HONR 208V Biodiversity on the Decline: Society’s Biggest Threat
Tuesday/Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Dr. Dale Bottrell, Department of Entomology
Biodiversity, or the variety and variation among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur, is not just a source of aesthetic pleasure. It is the common theme for all life and the key to the sustained existence of humans. Yet, trends show that biodiversity is vanishing at an unprecedented rate. Worldwide, 100 to 200 species may become extinct daily because of disappearing natural habitats, displacement of indigenous life forms by invading exotic species, and environmental pollution. Loss of biodiversity increases the risks of ecological instability, environmental degradation, diminished economic resources, and human suffering. All areas are in jeopardy, but poor countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America stand to lose the most since they are in the tropics, where most of Earth’s species exist and where assaults on biodiversity are greatest.
Students will critically assess how biodiversity benefits humans, what will happen if we continue to plunder it, and how social factors slow progress in reversing its loss. They will be challenged to assess key scientific factors related to biodiversity and also to engage in relevant social issues that affect biodiversity loss. An important goal will be to examine equity and legal questions regarding the roles and responsibilities of prosperous versus poor countries in halting biodiversity loss.
Classes will be highly interactive, emphasize intense and critical thinking, and require regular written assessments on assigned topics to be pursued in small groups. To promote effective team interaction, students in the course will be randomly assigned to study groups of 4 or 5 members per group. Each group will select its own group leader whose job will be to keep the discussions going and to post the group presentations of assigned topics.
Grades will be based on class participation, written assignments, and a take-home final exam.
Simon A. Levin, Fragile Dominion–Complexity and the Commons
Peter J. Bryant, Biodiversity and Conservation
LFSC 660 Biodiversity and Conservation Biology website
www.courses.umd.edu (username: mlsstudent, password: life)
The journals Science; Nature
CORE–Life Sciences, non-lab