Fall 2013 - The Wonderful Diversity of Life
BiodiversityNew York State is rich in biodiversity. From wetlands to grasslands, farms to forests, open ocean to inland waters, multiple habitats support tens of thousands of species of animals, plants and other living things. At first glance, biodiversity seems pretty straightforward-the variety of life on Earth. Upon further investigation, we see that it is much more complex and involves not only an inventory of life, but also an acknowledgement of the relationships and interactions among different species, the places they call home, and the resources they depend upon for survival. Understanding biodiversity helps us understand broader issues relating to life on Earth and opens discussions related to endangered species and loss of habitat.
A simple demonstration may help you to illustrate biodiversity to your students. Using common toy blocks, have each student label one or two blocks with the name or photo of a different species of living thing. Include plants, animals, fungi, microbes, etc. Build a tower or pyramid with the blocks. (Species found in the same habitat could be stacked near each other to represent the relationships they have in nature.) Once the tower is complete, remove one block from anywhere in the structure. What happens? What do the students think will happen if more blocks are removed? Are some blocks more critical to the structure than others? Continue removing blocks until the tower falls. Try building the tower with just a few blocks versus building it with many blocks. Which is more stable? The more diverse a natural system is, the more stable it is. More diverse systems are better able to respond to change because they are less vulnerable.
Teacher WorkshopsFor teachers who have participated in a Project WILD or Project Learning Tree workshop, the activities listed below complement the fall 2013 issue of Conservationist for Kids. Visit our workshops for educators webpage for information about workshops and about how to obtain curriculum and activity guides.
Project WILD:Too Close for Comfort
Move Over Rover
Rare Bird Eggs
Hazardous Links, Possible Solutions
Project Learning Tree:Picture This
Web of Life
Life on the Edge