Population (Land Use) and Species Diversity

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					Bill Doolittle, Oakwood Friends School, for the Changing Hudson Project

                      Population (Land Use) and Species Diversity

Time: A day's field trip for data collectio~ and several subsequent class periods for
National Benchmarks: Benchmarks 5A: Diversity of Life; 5D Interdependence of Life;
5E: Flow of Matter and Energy; 9B:Symbolic Relationships; 9D:Uncertainty;
12B:Computation and Estimation; 12D:Communication Skills; 12E:Critical-Response
National Science Content Standards: Science as Inquiry: A; Life Science: C: Biological
Evolution; The Interdependence of Organisms; Matter, Energy, and Organization in
Living Systems; Science and Technology: E: Abilities of Technological Design;
Understandings about Science and Technology; Science in Personal and Social
Perspectives: F: Population Growth; Natural Resources: Environmental Quality; Natural
and Human-induced Hazards; Science and Technology in Local, National, and Global
New York State Standards: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7

Objective:To correlate land-use patterns with species diversity.

Lesson Outline: From a regional map, choose sampling sites in various habitats and
developed areas. These can range fi:om natural undisturbed habitat, preserved areas,
campuses, residential areas, commercial areas, industrial areas. (Remember to obtain
permission to bring a class on non public properties!) Direction of travel can be north
and south along the Hudson Valley or east and west (away from the river). At each
habitat, run a transect (perhaps 50 meters to 200 meters) and include at least three
sampling plots (perhaps 10m x 10m) along the transect. Choose a type or group of
organi!m1 that will be easy to sample quickly, or use population estimates of other
species if data are available. For example, list every tree in the quadrat and measure the
diameter at breast height. Use the Shannon-Wiener Index to calculate species diversity
for each habitat/site. Arrange the species diversity indices in rank order and attempt to
correlate with land use (or human population). Calculate the basal area for each tree
species in a habitat.

Materials: tape measure (100m or 10m), field guides for organisms identified, dbh
tape or linear measuring tape (convert circumference to diameter) construct data charts
for each site,

Engagement: Show students pictures or maps showing land-use practices/levels of
population from actual sites or representative pictures. Students should get an initial
idea of species diversity amongst the habitats.

Exploration: Develop hypotheses about the effects oflandscape use/changes on species
diversity. Which sites are in primary succession and which are in secondary succession?

Explanation: Species diversity is most closely related to habitat complexity. Simplified
or disturbed habitats generally have reduced species diversity, but sometimes a small
disturbance can increase species diversity for awhile. A community in an advanced stage
Bill Doolittle, Oakwood Friends School, for the Changing Hudson Project

of succession may have slightly greater species diversity than a climax community
(supposing one can be found).

 Extension: Look at the connections (migration corridors) between undisturbed or less
 disturbed parcels of land. What animal species might be adaptable enough to use these
 migration corridors to extend their habitat area? Where might they feed? Where might
 they nest? What is the effect on interactions of species that live on land and also use the
quality downstream? Considering a larger segment of the larger watershed, what other
inputs/discharges might affect water quality? How might the relative contributions
change through the seasons, as water flow decreases or increases?
How might the relative contributions change after a large storm? How might the relative
contributions change during a drought period?

Evaluation: Compare the various group conclusions drawn from data collected.
Compare the hypotheses developed from Extension questions.