Seven light blue hexagons on a dark blue gradient background. The hexagons each contain a picture and text that correspond to one of the seven pathways in the Biodiversity Course cluster. From left to right, the hexagons contain: a frog on top of half of the globe alongside the text "Why Is Biodiversity Important?"; a magnifying glass peering at the Earth alongside "Where Is Biodiversity Found?"; a leaf in a test tube alongside "how Is Biodiversity Studied?"; a factory with clouds billowing out alongside "Why Is Biodiversity Threatened?"; a tree within a shield alongside "How Can Biodiversity Be Protected?"; a branch of a tree with leaves alongside "Where Does Biodiversity Come From?"; and a rat, earthworm, bacterium, and leaves alongside "What Are the Different Levels of Biodiversity?"

New Biodiversity Cluster from the California Academy of Sciences

Join us on a virtual expedition to investigate and understand biodiversity in the new Biodiversity Course cluster!

Created in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences, this content cluster is an exploration of the diversity of life and covers topics ranging from the importance of biodiversity to the threats facing ecosystems and what we can do to preserve them.

The cluster is made up of seven learning pathways and contains over 30 learning and teaching resources, including case studies, videos, and question sets. Each pathway contains two case studies and corresponding question sets to foster deeper understanding of the topic and critical thinking.

Discover more about the learning pathways that make up the Biodiversity Course cluster:

1. Why Is Biodiversity Important?

Biodiversity is critical to sustaining ecosystems that provide essential services to human populations. Biodiversity ensures resilience and adaptability to environmental changes, making ecosystems more robust and capable of withstanding challenges. This pathway covers ecosystem function and services, species richness, and ecological resilience, with questions to test your understanding of species interactions and ecosystem dynamics.

2. Where is Biodiversity Found?

Where does biodiversity bloom? Find out as you journey through Earth's biodiversity hotspots with this pathway. Featuring case studies from California to Sao Tomé, it explains unique ecosystems, endemic species, and conservation challenges. Explore species origins, adaptations, and human impacts on biodiversity, and engage with interactive assessments to deepen your understanding of life's intricate distribution patterns.

3. How Is Biodiversity Studied?

Embark on a journey through time and explore how researchers have documented the natural world. Discover how scientists recorded information about plants and animals. Dive into multidisciplinary field expeditions, exploring the necessary equipment and logistical support scientists require in field research to study biodiversity. Explore the impact of technology and citizen science on the future of biodiversity research with questions testing your understanding of binomial nomenclature, taxonomy, and genetic sequencing, highlighting the relevance of these concepts in biodiversity research.

4. Why Is Biodiversity Threatened?

Human population growth and resource utilization contribute to biodiversity loss through land-use changes, pollution, and resource exploitation. Balancing human needs with ecosystem health is crucial for a sustainable future and preserving species richness. Explore urgent threats to our planet's ecosystem, including global warming fueled by rising greenhouse gases, with assessments to evaluate your understanding of human impact on the ecosystem.

5. How Can Biodiversity Be Protected?

Explore the critical role of conservation in protecting Earth's diverse life forms through legislation, global agreements, and habitat preservation. Navigate the IUCN Red List to gain insights into the conservation status of threatened species. Discover the link between economic pressures, legislation, and biodiversity protection, and learn essential strategies for preserving Earth's biodiversity. This pathway offers a deep dive into environmental science, featuring engaging activities, assessments, and tutorials on safeguarding biodiversity.

6. Where Does Biodiversity Come From?

The process of natural selection, shaped by genetic variations, has led to the incredible biodiversity we witness today, showcasing the adaptability and resilience of life on Earth. Assess your knowledge of gene flow, evolutionary processes, and DNA mutations, gaining insights into species responses to evolutionary pressures. Delve into the complexities of biodiversity, including species dispersal, historical extinctions, and the current crisis driven by human activities.

7. What Are the Different Levels of Biodiversity?

Explore biodiversity at genetic, ecosystem, and evolutionary levels. Delve into the critical interplay between genetic diversity and ecosystems, examining their profound impact on conservation and the sustainability of life. Investigate the interconnectedness of all living organisms through the Tree of Life, gaining insights into how biodiversity shapes the web of life. Engage with questions on evolutionary relationships and genetic variation among species. Discover risks like shallow gene pools, human activities, and coral reefs impacting species' ability to thrive.

Find more learning resources from the California Academy of Sciences here!

Written by
Chris Burnett
Digital Content Specialist

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