Biodiversity, Invasive Species, and Plant Biosecurity-Activity #1


Activity Description: 

The presentation focuses on biodiversity, how invasive species affect biodiversity, who is involved in detecting invasive species, and plant biosecurity.  It also features other plant biosecurity issues such as those that affect our food supply, the USDA Select Agents and Toxins list, and agroterrorism events of the last century.

In the experiment that follows, students collect and compare the biodiversity of insects in two different ecosystems.


Students will gain an understanding of how invasive species affect natural ecosystems and agricultural systems and that there are several agencies and individuals that monitor for invasive species. 

In the activity, students gain an understanding of how biodiversity is calculated and how biodiversity compares between different types of ecosystems.

Educational Standards: 

National Science Education Life Science Standards

  • Grades 9-12: Human beings live within the world's ecosystems. Increasingly, humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems will be irreversibly affected. 

Sunshine State Standards

  • SC.912.L.17.8: Recognize the consequences of the losses of biodiversity due to catastrophic events, climate changes, human activity, and the introduction of invasive, non-native species. 
Pre-Activity Prep: 
  • The scripted presentation can be downloaded from  Be sure to go over the text ahead of time, tweaking it as you need to for your audience. In addition, all three activities are included in the presentation, so be sure to remove the ones you do not wish to do. 
  • Download and make copies of student handouts “How to Calculate Biodiversity” and “Biodiversity Worksheet” from 
Doing the Activity: 

The activity can be found on Page 2 of the PDF linked below.

  • Empty plastic vials (enough for 8 vials per group, 4 vials for eachecosystem sampled). 
  • Masking tape and pencil or marker (to identify the samples and the collectors). 
  • For one of the collecting methods, you will need three or four student sweep nets. 
  • For another collecting method, you will need three or four white sheets and sticks or wooden dowels. 
  • In order to help preserve the insects while in the field, it is good to have a cooler with ice in which to put the samples. When you get back to the classroom, you will need to freeze the insects overnight to kill them. 
  • Hand lenses or stereo microscopes (enough for each group) and forceps or tweezers (enough for each group). 
  • Multiple sheets of white paper for sorting the insects. 
Five to six class periods