B6.1 Monitoring and maintaining the environment
Navigate to resources by choosing units within one of the unit groups shown below.
BM6.1i - calculate arithmetic means
BM6.1ii - plot and draw appropriate graphs selecting appropriate scales for the axes#160;
BM6.1iii - understand and use percentiles
BM6.1iv - extract and interpret information from charts, graphs and tables
B6.1a - explain how to carry out a field investigation into the distribution and abundance of organisms in a habitat and how to determine their numbers in a given area to include sampling techniques (random and transects, capture-recapture), use of quadrats, pooters, nets, keys and scaling up methods
B6.1b - describe both positive and negative human interactions within ecosystems and explain their impact on biodiversity to include the conservation of individual species and selected habitats and threats from land use and hunting
B6.1c - explain some of the benefits and challenges of maintaining local and global biodiversity to include the difficulty in gaining agreements for and the monitoring of conservation schemes along with the benefits of ecotourism
This topic reminds learners how organisms interact with each other and the environment and covers in more detail how human interactions within ecosystems can affect the variety of life. Learners must learn how we collect data using a variety of sampling techniques to monitor our environment and how we interpret that data to identify patterns and relate possible cause and effect. Learners will also look at what we can do to reduce human impact on the environment to maintain local and global biodiversity and what challenges this may entail.
Challenges learners face when tackling this topic at GCSE
There are a large number of key terms learners need to know and understand in this topic, therefore introducing these terms and regular recapping of them in a variety of ways such as DART exercises, key word bingo, odd-one-out, crosswords etc. will help learners remember the terminology and their meanings.
Although learners should not have any major difficulties with the different methods of sampling techniques to estimate distribution and abundance of population size, many will believe that selecting a sample randomly will select the sample evenly from the population i.e. the sample will be a miniature version of the population. They also struggle accepting that 'throwing' a quadrat does not result in a truly random.
Learners may also understand that species have always gone extinct and losing a species does not affect humans directly and so we shouldn't worry about loss of biodiversity as it is natural. It is therefore important to highlight to learners that it is the rate of biodiversity loss as a result of human activity that is key (some sources state up to 1000 times the 'natural' rate). It may also be useful to have learners think about how other organisms are essential for human life such as plants to produce breathable air, decomposers to breakdown organic matter into nutrients for the crops we eat and insects, bees and birds to pollinate these crops. worry about loss of biodiversity as it is natural. It is therefore important to highlight to learners that it is the rate of biodiversity loss as a result of human activity that is key (some sources state up to 1000 times the 'natural' rate). It may also be useful to have learners think about how other organisms are essential for human life such as plants to produce breathable air, decomposers to breakdown organic matter into nutrients for the crops we eat and insects, bees and birds to pollinate these crops.
This worksheet can be used as a plenary after activity 1 or as a homework.
Ask learners how they might use quadrats to find out how the abundance/distribution of plants changes from one area to another with a gradual change in abiotic factors e.g. from a sunny, dry end of a field towards a shaded, damp woodland or along a sand dune moving away from the sea.
Explain the method to learners and ask whether this is random or non-random sampling.
Hand out the worksheet.
Lower ability learners may need some support and information on how to draw a kite diagram. Higher ability learners should be able to use the example on the worksheet as a model.
Unlike plants, most animals are very mobile and as a result it can be more tricky to sample them to estimate their distribution and abundance.
Ask learners the question 'How would you collect a sample animals such as insects etc. to determine population size?' and discuss as a class.
Hand out an envelope of cards 'Sampling Animal Populations' worksheet. One set per pair of learners.
Learners match images of the equipment for different methods of sampling animals to its name and what it collects. Discuss each method of sampling in more detail, asking learners how it could be used etc.
You may decide not to use the cards but to use the images of the pieces of equipment on a power point slide and discuss what they collect and how they are used instead.
It may be useful to have some pooters, a tullgren funnel (this can be made with just a funnel, mesh, clamp and stand and lamp) and some jars to make pitfall traps. Learners can then try each piece of equipment and see what they can collect.
Once you have decided on a method to catch the organism you want to investigate, the capture-recapture method used to estimate the population size of more mobile organisms.
This activity models the process using counters/beads as the 'population'.
Teachers can either hand out question cards for learners to discuss; or type each question on a different slide on a PowerPoint presentation and have learners discuss them one by one.
Learners read the first question card/question on the whiteboard and discuss the answer in pairs for one minute. Each pair of learners pairs up with another pair of learners and discusses the question for a further minute to come up with the perfect answer.
The teacher then asks a group for their answer.
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