Human Impact on Biodiversity

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SWBAT explain the impact human actions have had on biodiversity and possible ways of reversing this impact.

Big Idea

The relationship between human actions and loss of biodiversity.


10 minutes

To engage students in this lesson I show the TED Ed Disappearing Frogs video by Kerry M.Kriger.

Frogs (and amphibians in general) are in danger -- worldwide, nearly one-third of the world's amphibian species are on the verge of extinction. And yet, frogs contribute to our well-being in many important ways. Kerry M. Kriger describes why frogs are in trouble and how you can help save them. (CCC-Stability and Change - small changes in one part of system might cause large changes in another part/MS-LS2-4-Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.) 

  1. Amphibians are important because __________.
    1. They eat ticks, mosquitoes and flies that spread harmful diseases.
    2. They are an integral part of the food web.
    3. When a frog species disappears, there goes any potential for improving human health the continued existence of the species.
    4. They look cool and people love them, making the world a more enjoyable place to live and helping humans connect with the natural world.
    5. All of the above
  2. Amphibians are rapidly disappearing around the world and up to _____ of all amphibians are threatened with extinction.
    1. 1/10
    2. 1/4
    3. 1/3
    4. 1/2
  3. Amphibians are under threat from which of the following factors?
    1. Pollution and pesticides
    2. Habitat destruction
    3. Over-harvesting for the pet and food trades
    4. All of the above
  4. Pesticides can harm frogs by _______.
    1. Weakening their immune systems
    2. Causing developmental deformities
    3. Both A and B
    4. None of the above
  5. A simple way to help frogs is to ____.
    1. Improving your ecological footprint
    2. Living a more environmentally-friendly life
    3. Not using pesticides
    4. All of the above 


20 minutes

In this section of the lesson, students complete an activity titled Introduction to Invasive Species from National Geographic.  Students explore the impact of invasive species.

Activity Overview:

Students learn what invasive species are, reasons they are introduced to new locations, and how invasive species harm ecosystems. (CCC-Stability and Change - small changes in one part of system might cause large changes in another part/MS-LS2-4-Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.) 

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain reasons why a non-native species might be introduced to a new location
  • Give examples of invasive species
  • Describe some of the consequences of introducing a non-native species
  • Describe relevance to their own lives

Students complete activity using their laptops.


15 minutes

In this section of the lesson students read a text titled Human Actions and the Sixth Mass Extinction from cK-12 .

Topics Covered:

1.  Causes of Extinction

2.  Effects of Extinction

3.  Examples of near Extinct Species (i.e. frogs, Northern California Salmon)

4.  Ways humans can protect Biodiversity 


Prior to reading article students complete the Human Actions and the Sixth Mass Extinction Pre Read.


To stimulate the critical thinking skills required to assess the validity of statements about the key concept using an agree/disagree table. 


Choose key ideas from the reading that may elicit misconceptions from students. Write these statements in the Statementscolumn. Have individuals respond agreeor disagreeto each statement. For each agreestatement have students provide supporting evidence or an example and for each disagreestatement have them reword the statement to make it true. 

Once students have completed reading the text they complete the Human Actions and the Sixth Mass Extinction Post Read.


To organize information and provide a visual representation that shows how factors (causes) produce an effect using a cause and effect diagram. 


Have individuals, pairs, groups, or the class complete the cause-and-effect diagram to identify the causes of the sixth mass extinction and verbally articulate the concept in a small group and then with the class. 


10 minutes

In this section of the lesson students read a passage from ReadWorks titled Frogs at Risk.

The non-profit ReadWorks is committed to solving the nation's reading comprehension crisis by giving teachers the research-proven tools and support they need to improve the academic achievement of their students.

ReadWorks provides research-based units, lessons, and authentic, leveled non-fiction and literary passages directly to educators online, for free, to be shared broadly.

The ReadWorks curriculum is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the standards of all 50 states. Most importantly, ReadWorks is faithful to the most effective research-proven instructional practices in reading comprehension.

Students use Marking the Text strategy to interact with text.


1.  Number Paragraphs

2.  Circle Key Terms, cited authors, and other essential words or numbers.

3.  Underline the author's claims and other information relevant to the reading purpose.

Once students have read text they answer the text dependent questions included in passage set.(RST.6-8.1-Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.) 


5 minutes

In this section of the lesson students complete an Exit Slip.  Students are given a choice of which question to answer, choosing from the following two questions.  From my prior experience giving students choice in assignments increases the completion percentage. (WHST.6-8.1-Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence/WHSST.6-8.2-Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content./SP6 - Constructing Explanations/SP7 - Engaging in Argument from Evidence) 

1.  A person’s ecological footprint is the total impact that person has on the planet. What are some ways that your daily habits may affect the environment? What are some simple changes you can make to be more environmentally friendly? (MS-LS2-5: Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.)

2.  What evidence supports the argument that the sixth mass extinction is inevitable? Is this evidence compelling? Why or why not? 

Students use the following sources to construct their evidence based argument/explanation.

1.  CER Graphic Organizer

2.  Transition Words