Day 5: What Determines Current Tree Biodiversity?


Students will propose adaptations and reproductive strategies that led to the current biodiversity of trees in their environment.

Lesson Overview

Students will discuss the school habitat and why it is structured the way it is structured. Students will relate how humans have impacted the school habitat and how the school habitat impacts humans. Students will also revisit the concept of how invasive species reduce biodiversity.

1 class period

Tree assessment


Assignments: Students will retake the tree assessment and reflect on how their answers changed.


Engage: 5 minutes. Write the phrase survival of the fittest and fitness on the board. Include an image on a PowerPoint slide of a weight lifter, and a nerd with lots of children. Write “who is more fit?”


Explore: 5 minutes. Briefly question the students to activate their prior knowledge (from day 3) about evolution and natural selection. Tell them that the man with more children is more fit. Remember the concept of overproduction? Lead the students to realize that because trees overproduce, they are not necessarily fit because their offspring does not all survive to reproduce.


20 minutes. In your small groups, have students evaluate why their plot was structured the way it was. Why does it contain the trees it does? What adaptations have allowed those trees to be found in that place? Have humans changed the way our deciduous forest would look if we weren’t here? How does the structure of our schoolyard habitat impact humans?


Explain: 15 minutes. Discuss as a class the forest structure. This leads to many avenues for discussion of ecological benefits, conservation, etc… Revisit the importance of preventing the introduction of invasive species.

Evaluate: 5 minutes. 4 question multiple choice quiz on concepts in evolution relating to biodiversity.

Lesson Resources

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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