species present, learn about the region and culture, and identify threats to and stakeholder roles in the region. You will then develop plans to conserve the biodiversity of the region.

Unit Essential Questions

  • How do species become threatened or endangered?
  • How does the disappearance of one species affect the larger system?
  • What are some actions that humans might take to slow the current rate of extinction?

Unit Enduring Understandings

  • Species can become threatened or endangered due to habitat loss or changes resulting from human actions or natural forces.
  • The extinction of one species has consequences for the entire system due to essential species’ interactions called symbioses.
  • There are a number of conservation measures that can be taken to slow or prevent the decline of a species.

Procedure

  1. Select a hotspot from the list held by the teacher. Write your name on the list; only one person per hotspot. Read the overview of hotspots at http://www.conservation.org/How/Pages/Hotspots.aspx.
  2. Research key species living within that ecosystem (e.g., kingdom, phylum, habitat, food needs, and so on), using http://www.cepf.net/resources/hotspots/Pages/default.aspx and other teacher-approved sites. Consider ALL organisms, not just Animalia. Count the number of relationships each species has with other species and record it on an organizer for that species.  Answer the following questions in your science journal:
  • Which species are most important to your ecosystem and why (e.g., food, habitat, reproduction factor)?
  • Are the important species animals? plants? fungi?
  • Which species in your ecosystem has the most relationships with other species? Which have the fewest?
  • What role do abiotic elements play in your ecosystem?
  1. Determine and describe a conservation action that can be taken to ensure the future of the hotspot you researched. Consider the needs of the hotspot you are researching and identify one action that could be taken to better conserve the biodiversity of the area.  There are many different conservation approaches that could be taken for avoiding the extinction of a threatened species or protecting areas of key biological activity. Some of these ideas are shown in Table 1 below, but you may have ideas of your own.   Describe your action plan fully, identifying resources needed and timeline for implementation.
  2. Create an online presentation of your research project. Potential online resources include google docs, prezi, glogster, weebly. You may know of others.
  3. Present your research to the class in a formal and professional manner. Include documentation of recorded species and your proposed idea.

Vocabulary

Endemic:           A plant or animal native to or restricted to a certain locality, region, or area.

Biodiversity:    Biological diversity – or biodiversity – is the term given to the variety of life on Earth. It is the variety within and between all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems within which they live and interact. Biodiversity is explored at three levels: genetic diversity; species diversity; and ecosystem diversity.

Biodiversity hotspots:  To qualify as a hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria: it must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants (> 0.5 percent of the world’s total) as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat.

Table 1.  Potential Actions

Create incentives and legislation to reduce hunting pressure.
Control of invasive species.
Captive breeding programs, propagation, and re-introduction of threatened species.
More effective management of protected areas.
Adding new parks and reserves in the highest priority portions of unprotected intact habitat.
Restoring degraded habitats to provide increased connectivity (to decrease fragmentation).
Establishment, expansion and management of protected areas
Implementation of innovative economic alternatives such as ecotourism and conservation concessions.
Influence the behavior of people at the local level, through education, and at the national level, through policy work and awareness campaigns
Working with international corporations to ensure that their business practices do not contribute to further biodiversity loss.
Collaborating with a single expert to protect a threatened species to avoid its extinction
Working with the government of the country to facilitate national conservation initiatives.
Leveraging other organizations to protect biodiversity in the hotspot.

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Ocean currents are constantly moving mixing hot and cold water. They move in circular motions and can change depending on surrounding weather conditions. Things that end up in the water that don’t dissolve (like plastic) get carried around the oceans in a never ending loop. We have learned that plastic harms both fish and us. There is no such thing as a organic fish because the entire ocean is contaminated by the plastic in the water. We are planning on decreasing our purchases on water bottles. Instead we will drink out of glass and aluminum water bottles/ cups.

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Over the past several weeks, we have been learning about ocean currents and plastic pollution throughout the world. Plastic is used in various ways such as a packaging and is used so often that people don’t even realize that plastics are used in their everyday necessities. People all over the world are beginning to understand plastic pollution and are oust the use of plastic in their everyday life. A solution people often begin with is to begin using a recyclable grocery bags instead of the thin plastics one the store provides for us. After viewing many videos about plastic pollution we have decided to participate in the effort towards decreasing plastic pollution. One action we would consider taking part in, is using recyclable glass bottles and jars for food products such as milk, jams, butters, and condiments. In our households, we go through a lot of milk cartons and plastic containers for food each week. After one year’s time, those plastic products will add up, and will take part in the plastic pollution. Most people think that their non-recycling actions will not affect the world around them because they are only one person, but in retrospect, each person does have an effect in making the world a better place to live.

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Sand is always moving. The beaches you might visit everyday are not perminent features. The shape and size of beaches change everyday on a small scale and somtimes drastically over a longer period of time. The changes occur becasue of various reasons but its always because of the sand moving.

In our Oceanography class we looked at different sand samples from around the United States under microscopes and noticed the many differences. Some of the differences are visable to the naked eye and some require the use of a microscope. Here is the list of traits we observed:

  • Color
  • Magnetite
  • Size
  • Texture
  • Wentworth Scale
  • Sorting
  • Composition

A few days after doing our observations we went on a field trip to our local beach. We looked at the sand closely but it did not look any different than the sand we were used to. Although the sand varys greatly around the world, it usually doesnt look very different when the beaches are close to each other. The drastic changes can only seen if one compares sand from different areas across the world. Here is a few examples of the diversity found in beach sand colors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Rosa_Island,_California

http://www.letsgo-hawaii.com/beaches/punaluu.html

source:

http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/GG/ASK/beacherosion.html

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I was sitting in class one day when my teacher told us we were going to be learning about biodiversity in the different biomes of the world and the creatures and plant life that inhabit them. The only thing is she put a twist on learning the unit. She said instead of her giving us a big lecture on the different biomes and the fauna and flora that inhabit them she told our class of about twenty to choose a biome and make a brochure on that biome.I ended up choosing a deciduous forest and I found it interesting that many of the biomes are classified by how many seasons they have. For example my biome had four seasons Summer,Winter,Fall, and Spring whereas other biomes such as the Tundra only have two seasons Summer and Winter. I also found out from my class mates presenting their own brochures that a rain forest has very poor soil but a deciduous forest has very rich soil I found that very perculiar because one would think that an area with so much life would have very good soil but because of all the rain the nutrients are washed away but in the deciduous forest the ground keeps most of its fertility. A couple other determining factors on the biomes are the temperature the climate and the elevation. I thought the way we learned this unit was very interesting and it probed our thinking and creative abilitys and introduced us to a new way of learning. So instead of learning about envirments that are long gone we could learn about enviornments that interest us.

Jeff H.

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On Friday, D period class went outside to discuss the world’s biomes. I really liked going outside. It helped me visualize how our area would be different in different biomes. I liked the brochures idea, although as a result from School Loop dying and a power outage, many students did not have them in. That was a pity because I felt like we could have talked about biomes more/stayed outside longer. I noted the similarities and differences the alpine and tundra biomes had. They are both cold, have high winds, and had snow in the winter but less or not at all in the summer. The alpine was all over the globe, while the tundra was mostly in the Arctic Circle region. I really liked how the class was structured on Friday.

Jacques L.

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Today is International Biodiversity Day, one of my absolute favorite topics (ask any of my students)! People around the world are recognizing the value of biodiversity better than the people of the this country do.  Peasant Haitian farmers are refusing to plant Monsanto seeds and have vowed to burn them, calling the seeds “…a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds…and on what is left of our environment in Haiti.”  Elsewhere, an island in the Pacific, the Republic of Nauru, is actively fighting to regain their island biodiversity following a decade of mining.

Teaching biology this year has not been as satisfying as I would have expected it to be, had I not been told to stick closely to the curriculum of the Science Department. Biology could have been a lot more enjoyable if we were not trying to teach every biology topic that has the potential to be on the MCAS exam. The curriculum attaches ecology to the end of the year where, in my mind, it should start off the year and be referenced as other topics are investigated. While I could not start the year with ecology, I have been integrating the ideas throughout the year, as I could.

This past week I introduced the H I P P O acronym to causes of loss of biodiversity. We thought about the procession of plants in a rocky or watery landscape, and went outside and looked at examples of succession on and near our school campus. Students then, sitting beside the pond, drew a series of pictures that illustrated succession. After creating biome travel brochures, we presented them and discussed differences between the flora and fauna of the various biomes, while sitting in a circle in the sun. The week felt like a kinder, gentler classroom.

The seniors put a trampoline on campus as a joke; it made a great spot to sit and talk.

This week my plan is to overlap MCAS prep with more discussions of biodiversity, keystone species, and the devastation of the Gulf oil spill. The oil spill is obviously not in our ten-year-old books, nor is it on the curriculum, but it provides a good opportunity to discuss the impacts of humans on the biosphere. It is my belief that teachers and curriculums need to be flexible enough to take in current events and make connections between what is “in the book” and what is happening here and now.

 ~ Ms. McCarron

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