This unit is about ecology, the study of the interaction between living species. As we discussed in the unit lesson, all species are dependent on one another—even trees need birds to eat the insects that want to devour the trees. Some trees, like oaks, need squirrels to plant their acorns. Consequently, when you study a species in the Red List for this assignment, be aware that somewhere along the line, this species is important.
A computer with Internet access
1. Click on https://www.iucnredlist.org(or copy and paste the URL into your browser) to go to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species website. The site may load somewhat slowly, so be patient.
2. Take a moment to peruse the website. Scroll down and look at a few of the animals and the news articles.
3. On the Redlist home page, type the state in which you reside in the search box where it says “names – common, scientific, regions etc…” (see below). A list of species will appear in a drop-down menu. You can select “more species” from the drop-down menu to see more. You will want to study a species that lives near you and upon which you might be able to have an impact.
NOTE: Make sure that the species you pick actually lives near you. For example, the “South Georgia Diving-petrel” does not live in the state of Georgia in the United States, but rather on the South Georgia Island near Antarctica. To confirm that your chosen species lives near you, select the “Geographic range in detail” link beneath the map that appears.
4. Do not pick a species that has a category of “least concern,” “data deficient,” or “not evaluated.”
What Information Did You Find?
Study the available information about your species and answer the following questions (in your own words—do not copy and paste from the site). When reviewing information on the site, look for “in detail” to get a more comprehensive picture (e.g., population in detail, conservation in detail, and so on).
Respond to each question in the blank area following it. Each area will expand as necessary.
1. What is the common name and the scientific name of your species?
2. What is your species’ Redlist category? (For example, endangered, critically endangered, or one of the others.)
3. What kind of habitat does the species inhabit? Briefly describe the habitat/biome.
a. Tell what other plants and animals live in this biome.
4. What are some of the threats to the species?
a. Which threats are caused by humans?
5. Does human population growth adversely impact this species? In what way?
6. Consider the population of your species.
a. What is the estimated population of the organism and how was it measured?
b. What is the population trend?
7. Consider the habitat for your species.
a. What might be some density dependent factors?
b. What might be some density independent factors?
c. Briefly list ways in which climate change might be affecting this creature’s habitat.
d. List two actions people can do to preserve this species and biodiversity.
8. List some things that can be done to protect this species’ habitat.
9. Is your species in an extinction vortex? Explain.
Written Response Questions
10. Discuss what it means for a species to be a keystone species, and give an example.
a. Is the species you picked on the Redlist a keystone species? Why, or why not?
11. If your species becomes extinct, what changes might you expect to occur in its biome and the food web?
a. Which species might benefit if your species becomes extinct, and why would that/those species benefit?
b. Which species would be harmed if your species becomes extinct?
c. Comment on possible interaction of these on your species:
i. Mutualism (page 352 in your textbook)
ii. Predation (page 352 in your textbook)
iii. Competition (page 353 in your textbook)