Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Citizen science and global biodiversity

4.1 Spatial scale

As hinted at in Section 2, considering biodiversity on a spatial scale requires a more specific boundary to be set. For example, when looking at a global level, the pattern of biodiversity demonstrates that more than half of all plant species live in the moist tropical rain forests – an area that covers just 6% of the world’s land surface – while Earth’s desert biome has low biodiversity. However, at a local level, an oasis in the middle of a desert (e.g. the Cuatro Ciéngas Basin in Mexico) could have a higher biodiversity than a plantation forest in the middle of a rainforest biome. This example demonstrates the need to understand spatial scale in terms of hierarchy, from local to landscape, then on to regional, continental and global scales. (See Figure 12 for a diagrammatic description of this arrangement.) It should be noted, however, that these scales are arbitrary and often follow an accepted organisational level.

An analogous example is the way human societies are organised in tiered arrangements of administrative levels.They range from municipalities up to countries, and then to regional organisations – for example, the European Union – and, at a global level, the United Nations.

When it comes to biodiversity, the reason for such organisation is often related to levels of environmental drivers, be they climate or geological. This is covered in more detail in Section 5.

Figure 12 Spatial demonstration of biodiversity scale: local (<1000 m), landscape (<100 km), regional (< 1000 km), continental (<5000 km), global (<20,000 km)
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Activity 6 Species distribution

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Think of a species that is common in your locality. Try to find its distribution map on iSpot [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] or another resource such as Map of Life. Comment on its prevalence at the local, landscape, regional, continental and global scale.

Answer

You should have collected a series of maps and left a comment on each one regarding your chosen species’ prevalence.

CSGB_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371