30 June 2016

#144 Biodiversity, classification and conservation Syllabus 2016 - 2018

18.1 Biodiversity
18.2 Classification
18.3 Conservation

The biodiversity of the Earth is threatened by human activities and climate change. Classification systems attempt to put order on the chaos of all the organisms that exist on Earth. Field work is an important part of a biological education to appreciate this diversity and find out how to analyse it. There are opportunities in this section for candidates to observe different species in their locality and assess species distribution and abundance. Conserving biodiversity is a difficult task but is achieved by individuals, local groups, national and international organisations. Candidates should appreciate the threats to biodiversity and consider the steps taken in conservation, both locally and globally. 

Candidates will be expected to use the knowledge gained in this section to solve problems in familiar and unfamiliar contexts.

Learning outcomes 

Candidates should be able to:

18.1 Biodiversity

Biodiversity is much more than a list of all the species in a particular area.

a) define the terms species, ecosystem and niche 

b) explain that biodiversity is considered at three different levels: 
• variation in ecosystems or habitats 
• the number of species and their relative abundance 
• genetic variation within each species 

c) explain the importance of random sampling in determining the biodiversity of an area 

d) use suitable methods, such as frame quadrats, line transects, belt transects and mark-release-recapture, to assess the distribution and abundance of organisms in a local area 

e) use Spearman’s rank correlation and Pearson’s linear correlation to analyse the relationships between the distribution and abundance of species and abiotic or biotic factors 

f) use Simpson’s Index of Diversity (D) to calculate the biodiversity of a habitat and state the significance of different values of D 

18.2 Classification

Organisms studied locally may be used to show how hierarchical classification systems are organised.

a) describe the classification of species into the taxonomic hierarchy of domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species 

b) outline the characteristic features of the three domains Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya 

c) outline the characteristic features of the kingdoms Protoctista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia 

d) explain why viruses are not included in the three domain classification and outline how they are classified, limited to type of nucleic acid (RNA or DNA) and whether these are single stranded or double stranded

18.3 Conservation

Maintaining biodiversity is important for many reasons. Actions to maintain biodiversity must be taken at local, national and global levels. 

 It is important to conserve ecosystems as well as individual species.

a) discuss the threats to the biodiversity of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (see 18.1b) 

b) discuss the reasons for the need to maintain biodiversity 

c) discuss methods of protecting endangered species, including the roles of zoos, botanic gardens, conserved areas (national parks and marine parks), ‘frozen zoos’ and seed banks 

d) discuss methods of assisted reproduction, including IVF, embryo transfer and surrogacy, used in the conservation of endangered mammals 

e) discuss the use of culling and contraceptive methods to prevent overpopulation of protected and non-protected species 

f) use examples to explain the reasons for controlling alien species 

g) discuss the roles of non-governmental organisations, such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in local and global conservation 

h) outline how degraded habitats may be restored with reference to local or regional examples

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