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Top Ten New Species of 2011

(Some fruiting bodies of Mycena luxaeterna growing on a rotten branch. © Cassius V. Stevani/IQ-USP, Brazil)

(Some fruiting bodies of Mycena luxaeterna growing on a rotten branch. © Cassius V. Stevani/IQ-USP, Brazil) Embedded from:

This bioluminescent mushroom is just one of the top ten new species discovered in 2010 and shortlisted by the Arizona State University International Institute for Species Exploration. The list also includes a bacterium which was discovered feeding on the iron oxide of the hull of the Titanic. Visit their site to find out more about taxonomy and species discovery in action, as well as how their nominated ‘new species’ made the top ten.

Remember however, that event though new species are discovered all the time (15,000 a year!), we are in the midst of a global extinction crisis. What use is discovery without the will to take affirmative action to protect our planet’s biodiversity?

Perhaps you too could follow a career in biological exploration!

Earth Day 2011: International Year of Forests

The theme for our Earth Day celebrations this year is “International Year of the Forests.” To celebrate, we’re having a day of student-led activities and workshops, a vegetarian international lunch and an afternoon assembly on the 29th April.

This video was produced by the Good Planet Foundation and is the official film of the International Year of Forests. Most of the HPD classes have seen it, and here it is if you want to watch again:


– why not watch the movie yourself in short bursts and spend a few minutes looking up the concepts mentioned in the narration?

– Use Embed Plus to annotate the video with keywords and links to internet resources on the concepts discussed.

Ever the issues in Indonesia, forestry management, biodiversity protection and sustainability should be on our minds all year round, not just on one day. How can we take real action in the school? At the very least we should reduce our reliance on an unsustainable source of paper. Think before you print!

Let’s hope the activities we take part in lead to continued and mindful actions!

Conservation Inspiration

The world doesn’t have to be in the mess it is in.

This week, the HL students will be working on G4 (Conservation of Biodversity) and G5 (Population Ecology). The videos below link to these topics, but the issues are of such current global importance right now, I encourage all students to watch them.

We all know that we need to make changes and take action, but the seeming hopelessness of the situation is a barrier to many.What possible difference could some individuals make?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

In this TED Talk, John Kasaona describes how activation of some the biggest stakeholders on the land in Namibia – the poachers – turned a huge problem into an effective in-situ conservation effort that acts as a role model for active management to the rest of the world. Inspiring and true, this is well worth 18minutes of your time:

In this TED Talk, Willie Smits tells the inspiring story of their project to revive some devastated Borneo rainforest made great use of local people in active management and has provided a habitat for the orang-utans to return. You can also read about it here.

Dan Barber: How I Fell In Love With A Fish (sustainable fisheries). Watching this, think about the following questions:

  • In what ways is this an example of active management in conservation?
  • What are the measures of ecological health being used here?

And if you’re up for some doom and gloom, swim on over to the population ecology page, where there are clips about how we wrecked the oceans, including some clips from the EndOftheLine. Head on over to their official webpage (with video excerpts). They have a very useful what-you-can-eat widget on their website, which can also be used in pdf format.


BIS students – the TED talks are saved on the network, so you can put them on your iPods or laptops and watch them when you’re stuck in traffic on the way home.

Ctrl-A Del: Sorting out the flowers

Interesting news today from the Guardian: “Scientists prune list of world’s plants“.  600,000 species of flowering plants have been deleted from the records in an impressive piece of international cooperation.

And no, that’s not because 600,000 have gone extinct (although so many are rapidly disappearing)- it’s because so many were duplicates with different names. By sorting out the list, botanists hope to make it easier for ecologists to keep track of genuinely newly discovered species, as well as more effectively monitor species over time.

This is a nice link to the Classification unit, and highlights the importance of international cooperation in the sciences. It was part of an effort for the Convention of Biological Diversity, which meet this October in Japan. It also links to the Ecology and Conservation option.

Here is a short interview with Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, discussing why all of the member countries have failed to reach their targets, and why it is important to engage all stakeholders in the process of conservation:

Oceans: Disney’s Earth Day Super-doc

Following last year’s Earth, Disney are releasing Oceans on Earth Day. Loaded with symbolism and lovely shots, though unlikely to be as informative as the brilliant Blue Planet series, it might just inspire more people to take care of the oceans and be aware of their importance to us. I hope it hits the big screens here in Indonesia!

Here’s an idea Disney – if you’re serious about sending the message, why not give the tickets away to schools for free?

The Greenhouse Effect

Here is the class presentation – shadowed images are links. I’ve included the slides from G3 on the ozone layer. Make sure you understand that the greenhouse effect itself is a natural phenomenon, enhanced by human activity. Be sure also to distinguish between the greenhouse gases in the troposphere and ozone layer – they are in different positions, with different functions.

Essential Biology 5.2 and G3: The Greenhouse Effect and Impacts of Humans on Ecosystems.

Click4Biology:The Greenhouse Effect

More decent resources from Cutting Edge

Use these CO2 data to plot trends and annual cycles with a spreadhseet.

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Impacts of Humans on Ecosystems

For Option G: Ecology and Conservation. Because we’re learning this concurrently with the Ecology and Evolution core topic, the Essential Biology document has been rolled into one: Essential Biology 5.2 & G3 – Greenhouse Effect and Impacts of Humans on Ecosystems.

The presentation on The Greenhouse Effect will follow soon.

The Habitable Planet

This is a great collection of multimedia Science resources, including lectures, notes, videos and interactives.

Get on and have a go!

It is produced by, a huge and excellent resource for all Science topics (and other subjects, too).

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