Biodiversity in Our World

This course introduces students to biodiversity in the world around them, environmental
factors that influence biodiversity patterns, and human effects on biodiversity. The first
half of the course focuses on biodiversity and associated ecological factors. Students will
be introduced to biodiversity, primarily at the scale of species and ecosystems. In
subsequent lessons, they will learn that local biodiversity depends on environmental
conditions, including feeding interactions, habitat availability, and the geographic
location and large-scale biome of the area. In addition to thinking about how local
biodiversity is determined by environmental factors, students will learn that biodiversity
varies with latitude and climate across the globe.
The second half of the course focuses on relationships between human actions and
biodiversity. Students will develop an understanding of the many ways we rely on
biodiversity and natural resources to provide many goods and services valued by humans.
In addition, they will identify ways humans may exert both positive and negative effects
on biodiversity and the environment. Issues of population, consumption, and land use are
explored in greater detail through hands-on activities. While becoming aware of humanenvironment
interactions locally and globally, students will recognize that their own
decisions and actions, regardless of how small they may seem, can influence biodiversity
and the environment.
Mini-Course Goals
1) To introduce students to biodiversity and its local and global patterns.
2) To introduce students to other ecological concepts that affect biodiversity, including
habitats, biomes, and food webs.
3) To help students identify components of an ecosystem and understand how
ecosystems function.
4) To develop student understanding of how humans can positively and negatively affect
biodiversity and the environment.
5) To encourage students to think about personal choices and local events that may affect
biodiversity and the environment.
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