Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

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Citizen science and global biodiversity

Week 2: Global biodiversity


There is a rich diversity of life around us. Wherever you are in the world, be it in a tropical rainforest or deceptively quiet tundra, there will be various types of species, whether they are towering trees or microscopic fungi. However, appreciating this diversity would require not only keen observation skills but also the ability to identify them.

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In mixed woodlands like this, in high summer, the trees are in leaf, there's the sound of birds and insects, butterflies basking in grass. There's a rich diversity of life.
This is a mixed woodland, and there are a number of trees. There are oak trees which are towering above the hazel, ash, and lime. And they are occupying different zones because of differences in humidity and light. But this is not only about trees. There are a vast number of other species too.
And the wood changes with the seasons, unlike tropical forests, where there's very little difference around the year. So come here in autumn, when the leaves are coming off the trees and a new group of organisms makes its appearance-- fungi.
There are many different types of fungi, some quite distinctive to look at, others that you can only tell apart with a microscope. Identity is crucial to making sense of these rich and diverse variety. This makes them an interesting challenge to work with.
Here are some samples collected in one hour by a group of enthusiasts from one wood. And they are tentative identification. Some really can be identified just by appearance. Others need a microscope. You will learn more about identification techniques for fungi later. But remember, knowing them starts with collection and then identification.
A large number of species are part of this woodland ecosystem. But how can this diversity, this biodiversity, be quantified? How do we define a species? These are questions for this week's study.
You'll look at examples of life from around the world and a broad range of ecosystem types, which will start with forests and woods.
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By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • recognise a working definition of the term ‘species’
  • recognise and understand terminology that is relevant to biodiversity
  • understand the role of biodiversity drivers and how they influence biodiversity
  • give examples of threats to biodiversity and limitations of the state of knowledge of biodiversity.

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