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Explain the Human Impact on Local and Global Biodiversity

In this worksheet, students will define biodiversity, explain the importance of stabilising ecosystems, explore how humans have negatively impacted global environments, and explore the benefits and challenges of maintaining biodiversity.

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Every ecosystem is bursting with life!

 

Reminder: An environment is where beings live, but an ecosystem describes living things interacting with non-living things!

 

A rain forest habitat

 

Everywhere you look, you can see communities of different species sharing a habitat and relying on each other for resources to survive.

 

This is called biodiversity: when many different species live together in an ecosystemthis includes plants too!

 

The higher the biodiversity, the more types of species coexist and the more stable the ecosystem.

 

For an ecosystem to be healthy, it needs the following:

 

FOOD + SHELTER + A HEALTHY AND SAFE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT = A STABLE ECOSYSTEM

 

As the Earth is one large ecosystem, this applies to us too, meaning that human survival depends on protecting our environment so that it stays stable!

 

So let’s put all these pieces together:

 

Flow chart for biodiversity

 

The smallest change to one creature can affect everyone, like in a food chain, so preserving nature should be a key responsibility for humans.

 

But, while environmental awareness is increasing, humans have already damaged the world in three major ways:

 

Image to show human impact on biodiversity

 

Deforestation provides land for farming and housing, but fewer trees means fewer habitats and less carbon dioxide gas being absorbed from the atmosphere, destabilising the planet.

 

Next, increasing population is challenging biodiversity, as more people means more waste, and unfortunately, humans are not very good at managing their rubbish!

 

Sewage and fertilisers have contaminated our water, toxic gases and smoke are causing air pollution and landfills are damaging land, along with toxic chemicals.

 

And the one we’re all feeling - global warming! More carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere is heating the planet through the greenhouse effect. The hotter the planet gets, the more biodiversity suffers - just think about the polar bears!

 

A polar bear and her cub

 

We are getting better at helping the planet, but money, the rearrangement and potential loss of jobs, and the increasing population needing to be housed, are all barriers to global improvement.

 

So in summary:

 

COSTS + UNEMPLOYMENT + DEVELOPMENTS = BARRIERS TO CHANGE

 

Girl going on holiday

 

It is not all bad news though, as ecotourism has been successful in helping to restabilise ecosystems by minimising the effect of tourists on biodiversity.

 

The big bonus is that it’s sustainable, meaning it can replace resources as fast as it uses them!

 

Ecotourism involves reducing exploitation, and strives to make any future developments useful for local residents as well as tourists.

 

Now let's have a go at answering some questions on biodiversity!

Read the scenario below and then complete the table.

 

A field of buttercups

 

Sophie walks by a buttercup field where she sees lots of wildflowers.

She decides to pick all the poppies, daisies, and bluebells that she sees.

As she leaves, Sophie sees that the only flowers she hasn’t picked are the buttercups.

But as she goes back to pick some, she sees that in the distance there are some woodcutters felling trees, and so decides to leave to get to safety, before picking any more flowers.

 

Look at the statements and actions below and indicate if biodiversity is high or low.

Different species in the same ecosystem depend on each other for the same three essentials to survive.

 

Complete the sentence below.

Is the following statement true or false?

 

If biodiversity does not increase rapidly, more ecosystems will destabilise and the human race could be in danger of extinction.

Explain the process of global warming by matching up the statements below.

 

 

 

Column A

Column B

The burning of fossil fuels ...
... increases as less heat is lost into space
Carbon dioxide and methane ...
... trap heat energy from the Sun
Gases in the atmosphere ...
... releases more carbon dioxide
The temperature of the Earth ...
... has many consequences, such as flooding and me...
The rise in global temperatures ...
... build up in the atmosphere

In what ways does deforestation damage the planet?

It reduces habitats

There is more land for biofuels

Less carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere

More fossil fuels are burned

Landscapes are ruined, causing emigration to more attractive areas

Fill in the blanks below.

It reduces habitats

There is more land for biofuels

Less carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere

More fossil fuels are burned

Landscapes are ruined, causing emigration to more attractive areas

Which of the options below are challenges to tackling the problem of reduced biodiversity?

Unemployment

Human rights

Housing

Finance

Administrative issues

Complete the sentence below.

Unemployment

Human rights

Housing

Finance

Administrative issues

In ecotourism, locals are allowed a say in how their environment is affected by tourism.  

 

What are some of the benefits of doing this?

It reduces exploitation of the local people

The local people will be more likely to support the changes

The local people will continue to do what they've always done

What is biodiversity?

A variety of natural environments

Many different species living together as a community in the same physical environment

The number of species on the planet

The different characteristics of individuals in the same species

  • Question 1

Read the scenario below and then complete the table.

 

A field of buttercups

 

Sophie walks by a buttercup field where she sees lots of wildflowers.

She decides to pick all the poppies, daisies, and bluebells that she sees.

As she leaves, Sophie sees that the only flowers she hasn’t picked are the buttercups.

But as she goes back to pick some, she sees that in the distance there are some woodcutters felling trees, and so decides to leave to get to safety, before picking any more flowers.

 

Look at the statements and actions below and indicate if biodiversity is high or low.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This question is a good test of your time management skills and should make you aware of how long you naturally take when you're faced with bigger mark questions. So let's run through it: High biodiversity is maintained when there are many different types of species living together, not lots of members of only one species! That's why many different species together increase biodiversity, but Sophie leaving lots of flowers of the same species does not improve biodiversity - quite the reverse! Also, deforestation has a catastrophic effect on organisms and their habitats, leading to reduced biodiversity. Well done on this topic, and hopefully you now feel much more confident answering questions on biodiversity!
  • Question 2

Different species in the same ecosystem depend on each other for the same three essentials to survive.

 

Complete the sentence below.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on? The key here was remembering the mini-equation we discussed before! The equation shows that coexisting species in an ecosystem need each other for food and shelter, as well as for sustaining the shared natural environment. If these are all working well together, you have a stable ecosystem. One example would be to imagine predators needing prey for them to hunt for food in the food chain! You need to be comfortable explaining that if one species damages any of these key factors for survival, many negative effects would be felt across multiple species, including the risk of extinction.
  • Question 3

Is the following statement true or false?

 

If biodiversity does not increase rapidly, more ecosystems will destabilise and the human race could be in danger of extinction.

CORRECT ANSWER
true
EDDIE SAYS
This is a key concept so hopefully you understand why the statement is true! Human survival is at risk if the environmental damage to our planet is not repaired quickly, as the reduced biodiversity internationally has led to the Earth becoming unstable. We can all see and feel this through things like global warming and climate change.
  • Question 4

Explain the process of global warming by matching up the statements below.

 

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

The burning of fossil fuels ...
... releases more carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide and methane ...
... build up in the atmosphere
Gases in the atmosphere ...
... trap heat energy from the Sun
The temperature of the Earth ...
... increases as less heat is los...
The rise in global temperatures ....
... has many consequences, such a...
EDDIE SAYS
This question is bringing in a lot more detail, but you could get a four marker asking you to explain global warming and these kinds of statements are where the marks are! Global warming is one of the major ways that humans have dangerously damaged our planet to a potentially irreversible extent. The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, means the build up of more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This leads to hot air being trapped inside the atmosphere and causes the greenhouse effect. The consequences of this are felt worldwide, for example with the polar ice caps melting and changes in the seasons. You don't need much more detail than this, but this is definitely a question that would start getting you those top marks!
  • Question 5

In what ways does deforestation damage the planet?

CORRECT ANSWER
It reduces habitats
Less carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere
More fossil fuels are burned
EDDIE SAYS
I know it's starting to feel like a very negative topic, but it's important to know the issues in biodiversity so that we stay informed enough to tackle them! Deforestation reduces biodiversity and destabilises ecosystems on so many levels: Fewer trees means that less carbon dioxide can be absorbed from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Fewer forests also means that more wood has been collected to burn as a fossil fuel, increasing the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Fewer trees also means that many woodland creatures and plants will be displaced from their habitats and have to move, or they will die without food and shelter. Biofuels are a great alternative to fossil fuels, but clearing forests to make room for crop fields is a high price to pay - this makes it quite controversial. If there's something here you don't remember learning or haven't seen before, jot it down to help your understanding and your revision later on!
  • Question 6

Fill in the blanks below.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
There were a lot of blanks to fill in here - did you get them all? The reasons behind reduced biodiversity are important to remember, so refer back to the diagram in the Introduction if you're struggling to remember the answers needed here. But to recap: Improper waste management has led to sewage and fertilisers contaminating clean water resources, as well as toxic gases and smoke polluting the air. Humans have also caused land damage by creating landfills and not handling toxic chemicals thoughtfully. All of these factors are leading to reduced biodiversity globally.
  • Question 7

Which of the options below are challenges to tackling the problem of reduced biodiversity?

CORRECT ANSWER
Unemployment
Housing
Finance
EDDIE SAYS
So, this question is asking you to recall a lot more information but it's manageable if we just remember the revision equation we saw in the Introduction that summarised the barriers to improving the planet. There are multiple barriers stopping environmental issues from being fixed across the world. Firstly, some governments worry about the cost. Secondly, helping ecosystems, such as by reducing deforestation, can cause many locals to be left unemployed. Lastly, the human population is growing rapidly, and all these people need homes. This means that natural environments, with their own animals and plants, are destroyed in order to build houses.
  • Question 8

Complete the sentence below.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This should be a slightly easier one, but still a key learning point to take away. Ecotourism is a sustainable global attempt at reducing the impact of travelling on undisturbed worldwide environments. Sustainable means replacing resources as quickly as you use them, and as this helps to maintain materials, it makes this measure a long-term solution that can be continued easily, which is the opposite of fossil fuels. Many people choose to pay more for holidays that are run in a sustainable way, so that they do their bit to protect this precious planet.
  • Question 9

In ecotourism, locals are allowed a say in how their environment is affected by tourism.  

 

What are some of the benefits of doing this?

CORRECT ANSWER
It reduces exploitation of the local people
The local people will be more likely to support the changes
EDDIE SAYS
So here we're examining some of the pros of ecotourism. Ecotourism reduces the exploitation of local people by allowing them to be included in decisions about any new developments or changes for tourists in their communities. They are more likely to support these changes if they are involved in the discussions and therefore more likely to make sure that the new plans work.
  • Question 10

What is biodiversity?

CORRECT ANSWER
Many different species living together as a community in the same physical environment
EDDIE SAYS
Did you feel confident answering this question? The definition of biodiversity is one of the most important things to take out of this topic, so make sure you know it! Biodiversity is a range of different species coexisting together, using the resources in the same ecosystem, for example, the Earth! But remember that having many members of one species in an area is not an example of good biodiversity! It's not about the numbers of organisms, it's about how many different types there are!
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