[ANSWERED 2023] This activity can be completed in your backyard, in your office yard, a nearby park, an urban green space, or anywhere you can get a little bit of nature under your feet

Written By: Dan Palmer, RN

This activity can be completed in your backyard, in your office yard, a nearby park, an

This activity can be completed in your backyard, in your office yard, a nearby park, an urban green space, or anywhere you can get a little bit of nature under your feet

This activity can be completed in your backyard, in your office yard, a nearby park, an urban green space, or anywhere you can get a little bit of nature under your feet!

Now that you have learned about food webs and biodiversity, you will explore the environment “in your own backyard.” It may be easiest to print out this sheet and take it with you to complete the assignment. You can always record your answers on a separate piece of paper while outside and then bring them back to your computer to type in your responses afterward.

Scientists are trained to take very detailed notes when they head out into the field. This is because all of the information you can collect could be important to analyzing your data in the future. It is important to be descriptive and even use drawings if you need to make sure your data is as complete as possible.

Part I (4 points each = 28 points)

The first thing scientists record when out in the field is general data. You will practice this by filling in the information below.

Date: 

Location (City, State, Country):

Time of day:

Temperature outside (estimate if you don’t have a phone with capabilities or a thermometer around):

Weather (e.g., rainy, humid, dry, cloudy, sunny, overcast):

Number of people around:

Describe the space/habitat (Is it a prairie? Does it have tall grasses, are there a lot of trees, or is it near water or a city?):

Part II (20 points)

Now, let’s do some exploring and observing. Sit down on the soil, and take a closer look. Do you see small insects? Do you notice different types of grasses, weeds, and small flowers?

Take a few minutes to identify everything you can in the area. (Set a maximum time to about 15 minutes). Record what you find in the table below, and remember to be as descriptive as possible.

In the section “Label of what you found,” identify as best you can what it is you are looking at. Is it a plant (grass, weed, tree, flower), reptile, amphibian, insect, arachnid (spider), mammal, or bird? Do you know what species it is? You can use resources to help you identify what you find. If you are in the United States, download the iNaturalist app, and you can use field guides on the app to help identify what you see.

If you are at a park, at the visitor center, there may be field guide pamphlets or online pamphlets to help with identifications. You can also try finding field guides for your area online. (Type the following terms into Google: “field guide to plants, butterflies, or whatever you’re looking at in [insert the place you are]”). Be as specific as possible.

In the description column, describe what it is. How tall is it? What distinguishing features does it have? Does it have a scent? Does it have a color?

In the last column, count how many of that species you see in the area.

You are filling in the table with what you find. Your grade is based on the quality of filling in the details of the table (label, description, and how many found). You will need to include at least five species.

Label of what you found Description How many found

Part III (2 points each = 16 points)

You will now build two food chains using what you found. You may not find all parts of the food chain as seeing top trophic levels are more rare than seeing primary producers. In that case, think about what would live in this habitat, look for signs of these animals (e.g., tracks, burrows, nests), and fill in the chart with what you think would be there.

Primary ProducerPrimary ConsumerSecondary ConsumerTertiary Consumer
Exampleoak treeinchwormfield mousehawk
1
2

Questions (36 pts)

1. In this unit, we looked at threats to biodiversity. Describe what is affecting the biodiversity in the area you are in? What natural or man-made disturbances have happened in the area? How could the biodiversity increase in the area? Your response should

Expert Answer and Explanation

Part I (4 points each = 28 points)

The first thing scientists record when out in the field is general data. You will practice this by filling in the information below.

Date: 01/15/2022

Location (City, State, Country): Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A

Time of day: 10:30 AM

Temperature outside (estimate if you don’t have a phone with capabilities or a thermometer around): 9°C

Weather (e.g., rainy, humid, dry, cloudy, sunny, overcast): Cloudy

Number of people around: 16

Describe the space/habitat (Is it a prairie? Does it have tall grasses, are there a lot of trees, or is it near water or a city?): My front yard comprises of long grass and 3 Crete tree. My neighbor and I are separated by 5 red oak trees. There are also other types of tree around such as Spanish moss. I am seeing different types of birds flying around.

Part II (20 points)

Now, let’s do some exploring and observing. Sit down on the soil, and take a closer look. Do you see small insects? Do you notice different types of grasses, weeds, and small flowers?

Take a few minutes to identify everything you can in the area. (Set a maximum time to about 15 minutes). Record what you find in the table below, and remember to be as descriptive as possible.

In the section “Label of what you found,” identify as best you can what it is you are looking at. Is it a plant (grass, weed, tree, flower), reptile, amphibian, insect, arachnid (spider), mammal, or bird? Do you know what species it is? You can use resources to help you identify what you find. If you are in the United States, download the iNaturalist app, and you can use field guides on the app to help identify what you see.

If you are at a park, at the visitor center, there may be field guide pamphlets or online pamphlets to help with identifications. You can also try finding field guides for your area online. (Type the following terms into Google: “field guide to plants, butterflies, or whatever you’re looking at in [insert the place you are]”).Be as specific as possible.

In the description column, describe what it is. How tall is it? What distinguishing features does it have? Does it have a scent? Does it have a color?

In the last column, count how many of that species you see in the area.

You are filling in the table with what you find. Your grade is based on the quality of filling in the details of the table (label, description, and how many found). You will need to include at least five species.

Label of what you found Description How many found
Bermuda grass· Fine medium leaf texture with dense, dark green and lowing growing kind of turf through the stolon and rhizome.

· Its height is approximately 2 inches

1 type
Couch grass· Hairy, flat leaves with upright flower spikes.

· Its stem is approximately 70 cm tall

· Linear leaves which are 20 cm long

· The base of the grass is around 8 mm wide.

· Most leaves are on the higher side of the stem

· The stem is 6 mm wide

· Flower spikes measures 15 cm long with spikelets measuring 2 mm thick and 6 mm broad.

1 type
Red-headed woodpeckers·    Small to medium-sized red-headed birds

·    Medium to big chisel-like bills

·    Completely black back with white patches on their wings.

·    White belly

16
Anhinga· Measures around 35 inches in length with a wingspan of around 3.5 feet

· The tip of its tail has white feathers with grayish elongated feathers at the neck and back of the head.

· The back has white spots

12
Black Walnut·    Compound leaves arranged alternately on the stem

·    Grayish-black bark and deeply furrowed to thin ridges which gives it a diamond-like shape

·    Trunk measures approximately 100 feet

·    Leaves have a pungent odor

·    Pale silky buds covered with downy hairs

4

This activity can be completed in your backyard, in your office yard, a nearby park, an urban green space, or anywhere you can get a little bit of nature under your feet!

Part III (2 points each = 16 points)

You will now build two food chains using what you found. You may not find all parts of the food chain as seeing top trophic levels are more rare than seeing primary producers. In that case, think about what would live in this habitat, look for signs of these animals (e.g., tracks, burrows, nests), and fill in the chart with what you think would be there.

Primary ProducerPrimary ConsumerSecondary ConsumerTertiary Consumer
Exampleoak treeinchwormfield mousehawk
1Black WalnutCricketEastern American toadRaccoon
2Couch grassImpalaCheetahHuman beings

Questions (36 pts)

  1. In this unit, we looked at threats to biodiversity. Describe what is affecting the biodiversity in the area you are in? What natural or man-made disturbances have happened in the area? How could the biodiversity increase in the area? Your response should be at least 200 words in length.

Chandler, Arizona is an urban settlement located in an arid area. The main threat to biodiversity of the firms is the aridity of the region which makes the region to be hostile to both plants and animals. Very few animals and plants have the ability to survive in the arid area of Arizona. The other disturbance in the region is the interference of the natural habitat with human interaction. Human beings cause disturbance at all times when they visit the park and interact with the animals and trees.

The interruptions interfere with the nature in which animals interact in the field. Hunting and fishing can also interfere with the biodiversity of the park creating challenges for the animals and wild life. Constant foot traffic on the grass and the foot paths can also interfere with the rate of growth of the plants. the grass can be interfered with the constant weight from the foot traffic and the trees with the constant pruning and cutting to meet a certain shape.

However, the biodiversity of the areas can increase through human intervention such as planting more trees and grass, and seeding new fish and animals in the park. The intervention can help create desired outcome within the park

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Biodiversity:

Definition: Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, refers to the variety of life on Earth at all levels, including the diversity of species, ecosystems, and genetic variations within species.

Threats to Biodiversity:

1. Habitat Loss and Fragmentation:

  • Description: Destruction and fragmentation of natural habitats due to activities like deforestation, urbanization, and agricultural expansion.
  • Impact: Displacement of species, loss of biodiversity hotspots, and disruption of ecological balance.

2. Climate Change:

  • Description: Global changes in climate patterns, often attributed to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Impact: Altered temperature and precipitation patterns, leading to habitat shifts, loss of suitable environments, and changes in species distribution.

3. Pollution:

  • Description: Introduction of harmful substances into the environment, including air, water, and soil pollution.
  • Impact: Toxic substances negatively affect the health of species, disrupt ecosystems, and contaminate food chains.

4. Overexploitation of Resources:

  • Description: Excessive harvesting of species for human consumption, trade, or other purposes.
  • Impact: Depletion of populations, loss of biodiversity, and disruption of ecosystems, particularly in the case of overfishing and hunting.

5. Invasive Species:

  • Description: Introduction of non-native species into ecosystems, often due to human activities.
  • Impact: Invasive species can outcompete or prey on native species, leading to population declines and changes in ecosystem dynamics.

6. Loss of Genetic Diversity:

  • Description: Reduction in the variety of genes within a population, often due to selective breeding or monoculture practices.
  • Impact: Decreased adaptability to environmental changes, increased vulnerability to diseases, and reduced resilience.

How Humans Affect Biodiversity Negatively:

  1. Deforestation:
    • Impact: Destruction of habitats, loss of biodiversity, and disruption of ecosystems.
  2. Pollution:
    • Impact: Contamination of air, water, and soil, harming plant and animal life, and disrupting ecosystems.
  3. Overharvesting:
    • Impact: Depletion of populations, particularly in fisheries and forestry, leading to declines in biodiversity.
  4. Climate Change Contributions:
    • Impact: Increased greenhouse gas emissions leading to altered climates, impacting ecosystems and biodiversity.
  5. Introduction of Invasive Species:
    • Impact: Disruption of native ecosystems and outcompetition of local species by invasive ones.

Conduct a cultural self-assessment. In order to understand culture and cultural diversity, it is important that you understand your own culture and heritage

Five Common Human Activities that can Harm Biodiversity:

  1. Urbanization:
    • Impact: Conversion of natural habitats into urban areas, leading to habitat loss and fragmentation.
  2. Industrialization:
    • Impact: Release of pollutants, habitat destruction, and resource exploitation.
  3. Agricultural Practices:
    • Impact: Deforestation, use of pesticides, and monoculture practices leading to habitat degradation.
  4. Infrastructure Development:
    • Impact: Construction of roads, dams, and other infrastructure can result in habitat loss and fragmentation.
  5. Land Use Change:
    • Impact: Alterations in land use for agriculture, logging, or other purposes can negatively impact biodiversity.

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