Lesson Plan

Biological Diversity at the Dunes

Overall Rating

Add your review
Grade Level:
Third Grade-Fifth Grade
Subject:
Biodiversity, Biology: Animals, Biology: Plants, Wildlife Biology
Duration:
Field measurements: 45 minutes; Classroom activity: 45 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)
Setting:
outdoors
National/State Standards:
Math: 3rd-5th 3.1
Science: 4th grade 2.3
Keywords:
biodiversity, animals, plants

Overview

Students will be able to explain the concept of biological diversity and use observable characteristics to group living things found at the park.

Objective(s)

Students will be able to explain the concept of biological diversity and use observable characteristics to group living things found at the park.

Background

Biological diversity, or biodiversity, refers to the variety and variability of living organisms on the planet. Ecologists tend to focus on three levels of biological diversity: genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity. This activity will focus on species and ecosystem diversity.

Species diversity is the most common level of biological diversity. Species is a word used in biology to refer to a type of organism different from all others. Species diversity is a measure of the number of different species at a location.

An ecosystem is a community of organisms and the physical environment in which they interact. Each ecosystem contains characteristic plants and animals. Some examples of ecosystems are grasslands, deserts, rain forests, conifer forests, and deciduous forests. Great Sand Dunes has high ecosystem diversity where there are a great variety of ecosystems (or community types).

It is also important to note that some ecological systems are less diverse than others. Ecosystems that are in the later stages of succession, such as an old-growth forest, may have low biodiversity. Yet they also have what some ecologists call process integrity. Ecosystems where nutrients are being passed efficiently and where the nitrogen and carbon cycles are intact are considered to have high process integrity.

Explore these Great Sand Dunes' web pages for more on biodiversity at the park:

Materials

Stakes, pencil and paper, hand lenses, butcher paper, colored markers, tape

Procedure

Assessment

Critical Thinking

  1. Is biological diversity important to you?
  2. Are areas with low biological diversity, such as sand dunes important too?

Vocabulary

biological diversity, community, species, succession