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ERIC Number: EJ796382
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 10
ISSN: ISSN-0002-7685
Teaching Students about Biodiversity by Studying the Correlation between Plants & Arthropods
Richardson, Matthew L.; Hari, Janice
American Biology Teacher, v70 n4 p217-220 Apr 2008
On Earth there is a huge diversity of arthropods, many of which are highly adaptive and able to exploit virtually every terrestrial habitat. Because of their prevalence even in urban environments, they make an excellent model system for any life science class. Since plants also exploit virtually every terrestrial habitat, studying the relationship between plants and insects is accessible to all classrooms. The relationship between plants and arthropods is worthy of investigation because the diversity of arthropods, especially insects, exploded when angiosperms evolved. Insects use plants for food, but plants also increase habitat space and thus, trophic complexity. Studying the relationship between plants and arthropods will help students understand that organisms among different taxa are interconnected. Two components of biodiversity are richness (i.e., number of species) and abundance (i.e., number of individuals of each species or taxa). The objective of this project is for students to investigate how plant richness affects insect biodiversity (i.e., richness and abundance across taxa). The plant community directly affects arthropod abundance and richness, so biodiversity of arthropods should be positively correlated to plant richness. In urban environments, the plant community is fragmented and often represented by a limited number of species. The authors developed this project in an urban environment with middle school students to demonstrate how arthropod biodiversity can easily be increased by simple habitat modifications to their yards. Working outside the classroom in students' backyards is the sort of authentic "hook" teachers need to snare their students' attention and engage in real learning. Thus, they developed a simple experimental protocol for studying biodiversity that will allow teachers and their students to determine the diversity of arthropods in various urban habitats. (Contains 3 tables and 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A