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Education
Community Diversity
 

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Learning Objectives

At the end of this lab, students should know...

What is an ecological community?

An ecological community is composed of population networks of various species interacting with each other within the same area.

How do ecologists calculate the biodiversity in a local community?

Biodiversity is a measure of the variety of biological species found in an area and can be calculated using the Shannon-Wiener biodiversity index, which requires two measurements from the local community: species richness and evenness. The richness of an ecosystem is the total number of distinct species within a local community. Evenness refers to the equality of the proportion of each species within an area or community.

How do ecologists count the species in an ecological system?

Ecologists use sampling tools called quadrats. A quadrat is simply a frame with a known internal area. They may also systematically sample by using transect tapes. Transects are stretched across the field and then quadrats are placed along the transect at regular intervals. This method is semi-random and ensures ample coverage of sampling across the entire field to estimate its biodiversity.

What are the core and edge habitats?

A core habitat is located centrally within a patch, surrounded by the same type of habitat. In contrast, an edge habitat, also known as boundary habitat, borders a different habitat type.

What is bioremediation?

Bioremediation involves the release of biological organisms, usually microorganisms, to break down pollutants and restore favorable traits to an ecosystem.

List of Materials

  • Tennis ball
    5
  • Hula Hoop
    5
  • Shovel
    5
  • 10 x Small utility flags
    25
  • Collection material (plastic cups)
    50
  • Permanent markers
    10
  • Printed tables 1 and 2 (1/group)
    5 of each
  • 100 meter measuring tape
    Dependent on the lab size
  • pH, N, K and P indicator strips and capsules
    Dependent on the lab size
  • Computer with spreadsheet software
    Dependent on the lab size

Lab Prep

  1. Setting up for the Lab and Choosing Field Sites
    • Before the experiment, first ensure that the student computers have Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets installed.
    • If using Excel, make sure the data analysis tool pack is loaded.
    • Next, you will need to identify the two fields where the students will take measurements. Both fields should ideally have lengths in any direction of at least 30 meters. One field should be a shrubby or weedy field that has not been mowed recently. The second field should be mowed and consist of more grassy vegetation.
    • In the lab, place the hula hoops, balls, measuring tape, printed tables, and ID guides for the diversity exercise on a desk at the front of the class. Click Here to download Tables 1-5
    • Alongside these, place the shovels and collection materials for the soil health activity.

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