Ecology

Backyard Bioblitz

Help students learn about a local ecosystem by creating a backyard bioblitz. Your class will work together to document the biodiversity of plants, animals, and other organisms within an area, so they can understand the importance of protecting it.

1

Identify an ecosystem.

To choose the perfect location for a bioblitz, its important to understand the web of organisms that exist within an ecosystem. Read Chapter 37, Section 3 of E. O. Wilson's Life on Earth to see how various species interact with each other and with their habitats. Then identify your own local ecosystem to explore. This could be an entire town, a garden or even a single bush. Before taking on a large ecosystem, start small by studying an area no larger than a Hula-Hoop. You’ll be surprised at how many species you find.

Life on Earth, Unit 7

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2

Team up.

Watch the National Geographic video Neighborhood Bioblitz to see how teams of citizen scientists work together to identify more than 1,300 species in the mountains outside Los Angeles, California. Then prepare your bioblitz by dividing teachers, students and even families into groups of two or three, and assign each team a different area of the ecosystem to document.

bioblitz event
volunteers participated
species found
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3

Explore and document.

Before starting the bioblitz, assign individual tasks to each team member — to photograph, catalog, analyze, and document findings — then set a time limit for exploration. Remember to have students switch roles periodically. Use a magnifying glass for the same amount of time you explore with the naked eye. Take photos of each specimen — plants, animals, and other organisms — and create fun collages of your findings using Moldiv.

“Biodiversity is the totality of all inherited variation in the life forms of Earth, of which we are one species. We study and save it to our great benefit. We ignore and degrade it to our great peril.”

- E. O. Wilson