Biodiversity encompasses the variety within and between species in an environment. Native communities host a diverse array of species and interactions among members. Invasions by non-native species reduce biodiversity and a community's ability to support diverse assemblages, and are among the largest drivers of modern species extinctions. The Keep It Native Demonstration (KIND) Garden demonstrates the differences between invaded and intact plant communities. Utilizing this resource, we developed an inquiry-based activity for grades 5–7 that focused on observational data. Student groups recorded the number of animal and plant species in multiple habitat types. We then compiled data from the separate groups and averaged the number of species observed in each habitat type. The results were graphed to enable students to visualize the differences in species diversity among habitats. This exercise illustrated differences in species richness and diversity between invaded and native plant dominated areas, and allowed students to begin initial data interpretation. We provide methods for this activity, strategies for implementing the activity on other sites, and adaptations to accommodate different grade levels and the associated Next Generation Science Standards.
Teaching Complex Ecological Concepts Through a Demonstration Garden: Biodiversity, Invasive Species, and Conservation in Practice
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Carey R. Minteer, Melissa C. Smith, Ellen C. Lake, Eileen Pokorny; Teaching Complex Ecological Concepts Through a Demonstration Garden: Biodiversity, Invasive Species, and Conservation in Practice. The American Biology Teacher 1 May 2018; 80 (5): 346–352. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2018.80.5.346
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