Category Archives: Ecology & Conservation (Core and Options)
Here is Mark Lynas at Cornell University, with his speech “Time to call out the anti-GMO conspiracy theory.” It runs almost half an hour, though he does have a transcript of the speech on his blog. The connections to IB Biology Genetics & Genetic Engineering here are obvious.
What should be noted for background is Lynas’ own story. In the 1990′s he was a prominent anti-GMO activist, but has recently apologised and is now on a mission to right the wrongs he feels he has done. It has not been easy, and has generated lots of controversy.
“Allowing anti-GMO activists to dictate policymaking on biotechnology is like putting homeopaths in charge of the health service, or asking anti-vaccine campaigners to take the lead in eradicating polio.”
Powerful and provocative stuff – and a great stimulus for discussion and debate. Lynas refers to a lot of studies, claims and organisations in this speech. Students could follow this up with finding out more about each of them.
We might never be able to get students to the absolute truth on GMOs – we may find it difficult ourselves – but it is useful to give some insight into just how delicate the balancing act can be and how cloudy the discussions of ethics in science can get. The issues around GMOs are complex: scientific, political, ethical, economical, environmental. They are far more complex than a couple of short assessment statements in a Biology syllabus can really do justice.
Also recently, a very useful Nature special edition on GM Crops: the Promise & Reality. Look in for some in-depth articles and case-studies, including the true, the false and the still unknown on GM crops.
Nature articles often have presentations of data that can be used for data-based question practice (such as the one to the right – click through to see). Follow the patterns of the DBQ’s and make up your own questions based on different articles:
- Describe the trend in…
- Calculate the difference in…
- Suggest reasons for…
As a Marine Biologist by training, salty water and the things that live in it are close to my heart, which is why I’m happy to be supporting the Marine Conservation Society with their fundraising through my Biology4good project. They do great work on education, outreach, beach cleanups and campaigns. A current (har-har) area of focus is marine conservation zones, which connects neatly to Option G4: Conservation of Biodiversity.
If you like the resources here and like the work they do, please make a donation on my JustGiving page.
I’ve featured Hank Green’s Crash Course Biology here a number of times and many of his videos have been embedded into the topic pages for the IB Biology course around this site. Prolific as he is, his ‘Crash Course Ecology’ series has just finished, so here are 12 episodes that pull together elements of the the Core and Option topics (as well as a lot more).
The full playlist is here: Crash Course Ecology. It’ll take about as long as Avatar to get through it all, and you’ll learn more about environmental change, impacts and solutions.
Episode 1: The History of Life on Earth
The rest of the episodes are linked after the jump.
Thanks to Celia, our librarian (@CeliaSchatzky) for sending me this!
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (@CornellBirds) and National Geographic have been working on this documentary on the Birds of Paradise. A great connection to E6 Further Studies of Behaviour and the importance of protecting habitats.
Check it out (and then spend the rest of your day on their YouTube channel)
While we’re at it, here are the Lyre birds again, from BBC Worldwide.
Stephen Ritz gives a hugely energetic TEDx talk about his class project with at-risk kids in New York’s Bronx, which went quickly from green walls to something much bigger. It really is amazing. See if you can keep up!
These are for the Grade 10 Environmental Science students. More are on the topic page, here.
I saw this on Twitter from the QI Elves. They also posted this great clip of an eagle owl. Follow them!
Here’s a nice 6-minute clip, using high-quality videos of zooplankton and phytoplankton to give an overview of the microscopic world in the ocean.
“A teaspoon of seawater can contain a million living organisms.“
A nice link to food chains and webs, as well as classification.
This task is based on Chris Packham’s comments on Panda conservation and is intended to give students an insight into conservation issues and use of the IUCN Red List database. Here is a quick news clip with him defending his comments, and the activity is embedded below.
By the end of this session, students should be able to:
- Distinguish between keystone and flagship species, with examples of each
- Access and use the IUCN Red List database
- Appreciate that threats to one species often threaten other species in the same area
- Discuss the benefits of whole-ecosystem conservation
Once this is complete, watch one of these TED Talks on active conservation management techniques and their successes. Conservation really is inspiration!
Dan Barber: How I fell in love with a fish
John Kasaona: How rhino poachers became caretakers
Willie Smits: How we regrew a rainforest
In tomorrow’s class we’ll be reviewing our Making ATP unit (enzymes, cell respiration, photosynthesis and the greenhouse effect) with a couple of concept mapping activities. The first, cell respiration core, is made using the really useful free concept mapping tool from IHMC CMap tools. This is a freeware package for most computing platforms – very easy to use and might be a help in your revision!
In the second activity, build your own concept map making as many annotated connections between concepts as you can. Surrounding this, add and annotate the relevant graphs and diagrams.