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Scientists estimate that there are 8,000,000 species of insects, only 950,000 of which have been identified. There are about 4,000 identified mammal species. There is a lot about our natural world that is left to discover. The huge variety of species on Earth may be in danger. In recent geological history a species with a terrible capacity for destruction has arrived that may destroy the biosphere as we know it. That scary organism is us as humans. The term biodiversity refers to the variety of different species found in a given area. With the human ability to take over an area for farming or building, we have begun to cause the extinction of thousands of species. The big question is does it matter?

Some think that biodiversity is important biologically speaking, because variety is what allows species to survive hard times. Doing away with variety may make species die out faster. Beyond preserving the pure wonder of biodiversity, maintaining these multiple varieties can help humans in food production, medical discoveries and working with other substances that could have commercial value.

Others think that biodiversity is important because they find the variety of living things on Earth to be aesthetically pleasing. Others think it is morally or ethically wrong to allow the extinction of species. Some attempt to create social standards that support their thoughts regarding maintaining biodiversity.

To other people, the idea of maintaining biodiversity simply makes economic sense since our food comes to us from living things. Maintaining biodiversity will allow us more choices for food as human populations increase on Earth. Botanists also talk about the possibility of finding cures for human diseases in the yet undiscovered plants of remote regions. Twenty five percent of all prescription medicines in the United States have active ingredients that were originally derived from plants. The goal of maintaining biodiversity is like protecting a library of books that have not yet been read. What information could be discovered in each organic volume?


Written Arguement:

The statements above barely begin to touch the surface of the issues relating to biodiversity. Your task will be to select an argument with regard to maintaining biodiversity and convince your classmates that it is a valid argument.

  1. In the paragraphs above, some words were in bold green text. Re-examine those paragraphs and decide which kind of argument you would select. If you think the idea of preserving biodiversity is silly, choose which argument you think is the silliest and work to prove it is wrong instead of supporting it.
  2. Create a persuasive argument for the topic of your choice. You may choose any of the following formats:
    • Write a five to six paragraph essay.
    • Write a persuasive letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
    • Create a video promoting your topic.
    • Design a web page to share your views.
  3. Share your argument with your teacher, a parent or guardian, friends and/or classmates.


Complete the Forest Biodiversity Webquest

Review science lab safety rules here.

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  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

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Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE Earth Systems Science core.


Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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