Ecosystem Change

ECOSYSTEM CHANGE is about the interdependence of all living things and the nonliving environment. It is also about how human activities are changing ecosystems around the world. Through case studies your students will learn about the vastly different kinds of ecosystems, or biomes, on our planet. They will discover that humans have been changing ecosystems for thousands of years; but that the pace of change has increased with the rapid growth of human populations in the last century. In the laboratory, your students will investigate the variables that are important in the process of decomposition, and relate their findings to the biogeochemical cycles that maintain Earth’s biosphere. Through interviews, they will “meet” scientists like Samira Omar of Kuwait, who is studying the ecological effects of the Gulf War; and Dr. Dagmar Werner, who is working to preserve the biodiversity of the rain forests of Central America. They will also find out what people in the United States are doing to reduce human impact on ecosystems, and consider ways that their own actions can make a difference.

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