Who and What Lives Here? Biodiversity Plot Sampling

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1 Who and What Lives Here? Biodiversity Plot Sampling A GEN Eco-Standards Check Activity Essential Question(s): How diverse is your school site? What is plot sampling? At A Glance: In this plot sampling survey learners count species in different areas of their site. Background Information: Two common methods that scientists use to complete a biodiversity study of organisms in one local habitat are plot studies and line transects. A transect is a long, narrow sampling area, while a plot study is a square area that can be divided into subplots. Transects extend over a longer portion of a study area than a plot does, resulting in a larger sample of different plant species. However, plot studies are useful for small areas that have a great variety of plant life. Learners in this activity will use the plot sampling method. Location: outside at club site, classroom Objectives: Learners will 1) count the numbers of different organisms in a sample of their school site. 2) understand the concept of a sample being a representation of the whole. Skills: research, answer own questions, measure, collect data, conduct investigation, species identification, using tools Supplies: tape measure or meter stick or hula-hoop flagging or string paper pencil Standards Checks data sheet Recognizing the differences between species is necessary in Subjects: science, math order to do this Standards Check survey. It is important to avoid duplicate counts of the same species. In order for Time: minutes learners to be able to distinguish between species, review of general features may be required. You may wish for learners to work in smaller groups to gather data with each group sampling an organism type, or in one large group with each learner sampling the same data that can later be averaged. Getting Ready: Decide whether the group will be working as a large group or in smaller groups. Familiarize yourself with the sampling area and inspect it for fire ants, poison ivy, etc. Familiarize learners with general groupings of species that they may find, such as lichens, fungi, plants and animals (including insects). Explain the purpose of the activity to survey the biodiversity of an area and clarify the meaning of biodiversity and its importance. Procedure: 1. Explain to students that there are two common methods that scientists use to complete a biodiversity study of organisms in one local habitat: plot studies and line transects. A transect is a long, narrow sampling area, while a plot study is a square area that can be divided into subplots. Transects extend over a longer portion of a study area than a plot does, resulting in a larger sample of different plant species. However, plot studies are useful for small areas that have a great variety of plant life.

2 2. Explain to students that in this activity they are going to complete a biodiversity study of organisms using a plot study. Plot sampling is to take place at Checkpoints. Each group of learners is designated a direction and sets up their plot one meter from the Checkpoint. 3. Mark a plot that is 2 meters square. Use the measuring tape and flagging or string to mark the boundaries or use hula-hoops to sample the different areas. 4. Make sure to mark the sample area on your Biodiversity Map so that the counts may be duplicated in a following year. 5. Alternatively, this activity can be done by randomly selecting sites for plot sampling by tossing a hula-hoop backwards over your shoulder. 6. Explain that the learners will count all of the different types of plants, fungi, lichen, insects (or other animals) and animal signs that they see within the plot. Learners can make a tally mark in the appropriate box on the Standards Checks data sheet as they count. 7. When sampling is complete, compile the information. Discussion/Assessment: Review I wonder questions from the Biodiversity Map activity and formulate new ones to be considered by learners. Which areas were the most diverse? Which areas need greater biodiversity? Engage learners in a discussion about biodiversity. Introduce the idea of threatened or endangered species and discuss the effects that extinction of a species might have on others in the ecosystem. What do they think would help to increase the biodiversity on their site? Why should we promote greater biodiversity? Extension Activity: Worksheet 2 Help My home is in danger! Background: A habitat is an area that provides an animal or plant with adequate food, water, shelter and living space in a suitable arrangement. It is also a place for reproduction. There are many reasons why plants become endangered: loss of habitat, invading plants, changes in climate or habitat, wild collecting and over harvesting, pesticides, pollution, disease and off road vehicles. Loss of habitat is still the main reason that plants are endangered and it is caused by human development. Procedure: 1. Discuss with the students the definition of habitat. Give each student or team of students, Worksheet 2: Help My home is in danger! Review how the worksheet might be completed for a n organism such as a bird that is depicted on the sample worksheet.. 2. Have the students select a school site organism and complete the habitat requirements on Worksheet Discuss the answers with the students.

3 Biodiversity Department ECO-STANDARDS CHECK WHAT LIVES HERE? BIODIVERSITY PLOT SAMPLING Team Members Date Time Checkpoint # or Name Direction (circle): N NE NW S SE SW E W Weather Conditions: Temperature Cloud Cover/Sun Wind INSTRUCTIONS: Place your square meter markers or hula hoop 1 meter from your checkpoint either N S E or W (as selected above). Survey your plot for the following organisms. Put tally marks i.e X, for each organism observed and counted. If available use a digital camera to photo-document your findings and place them in your Club Log. Green Plants Fungi Animals Animal Signs Compile the total number of species in the chart below. Total # of Plants Species Total # of Fungi Species Total # of Animal Species Total # of Animal Signs MODIFICATION: Consider doing additional square meter samples for specific organisms such as earthworms, ants, dandelions etc.

4 PLOT SAMPLING: BIODIVERSITY COUNTS! WORKSHEET 2 (optional) What school site organism might say Help My Home is in Danger? School Site Organism: Draw a picture of the organism and its home below: What habitat requirements does this organism have? Food: Shelter: Water: Spatial Arrangement: Why is this school site organism s home in danger? What can you do to help this organism?

5 SAMPLE PLOT SAMPLING: BIODIVERSITY COUNTS WORKSHEET 2 What school site organism might say Help My Home is in Danger? School Site Organism: BIRDS Draw a picture of the organism and its home below: What habitat requirements does this organism have? Food: SEEDS, NUTS, INSECTS, BERRIES Shelter: TREES FOR NESTS Water: FOR DRINKING AND BATHING Spatial Arrangement: SHELTER SHOULD BE PROTECTED FROM PREDATORS Why is this school site organism s home in danger? LACK OF TREES What can you do to help this organism? PLANT MORE TREES AND PUT OUT BIRD FOOD AND BIRD BATH

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