Chapter Reflection Questions & Explorations

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Reflection Questions

  1. What two evolutionary processes are responsible for development of biodiversity on Earth? How do these processes work to promote emergence of new species? How long does it take for a new species to evolve?

  2. How has the number of species changed over the past 550 million years? During what time periods have the five major extinction events taken place on the evolutionary timeline?

  3. Name four categories of terrestrial biomes, and describe each biome’s defining characteristics.

  4. What are the four categories of ecosystem services? Describe three specific services provided by the ecosystem in which you live or one nearby your community.

  5. What moral principles are necessary to consider when addressing Earth’s declining biodiversity?

  6. What ethical questions surface when the protection of property rights conflicts with the protection of Earth’s biodiversity?

  7. What is the relationship between biodiversity and sacred space?

  8. In the Jewish and Christian religious traditions, what does biodiversity suggest about the characteristics of God?

Explorations

  1. Research some of the keystone species in the ecosystems in your region. On a large piece of paper, create a food web that relies on one of these keystone species trying to include at least ten additional species in your web. What happens to this food web when the keystone species is removed or goes extinct?

  2. In small groups, choose an invasive species that has affected a nearby ecosystem. Develop a presentation for your peers on how this species became established in a new location, how it impacts the native flora and fauna, and what approaches are being used to confront the invasive species.

  3. Select two marine eco-regions or two freshwater ecosystems, and explore the biodiversity found in each habitat. Create a poster comparing and contrasting species in each ecosystem, the abiotic conditions (temperature, nutrient and oxygen levels, water depth and flow rate) and precipitation patterns, and the particular ecosystem services provided by each habitat.

  4. According to National Geographic, scientists have categorized nearly 2 million distinct species that live on our planet. Test your knowledge of biodiversity by looking at a small sample of the many species of fungi, plants, birds, mammals, bacteria, and other organisms relying on a delicate balance of Earth’s ecosystems for survival.

  5. For centuries, Indigenous People throughout the world have been working to maintain balance and harmony with the biodiversity that surrounds them. Research one of these Indigenous cultures and how their spirituality relates to biodiversity in their regions, and then have a dialogue with your peers about the challenges and successes that these Indigenous Peoples have had in conserving biodiversity.