Extinction is the death of a species, the elimination of all the individuals of a particular kind. It is a natural and common event in the long history of biological evolution. Of the estimated five hundred million species of organisms that are believed to have ever existed on earth since life began, only about five to ten million are currently alive. This represents an extinction rate of 98-99%. Many organisms, however, have become extinct as a result of human activities. The most destructive of these is habitat degradation, as humans modify the environment for their own purposes. This has had disastrous results on the biodiversity of the planet, as species extinction is rapidly accelerating.
Focus on the impact of habitat loss on the biodiversity of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin and relate it to impact through modification of the environment in the Basin.
- Identify endangered/threatened/introduced species of plants and/or animals in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.
- Identify the causes of the endangered or threatened status of those plants and/or
- Identify the causes of the introduction of exotic species of plants and/or animals into the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.
- Recognize that human activities and competition from introduced species can increase the rate of extinction of native species.
- Construction Paper
- Typing Paper
- Magazines with pictures of endangered/threatened/introduced species of plants and animals
- Scissors, Glue or Tape
- Computer with calendar program (if available)
Biodiversity of the planet will have been discussed prior to this in a unit on ecology.
- If a computer calendar program is available, students may use it to produce their calendars. If not, calendars may be made by hand.
- Research/find a list of the endangered/threatened/introduced species of plants and/or animals in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.(Refer to Threatened & Endangered Species chart.)
- Search through magazines, newspapers, or a resource file for pictures of 12 endangered/threatened/introduced plants and/or animals found in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. Students may draw all their pictures or any pictures that can't be found.
- Research 12-15 facts about each species, including the reasons for its status, its range in the Basin, the type of habitat it occupies, any efforts to save the species, etc.
- Glue each picture to a sheet of construction paper or typing paper as the calendar pictures
for a particular year.
- Prepare twelve, 8.5" x 11" sheets of paper, one for each month of the selected year.
- On each page of the calendar, fill in the facts for a particular species on twelve to fifteen days of that month.
- Assemble the calendar, matching the picture of the plant or animal with the month containing facts about that species.
- Make front and back covers for your calendar. Decorate the front cover with an outline of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin and appropriate pictures. On the back cover, write facts about endangered/threatened/introduced species in general
- Ask your students to be investigative reporters for a newspaper. Have them interview one another about endangered/threatened/introduced species they've researched in making their calendars. Questions should include the "who, what, when, where, and why" of the issue.
- Have the reporters present their findings about the endangered/threatened/introduced species in creative ways: by writing an obituary about a soon-to-be extinct species, by drawing an editorial cartoon, or by writing a newspaper story about an endangered/threatened/introduced species.
- Publish the students' work in a newsletter about endangered species and the threat to biodiversity of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin---or send the article to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation for possible publication in its newsletter.
- Which endangered species are found in your parish? What are the reasons for their endangered status? What effect have introduced species had on the native flora and fauna of your area?
- Of what value are Louisiana's wetlands to the issue of biodiversity? Interview a family member or friend over the age of 50. On audio tape or videotape, ask them to discuss changes they have witnessed in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin during their lifetime.
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