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The Importance of Biodiversity: An Experiment on the Diversity of Plant and Arthropod Species

Pre-Video Questions

1)Provide a brief definition of the following terms to gain familiarity before watching the video.




d.Scientific method:





i.Exotic species:

Please read the video summary below and answer the questions that follow in detail.

What do you think of when you hear the term “biodiversity?” Do you only picture rainforests or coral reefs? Maintaining a wide variety and number of species is important everywhere, even in your own backyard! When a forest or prairie was cut and grass planted for a lawn, the diversity of plant species was greatly reduced. That affected the ability of the area to recycle nutrients and water, provide natural resources, and especially support other living organisms in the community, including you! 

The following question is addressed in this experiment: “Is there a relationship between the diversity of plant species and the diversity of arthropod species in different habitats, especially those altered by people?” Arthropods include insects, spiders, centipedes, and millipedes. We will visit several different habitats, measure the diversity of plants and arthropods, and analyze the data to answer our question.

2)Describe in detail an experiment you would conduct to answer the question in the experiment.

3)What are your predictions for the outcome of the experiment in the video? 

4)Do you think it is worthwhile for society to spend money and effort to conserve living things like plants and arthropods? Why or why not?

5)Why is biodiversity important?

6)What is a “species?”

7)In a community of living organisms, how might arthropods and plants interact with each other?

8)How were plant species sampled in the experiment?

9)How were arthropod species sampled in the experiment?

10)Describe the relationship between the terms “arthropod” and “insect.”

11)What is an “exotic” species?

12)What effects do exotic species have on an ecosystem?

13)Can you think of any exotic species where you live?

14)Why were wheat and oat fields sampled instead of corn and soybeans?

15)Why do farmers use pesticides?

16)Why was the data from the experiment graphed?

17)Describe the relationship between the number of plant and arthropod species found in the experiment.

18)Do you have a hypothesis about why the relationship between plants and arthropods exists?

19)What questions still need to be answered about the relationship between plant and arthropod species?

20)If the following data was obtained from the experiment instead, what conclusions would you draw about the relationship between plants and arthropods? Graph the data and explain your conclusion.

Location Avg. # Plant Species/1 m2 Total # Arthropod Species 

Short-grass Prairie 12 31

Tall-grass Prairie 6 35

Wetland 18 12

Rye Field 3 5

Potato Field 1 15

Cranberry Bog 3 28

Residential Lawn 6 18

Hardwood Forest 24 31

21)What are the ecological consequences of losing arthropod or plant biodiversity to exotic species or habitat destruction? 

22)Do you have any suggestions for balancing our need for growing crops and preserving biodiversity?

23)Was the scientific method used in this experiment? Explain how each step of the process was or was not followed.

24)What were the variables in this experiment?

Part III: Video Evaluation

25)Do you think this experiment was accurate?  Was the information provided accurate?

26)What did you see that was done wrong in the experiment?

27)How would you have done the experiment differently?

28)What was the most interesting part of the video?

29)What was something new you learned?

30)What are you confused about from the video? 

31)Do you see any relationships to your life? Why or why not?

32)Which part would you like to learn more about?

33)What follow-up experiment would you like to do and how would you relate it to your life?

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