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Importance of Biodiversity

Discusses the importance of species variation in a given area.

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Seeking Spiders
Teacher Contributed

Seeking Spiders

Ladybird Spider (Eresus cinnaberinus). This isn't a goblin spider but it is a beautiful spider.

Why It Matters

You Have To Start Somewhere

Biodiversity is a topic you hear quite a bit about today. But how much biodiversity do we have and how much do we need? You may have noticed when people mention the number of species of something you often see the words "at least" or "over". Such as, "there are over 10 species of Bigfoots on the planet." This is because we really do not know what the biodiversity of our planet is. We do know we are losing species, and that these species are important to the stability of ecosystems which are in turn important to Homo sapiens. But we don't know how many species we have. This is changing however. In order to try to determine the biodiversity of the planet, scientists across the world have teamed up to focus on one group of organisms. You have to start somewhere.

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Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. How much of the biodiversity of the planet can be accounted for by large easily identified animals? How much about the planet and its ecosystems do you think can be learned studying only large easily identified animals? Think carefully and explain your reasoning.
  2. How large is the typical goblin spider? How does its size fit its habitat?
  3. How many of the goblin spiders found in Ecuador are also found in other locations? Does this situation change your opinion on biodiversity? How do you think this information should inform efforts to preserve biodiversity?
  4. What do you think of the approach of fully determining the biodiversity of a group like spiders to serve as a model for determining the biodiversity of other groups and ultimately the planet? Does this seem like a good approach to you? Can you think of a better way to approach the problem of determining global biodiversity?

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