Biodiversity and Habitat Loss

Brief description

In this set of three activities, students will start with a reading assignment that introduces vocabulary and ideas that are key to considering the relationship between climate change and ecosystems. A field survey of a local area, which can be carried out using home-made equipment, is extended to include a measurement of biodiversity that can later be used to compare the likely resilience of different regions. In the final activity, students use the Climate from Space web application to explore how a range of appropriate factors describing the habitat of a local species have changed, relating this to recent and potential changes in the population of the species

Subject Geography, Science, Earth Science, Biology, Ecology

Learning Objectives
  • Define keywords related to the topic
  • Explain why biodiversity is important, including climate impacts
  • Carry out a field survey of plant life
  • Calculate a measure of biodiversity from a field survey
  • Use the Climate from Space web application to explore changes to abiotic factors affecting a habitat
  • Evaluate the effect of habitat changes on a local species
Age range
14 – 16 years old
Time
approximately 45 minutes per activity
Resource available in:
Activity 1: Key Ideas
In this reading-based activity, pupils will create a glossary of key terms. The activity is suitable for independent learning by students who are confident readers. It could be used at the start of a topic to assess students’ understanding of concepts, some of which they may have met in earlier studies. In the classroom, you can use material from the related Climate from Space story to illustrate the text.
Activity 2: Measuring Biodiversity
In this activity, students will use the results of a local field survey to calculate a measure of biodiversity. Each group of students will need to take random samples of the area they choose to survey. Standard textbooks and sources describe various ways of doing this and an appropriate method to the specific situation (ability of students, size of survey area and class, local hazards, etc.) should be used. 
Equipment
  • Quadrat – one per group
  • Camera or smartphone – one per group (optional)
  • Internet access or/and field guide to local plants – one per group
  • Student worksheet 2 (2 pages)
  • Biodiversity Activity 2 spreadsheet from the Biodiversity and habitat loss section of the ESA Climate for Schools webpage (https://climate.esa.int/en/educate/climate-for-schools/) or/and calculator
Activity 3: Local Habitats
In this activity, students identify the factors describing the habitat of a local species, use the Climate from Space web application to determine how some of those factors have changed over recent years, and consider the reasons for and impacts of these changes. It may be carried out by individuals or pairs/small groups. If students are working together or/and are unfamiliar with the web application, it would be useful to do at least the first part of the exercise in class, although the activity is suitable for independent learning. 

Did you know?

We share our planet with millions of other living species – animals, plants, fungi and smaller organisms. Scientists refer to this variety of life as biodiversity. Healthy land ecosystems are home to many herbivores (animals that feed on plants), fewer carnivores (animals that feed on herbivores) and a small number of top carnivores (carnivores that feed on other carnivores). Biodiversity sustains this pyramid and is
one way we can measure the health of the planet or areas of it. Biodiversity is especially high in forests, which contain more than 80% of all land-based animal and plant species. Biodiversity is endangered by a lot of factors. 

The spatial resolution

The observation of our planet with the help of satellites largely depends on the different characteristics of their sensors. The spatial resolution, that is explained in this video, is one of these characteristics. Video by...

The Electromagnetic Spectrum – Introduction

Learn about the electromagnetic spectrum and how satellites can see the invisible. Video by ESERO Germany (in English).

Causes and Consequences

In this short video, Dr Natalie Douglas, a climate scientist, explains what could be some of the causes and consequences of climate change and why a 0.5 degree of temperature difference can be so important....

Ocean views

Ice and snow can be a hot topic when talking about climate. The polar regions are very fragile and can tell us a lot about how Earth’s climate is changing. Andrew Shepherd of the University...