Species Area Effect
ABSTRACT: Reducing habitat area reduces species diversity and
the number of members within a species. In addition, when the number of
individuals of a given species of macrobiota falls below 400, the entire
population is in extreme danger of extinction (Wilson, 1992). Two inquiry
labs will be briefly described to test this hypothesis. One lab will use
the local grocery stores as an example of habitat size, species diversity,
and intraspecific numbers. An additional lab using square plywood pieces
and invertebrates will help verify the above concepts.
Grocery Store Biodiversity
Set cooperative group size (usually 2-4)
Each group will choose a minimarket, a convenience food store, and a large
grocery store as their analogous habitats.
They will then decide on a genus (particular type of food) to study and
prepare a method on how to measure its variability.
The groups will return and analyze the species diversity between the three
Different size parking lots can be used and car models used instead of
Ethnic food stores are a source of various habitats (analogous to different
Clothing stores can also be used comparing small boutiques to large department
School Grounds Invertebrate Biodiversity
Have your student choose different size pieces of plywood, masonite, etc.,
and place them on litter cleared ground.
Have them come back at a designated time and scrape the invertebrates off
the bottom into a garbage bag.
Place in freezer or use fly nap to anesthetize them.
Have students make diversity and numbers counts.
Dichotomous keys can be used.
Movement of boards close to or away from a different habitat (e.g. forest
Vary the amount of time boards are in place.
Vary the time of day boards are collected.
Change moisture content of area covered by board (Rain or artificially
Compare and analyze diversity of invertebrates found between different
Students could be given, hypothetically, 10 million dollars to purchase
habitat(s) with the intent of protecting the greatest number of species.
They can use the Internet to locate endangered habitats and species in
making their decision.
Note: These labs can be done with most age groups. The differences
would simply be use of classification keys, identification manuals, and
mathematical analyses. Adapta-tions of these labs have been used from middle
school life science through Advanced Placement Biology.
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Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
CN 5281, Princeton NJ 08543-5281 - Tel:(609)452-7007
Technical contact: email@example.com