Ecosystems: Explore

Through understanding the levels of organisation in an ecosystem, learners can appreciate the importance of how high biodiversity in a particular area increases the likelihood of ecosystem stability in the face of environmental changes. A range of activities allow learners to explore human impact on ecosystems and the species within them. 

This is recommended as session two of the Key Stage Four Ecosystems Biology Unit, exploring the importance of biodiversity. 

KS4

Preparation

Green Skills

  • Recording data
  • Interpreting data

Curriculum Links  

Biology

Ecosystems

  • Organisms are interdependent and are adapted to their environment
  • The importance of biodiversity
  • Methods of identifying species and measuring distribution, frequency and abundance of species within a habitat

Working Scientifically

While teaching the outcomes outlined above the following working scientifically skills objectives can be delivered

  • Recognising when to apply a knowledge of sampling techniques to ensure any samples collected are representative
  • Making and recording observations and measurements using a range of apparatus and methods

Geography

Global ecosystems and biodiversity

  • The interdependence of ecosystems on climate, soil, water, plants, animals and humans  

Step by step

Quick Starter Activity  

Watch this 8-minute video 'Biodiversity is collapsing worldwide. Here's why.' from Our Changing Planet, exploring the impact of climate change on biodiversity. It explores examples in America, but similar patterns can be observed in the UK: 

Preview image for the video "Biodiversity is collapsing worldwide. Here's why.".

Ask learners to make a list of the different ways climate change is having a negative impact on biodiversity (Possible responses: shifting seasons, increase in extreme weather events, decline in food sources). Challenge learners to consider how climate change is affecting ecosystems and species in the UK. 

Main Activity Suggestions  

Suggestion 1 (Indoor) 

Royal Geographic Society: Coral Reef Ecosystems. This activity uses a case study of Menjangan Island, in Bali, for learners to explore how both natural changes and humans are having an impact on the diversity and abundance of flora and fauna in a reef ecosystem. The resource promotes the consideration of mitigation and work with the community to make educated and sustainable use of this environment.

Suggestion 2 (Indoor) 

Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour: Eco-Divo. Eco-Divo is an educational card game that can be played in two ways. It can be used to learn about ecosystems and biodiversity and explore the extraordinary natural history of organisms in the UK. It can also be used to discover species interactions, human impacts and diversity while competing or collaborating in building a fascinating food web.  

Suggestion 3 (Outdoor) 

ESA: Biodiversity and habitat loss. This resource from the European Space Agency climate change resource pack explores the topic of biodiversity and how habitat loss is a key driver of global biodiversity loss occurring today. Students explore the importance of biodiversity focusing in particular on distributions of common species of plants and animals in their own localities.

Top Tips 

For further information about what is meant by the term biodiversity and why it is important, these adaptable slides from the Natural History Museum can be used in the classroom: Teacher primer: What is Biodiversity? 

It is important that learners have space to share their feelings and responses to their learning about the ecological crisis and rapid biodiversity decline. Ensure there is time at the end of the lesson for learners to ask questions and discuss their responses to the ideas covered.