Category Archives: Ecology & Conservation (Core and Options)

#SharkWeek Fail. Some Sharky Remedies*.

Over the last couple of years, Discovery’s #SharkWeek event has taken a beating for producing pseudoscience and spectacle over actual educational output that will help shark conservation. From CGI-lame Megalodon junk (they’re extinct already) to ‘Voodoo Sharks’, serious shark-science educators are getting annoyed. Sadly it seems that some of the scientists who appear in the “documentaries” have been duped into taking part, or misquoted: see this piece by David Schiffman (@WhySharksMatter). 

Fortunately, there is a lot of actually good content out there. This year, Emily Graslie (@ehmee, scientist, YouTuber and focus of perhaps one of Cosmo’s only proper articles ever), has created a series of five shark videos to entertain… and educate! 

*Remedies for bad science. Not remedies made of sharks. That would be is bad

John Oliver: Climate Change Sketch

This funny (but sweary) John Oliver sketch skewers the non-debate on climate change.

“The debate on climate change should not be whether or not it exists, but what we should do about it.” 

With 97% agreement from scientists on the human cause of climate change, are the media skewing the debate with 1:1 representation?

This is connected to the Greenhouse Effect topic resources. Don’t play it in class without listening first – there is some strong langauage.

The Great Barrier Reef: An Obituary

The Great Barrier Reef: An Obituary. This haunting multimedia Guardian piece could be a perfect provocation for a unit.

The Great Barrier Reef: An Obituary. This haunting multimedia Guardian piece could be a perfect provocation for a unit.

In the current age of environmental destruction it can be difficult to keep paying attention to the news. But some stories stand out as being real alarm bells, and this very sad piece on the iconic barrier reef highlights a lot of purely human-caused issues. To add to the misery, now the reef is under further threat from destructive dredging and dumping… to make way for shipping lanes for coal mining in Australia. #EpicFail.

MrT’s students: note the image above has a caption and links back to the original source, not to an image hosted on my WordPress. Make sure your writing does the same. 

Ending Overfishing Animation

This is a neat animation by The Black Fish (@theblackfishorg) on Ending Overfishing, highlighting issues of overfishing, bycatch, fish-farming and the tensions between science-recommended catches and econonmy-driven catch limits. It connects directly to the Population Ecology option topic.

 

Niches for Species: How Wolves Change Rivers

This video is an excerpt from George Monbiot’s recent TED Talk (posted here a while back), and really sets up the imagery of an ecosystem as it responds to change. A great clip, well suited to starting off the Ecology units.

Niches for Species: George Monbiot’s TED Talk on Rewilding.

This TED Talk from Guardian environment writer George Monbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) makes a compelling argument for rewilding: putting back what we have taken from nature, letting the ecosystems do what they will and allowing the megafauna to re-reshape the ecosystem.

“It offers us the hope that our silent spring can be replaced by a raucous summer.”

The connections across the curriculum here are clear, most notably to 5.1 Ecosystems and HL Option G4: Conservation of Biodiversity. Well worth 15 minutes and could be the stimulus for class discussion.

Classification Resources

Here’s an update presentation for 5.5 Classification, including more Creative Commons images and a dominoes game for practicing the plant and animal phyla.

More resources and links are on the main page.

“Changing Crops for a Changing Climate” Mark Lynas & a Nature Special on GMOs

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.

……….o0O0o………

Rise of the Superweeds. Click-through to the Nature Special.

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:

  • Identify
  • Describe the trend in…
  • Calculate the difference in…
  • Compare
  • Suggest reasons for…
  • Evaluate

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Marine Conservation Society

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.

Crash Course Ecology: 12 Videos with Hank Green

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.

Read the rest of this entry

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