Students analyze a community of beans (pinto, lima, navy) to determine the richness, abundance, and biodiversity index of two communities. The communities are set up in advance, just place bags of beans into a large bowl or bucket, and then have students use a small cup to model sampling. After counting the number of each type of bean, students record data on a table and determine the relative abundance of each “species” of bean.
Student will then use an equation to establish the biodiversity index. Discussion questions ask students to explain why one community has a higher index than the other and to explain why different groups got different results (sampling errors). Discussion follows regarding why the biodiversity index might be important to ecologists who study forests and other ecosystems.
Grade Level: 9-12
Time Required: 20-30 minutes + discussion
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HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
How do I set this up? How many beans of each type on the two communities?
I usually just throw together what I have laying around in the lab or left over from the plant unit. You just need one to be really diverse with a whole bunch of different types and one to be not as diverse so that the two “communities” look different in the calculations. You could also substitute with other materials, like beads or toys.