Topic 3: Biodiversity and Conservation

Biodiversity and Conservation

Students tend to really enjoy this topic but that may reflect my own interest in the topic. I find that students are engaged when they can choose their own case studies. With experience you can help guide students towards locations and species which encourage a holistic approach, making links with other topics in the syllabus. I will try to give my own tips too. 

I have decided to leave this unit until the end of the course for a number of reasons. It lends itself very well to drawing together ideas from many other topics. In fact I think you can link to every other topic. There is also less opportunity for practical work unless you link it directly with topic 2.5. Of course this would be a good idea if it fits your circumstances.

Along with this topic, there is the opportunity to invite local conservation groups to give talks or to visit a local protected area. I take my students to the zoo and we focus on species which are involved in species based conservation programmes and highlight the CITES treaty.

The unit can be subdivided conceptually into the ideas, What is Biodiversity, How is biodiversity formed, What are the threats to biodiversity, and How can we protect/conserve biodiversity? By breaking the unit into these chunks, it really helps students frame their thinking in the unit.

Significant Ideas:

  • Biodiversity can be identified in a variety of forms, including species diversity, habitat diversity and genetic diversity.
  • The ability to both understand and quantify biodiversity is important to conservation efforts.
  • Evolution is a gradual change in the genetic character of populations over many generations, achieved largely through the mechanism of natural selection.
  • Environmental change gives new challenges to species, which drives the evolution of diversity.
  • There have been major mass extinction events in the geological past.
  • While global biodiversity is difficult to quantify, it is decreasing rapidly due to human activity. Classification of species conservation status can provide a useful tool in the conservation of biodiversity.
  • The impact of losing biodiversity drives conservation efforts.
  • The variety of arguments given for the conservation of biodiversity will depend on EVSs.
  • There are various approaches to the conservation of biodiversity, each with associated strengths and limitations.

Recommended Teaching Time (not including practicals): 13 hours

3.1 Introducing Biodiversity

This sub-topic involves knowing some important definitions but links to 2.5 Investigating Ecosystems in which students have learned how to compare sites biodiversity and species richness and 2.4 Zonation...

3.2 Mass Extinctions and the 6th Extinction

There have been five major mass extinction events during the Earth's geological history. Students need to understand the type of environmental changes which led to these extinction events and what were...

3.2 Origins of Biodiversity

I always tell students this is my favourite topic as it relates strongly to my Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and takes me back to my years of study!This sub-topic brings natural selection and evolution...

3.2 Plate Tectonics, Evolution and Biogeography

I find this topic really interesting and I usually teach this section as an old fashioned lecture with additional media. This means we can get through all the material in one hour but there are lots of...

3.3 3 Tropical Biomes - Sustainable Development

There isn't a direct significant idea for the two knowledge statements relating to tropical biomes but it is a very important topic to discuss and highlights the challenges that less wealthy, developing...

3.3 IUCN Red List - Factors for Conservation Status

One way I have avoided just telling students this information, is to have them produce a joint presentation that covers the factors. They need to explain why each factor used to determine the conservation...

3.3 Threats to Biodiversity

To start this sub-topic we need to understand the challenges to quantifying the number of species that exist in the world. This gives an opportunity to link to and the way that scientists work. This also...

3.4 Conservation of Biodiversity

After the previous sub-topic this is an opportunity to fill the students with possibilities and good news stories. Of course it isn't all good news and students need to learn to critically analyse the...

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