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Analyse the Human Impact on Local and Global Biodiversity

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

'Analyse the Human Impact on Local and Global Biodiversity' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   Biology: Single Subject, Biology: Combined Science

GCSE Boards:   OCR 21st Century

Curriculum topic:   Life on Earth: Past, Present and Future

Curriculum subtopic:   How is Biodiversity Threatened and How Can We Protect It?

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Every ecosystem around the world is bursting with life.

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

 

This is called biodiversity: when many different species live together in an ecosystem.

 

Planet Earth

 

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

 

As coexisting creatures and plants rely on each other, having a large variety of species is essential.

 

FOOD + SHELTER +  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 enough to provide for us!

 

So let’s put all these pieces together:

 

Flowchart for biodiversity

 

The smallest change to one creature can affect all the other creatures around them, like in a food chain, so preserving nature should be a key responsibility for humans, especially as a lot of damage is our fault.

 

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

 

Human impact on the environment

 

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.

 

The rising human population and higher standards of living, mean more waste, creating toxic pollution that reduces biodiversity, leaving the remaining species with less food and fewer resources to choose from.

 

Sewage and fertilisers have polluted our water, toxic gases and smoke are causing air pollution, and landfills are damaging land, along with toxic chemicals - basically, humans are messy!

 

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, and the hotter the planet gets, the more biodiversity suffers.

 

Ultimately, if habitat destruction, environmental changes and the introduction of more foreign species continues, extinction is a very real possibility!

 

Pollution from rubbish

 

We are getting better at helping the planet, but tackling reduced biodiversity locally and globally is a challenge. 

 

The financial burden of new programs and the risk of mass unemployment by terminating eco-unfriendly jobs, are putting a huge strain on productive change. 

Also, as the population increases, more housing is needed, but the cost of development means more natural habitats have to be destroyed for our sake. So remember:

 

COSTS of initiatives + UNEMPLOYMENT + DEVELOPMENTS = BARRIERS TO CHANGE

 

Ecology

 

But despite the controversy, some measures are seeing great success.

 

Ecotourism aims to minimise the impact of humans on natural habitats as a sustainable concept, making sure that any new building work benefits the locals, as well as tourists.

It also makes sure that local communities have a say in how their environment and their way of life might be impacted by tourism, to minimise exploitation.

 

So let's hope that humans continue to enforce more positive and sustainable ways to conserve biodiversity!

 

Now it's time for some questions!

Decide if the examples below demonstrate high or low biodiversity.

Fill in the blanks below with one-word answers.

How much do different species in the same ecosystem rely on each other for survival?

In which ways do humans damage ecosystems?

Farming

Waste management

Deforestation

Travelling

Global warming

Damage to the land, water and air by poor waste management all cause what?

What types of pollution do these examples of poor waste management cause?

How important to humans is biodiversity?

What are some of the challenges to tackling the problem of reduced biodiversity? 

Funding

Employment

Administration

Human rights

Developments

Is the following statement true or false?

 

Ecotourism aims to reduce tourism to save natural environments.

The image below is an example of an ecosystem where different species are living together in the same environment.

 

A food web

 

A change to one species can have a ripple effect across the whole ecosystem, but some changes are more devastating than others. 

 

In the table below, select which animals would be affected negatively if the indicated species were removed from this ecosystem. 

  • Question 1

Decide if the examples below demonstrate high or low biodiversity.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you remember what biodiversity means? Straight away, higher mark questions will make you apply your knowledge rather than simply asking you for the definition, but that's the real motive here! Remember, biodiversity is a range of different species coexisting together and sharing resources in the same habitat, for example, the Earth. Many members of the same species may show great variety, such as at a dog show, but that is not the same as having many different species together. Don't forget that different species of plants can create high biodiversity too, which you might well see at a garden centre.
  • Question 2

Fill in the blanks below with one-word answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This concept is crucial to understand which is why there was only one acceptable answer for each of the blanks! The greater the range of species interacting with each other in a shared physical environment (that is a high biodiversity), the more food sources and places of shelter will be available to sustain different creatures for longer. This will make for a more stable ecosystem.
  • Question 3

How much do different species in the same ecosystem rely on each other for survival?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The questions are getting harder, aren't they? Coexisting species in an ecosystem rely on each other for food and shelter, as well as for sustaining the shared natural environment they live in. Mates and protection are things that members of the samespecies offer each other, but outside their own population, creatures hunt each other - so they are not dependent on each other for these. With shelter, don't forget that plants are also included as species in an ecosystem! On the issue of plants, did you correctly choose oxygen? Although animals freely take in oxygen and are not dependent on each other for its availability, plants and animals rely on each other for the gases they both need for survival. Plants produce the oxygen that animals need to breathe and, in turn, animals produce the carbon dioxide that plants need for photosynthesis. So, this is also an example of different species being dependent on each other!
  • Question 4

In which ways do humans damage ecosystems?

CORRECT ANSWER
Farming
Waste management
Deforestation
Travelling
Global warming
EDDIE SAYS
This was a trick question because, yes, you've guessed it, they were all correct! Humans make a huge impact on ecosystems simply by living there! Virtually everything that we do causes some form of damage to the ecosystems we live in. Over hundreds of years, humans have used the Earth for their own benefit and, consequently, the environment is now globally damaged, needing urgent repair. Humans have created some of the most widespread problems, including deforestation, poor waste management and global warming. So, surely, it's up to us to try to solve the problems too?
  • Question 5

Damage to the land, water and air by poor waste management all cause what?

CORRECT ANSWER
pollution
EDDIE SAYS
How do you feel about answering more specific questions on waste management? If you're still a little unsure, have another look at the summary diagram and notes in the Introduction. All that was needed here was that one little word pollution - did you get it?! Human contamination largely involves air pollution, water pollution and land damage. Improper waste management can damage many naturally clean sources of nutrition and shelter, reducing biodiversity, as fewer species are able to survive under worsened conditions.
  • Question 6

What types of pollution do these examples of poor waste management cause?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Getting super detailed now but at this level, you need to know the consequence of poor waste management and some examples of specific damaging actions! Improper disposal of waste materials is one of the most harmful human actions against biodiversity. Key examples are creating landfill sites, and unsafely dumping toxic chemicals that will leak into the ground and damage the environment. Water pollution includes fertiliser and sewage leakage into clean water sources that many species rely on. Air pollution is partly due to toxic gases and smoke contaminating clean air supplies.
  • Question 7

How important to humans is biodiversity?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Extinction is real! And humans aren't immune from this possibility! The Earth is one large ecosystem, and humans have a huge responsibility to preserve nature and to reduce the damage our presence has caused. While communities are becoming more proactive, with initiatives and by spreading awareness, if global changes are not implemented soon, humans may also face extinction. This emphasises just how important maintaining high biodiversity truly is.
  • Question 8

What are some of the challenges to tackling the problem of reduced biodiversity? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Funding
Employment
Developments
EDDIE SAYS
There are multiple barriers stopping environmental issues from being tackled efficiently and on a global scale. Firstly, the cost of policies is a large factor preventing governments from tackling their environmental responsibilities. Also, in an attempt to help ecosystems, many locals could be left unemployed, damaging the local economy. Finally, the human population is growing rapidly, and all these people need homes. In order to develop and build new housing, natural environments, such as forests with their own native species, are being destroyed. Whose existence matters more - the humans who do much to destroy, but could potentially repair, the Earth, or the displaced animals with reduced resources, whose homes are being taken away?
  • Question 9

Is the following statement true or false?

 

Ecotourism aims to reduce tourism to save natural environments.

CORRECT ANSWER
False
EDDIE SAYS
Well done if you got this one right. Ecotourism is a sustainable global attempt at reducing the impact of commercial and leisure travel on undisturbed or preserved ecosystems. It does this by making sure that locals have a say in how their environments are changed in order to accommodate tourism. This gives them a voice, minimising exploitation, and ensuring that any changes for tourists, such as building developments, can benefit the natives too.
  • Question 10

The image below is an example of an ecosystem where different species are living together in the same environment.

 

A food web

 

A change to one species can have a ripple effect across the whole ecosystem, but some changes are more devastating than others. 

 

In the table below, select which animals would be affected negatively if the indicated species were removed from this ecosystem. 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you feel confident with this last question after all this practice? Change to one species can affect others, showing how important it is to have many varieties of species to keep resources open for promoting survival in an ecosystem. Let's take it a step at a time! If the grass were removed, then all the animals would be affected because they all consume grass either directly (the rabbit, the mouse and the grasshopper) or indirectly, by eating one of the grass eaters. If the grasshopper were removed, then the snake would be affected because it eats grasshoppers, but also the two animals above the snake in the food chain (the bird and the fox) - so three animals. If the snake were removed, then only the two animals above it in the food chain would be affected because they consume the snake either directly (the bird), or indirectly (the fox) - so two animals. Lastly, if the fox were removed, no animals would be affected negatively because it is the top predator. Good job on this topic, and if you feel like you could have done better, take a break and try this activity again another time and you'll see that you've remembered more than you think!
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