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Biodiversity

In this worksheet, students will learn about the importance of biodiversity and how the balance of organism interdependence can be disturbed by human activities and environmental changes.

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Biology: Interactions and Interdependencies

Curriculum subtopic:  Relationships in an Ecosystem

Difficulty level:  

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QUESTION 1 of 10

The image below shows a recreation of two dodo birds. The dodo used to live on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It is now extinct. This means that there are no dodo birds alive anymore.

 

 

The dodo was discovered in early 1500 by European sailors. It was not afraid of humans, as the dodo was not used to them, so it was easily hunted for meat. It was not able to escape since it couldn't fly, so the dodo went extinct in the 1700s. The introduction of a top predator in the dodo's ecosystem (humans!) led to its extinction. Additionally, the dodo's habitat was destroyed for crops and the animals the sailors brought with them (e.g. rats and cats) ate the dodo's eggs. 

 

Ecosystem and Biodiversity

Organisms in an ecosystem depend on each other. In our example, if the grass dies out due to drought, the organisms that feed on it, for example mice, will starve and some of them will die so their population will decrease. This will affect the secondary consumers that feed on them, for example snakes, as they will not be able to find much food. If new animals are introduced to the ecosystem, this will also affect the feeding relationships and the populations of different species.

 

 

Apart from living organisms, there are also environmental factors that can affect populations. Temperature and the availability of water and sunlight are some very important factors. If the temperature suddenly drops, some organisms may die as they are not adapted to the cold, leading to a decrease in their population. Other animals may need to migrate to more suitable environments in order to survive. Finally, a disease outbreak may wipe out whole populations, too.

It has now become clear that every single living organism plays a key role in its ecosystem and extinction of an organism can have devastating effects on the environment. Therefore, it is really important to maintain biodiversity, a measure of the variety of different types of life on Earth. In other words, a measure of the variety of different organisms present in different ecosystems. Biodiversity could refer to different species, difference between similar species and even differences between members of the same species. The latter is especially significant, when it comes to sudden changes in the environment; it is important that some members of a species can quickly adapt to the sudden change in order to survive.

Human activities are responsible for the population reduction of many species. Overfishing has made many fish species endangered. A species is endangered when only a few of its members remain alive. There are many endangered species around the world. The white rhino is one of them; currently only four white rhinos are alive... and only one of them is male. White rhinos and other species have been hunted by poachers for the horns.

Pollution of the environment and climate change have all played a part in disturbing the balance of ecosystems around the world.

The dodo bird used to live on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It is now extinct. What does this mean?

There are plenty of dodo birds living worldwide.

There are only a few dodo birds living in the world.

There are no more dodo birds alive in any part of the world.

Tick three reasons why the dodo bird went extinct.

Dodo birds found new types of food when European sailors settled in Mauritius and ate too much of their foods.

Dodo birds were hunted for meat by humans.

Dodo birds could not fly so could not escape humans when hunted.

New species introduced by European sailors, like cats and rats, ate the dodo eggs.

The dodo interbred with new bird species and went extinct.

Why was the dodo not afraid of humans?

Dodo birds did not evolve to be afraid of humans, because there used to be no humans on the island of Mauritius before Europeans settled in.

Humans did not look scary.

Dodo birds could fight humans so they were not scared of them.

Use the food web in the diagram to answer the next few questions.

 

What will be the consequences of the population of lions decreasing, because of an infection?

Tick two answers.

The population of jackals will increase.

The population of jackals will decrease.

The population of mice will increase.

The population of mice will decrease.

What will be the consequences on the population of kites if green plants in the ecosystem die out because of drought?

The population of kites will increase.

The population of kites will decrease.

The population of kites will stay the same.

What should kites do in order to keep their population the same?

Tick two answers.

Kites could migrate to another place to find food.

Kites could adapt to eating something else in order to survive.

Kites could grow their own food.

Kites could hibernate.

Find the word defined below and type it in the answer box.

'A measure of the variety of different types of life on Earth.'

What is the main reason why many fish species are endangered?

bigger fish eating them

overfishing by humans

a disease outbreak

Why do poachers hunt rhinos and elephants?

for their fat

for their skin

for their horns and tusks

Define the term 'endangered'.

A species is endangered when only a few of its members remain alive.

A species is endangered when none of its members remains alive.

A species is endangered when there are plenty of its members alive around the world.

  • Question 1

The dodo bird used to live on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It is now extinct. What does this mean?

CORRECT ANSWER
There are no more dodo birds alive in any part of the world.
EDDIE SAYS
The dodo bird is extinct; this means that there are no more dodo birds alive in any part of the world.
  • Question 2

Tick three reasons why the dodo bird went extinct.

CORRECT ANSWER
Dodo birds were hunted for meat by humans.
Dodo birds could not fly so could not escape humans when hunted.
New species introduced by European sailors, like cats and rats, ate the dodo eggs.
EDDIE SAYS
There were a few reasons why the dodo went extinct:
• Dodo birds were hunted for meat by humans.
• Dodo birds could not fly so could not escape humans when hunted.
• New species introduced by European sailors, like cats and rats, ate the dodo eggs.
  • Question 3

Why was the dodo not afraid of humans?

CORRECT ANSWER
Dodo birds did not evolve to be afraid of humans, because there used to be no humans on the island of Mauritius before Europeans settled in.
EDDIE SAYS
As there were no humans living on the island of Mauritius, dodo birds did not evolve to be scared of them.
  • Question 4

Use the food web in the diagram to answer the next few questions.

 

What will be the consequences of the population of lions decreasing, because of an infection?

Tick two answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
The population of jackals will increase.
The population of mice will decrease.
EDDIE SAYS
If the population of lions decreases, jackals will not be eaten as much, so their population will increase. For the same reason, the population of wild cats will increase; therefore, they will be eating more mice, so the mice population will decrease.
  • Question 5

What will be the consequences on the population of kites if green plants in the ecosystem die out because of drought?

CORRECT ANSWER
The population of kites will decrease.
EDDIE SAYS
If most green plants die out, there will not be enough food for mice, so their population will decrease. As a consequence, owls and snakes will not have enough food, so their population will also decrease. Kites will find it hard to feed, so their population will decrease, too.
  • Question 6

What should kites do in order to keep their population the same?

Tick two answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
Kites could migrate to another place to find food.
Kites could adapt to eating something else in order to survive.
EDDIE SAYS
The only two sensible answers from the options above are that kites should migrate to a different area, where there is more food, or should try and adapt to eating different things in the same area. These are two possible solutions, but not always feasible.
  • Question 7

Find the word defined below and type it in the answer box.

'A measure of the variety of different types of life on Earth.'

CORRECT ANSWER
biodiversity
EDDIE SAYS
Biodiversity: a measure of the variety of different types of life on Earth. In other words, a measure of the variety of different organisms present in different ecosystems. Biodiversity could refer to different species, differences between similar species and even differences between members of the same species.
  • Question 8

What is the main reason why many fish species are endangered?

CORRECT ANSWER
overfishing by humans
EDDIE SAYS
Many fish species are endangered because of overfishing by humans.
  • Question 9

Why do poachers hunt rhinos and elephants?

CORRECT ANSWER
for their horns and tusks
EDDIE SAYS
Rhinos and elephants are hunted by poachers for their horns and tusks.
  • Question 10

Define the term 'endangered'.

CORRECT ANSWER
A species is endangered when only a few of its members remain alive.
EDDIE SAYS
A species is endangered when only a few of its members remain alive.
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