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Author

Damian Carrington

Grades

9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects

Science, Biology, Social-Emotional Learning

Resource Types

  • Article
  • Data

Regional Focus

Global

Humans Just 0.01% of All Life but Have Destroyed 83% of Wild Mammals

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  • This powerful article describes the huge impact that humans have had on global biodiversity in recent history. 
  • The results are striking and the infographics that accompany the article help illustrate the massive declines in wild mammals, marine mammals, wild birds, and plants. 

Positives

  • The graphics are very useful in understanding and visualizing the data.
  • It may prompt students think about ethics, sustainability, and the rights of other species to exist.

Additional Prerequisites

  • It might be helpful to use pie charts to show students the distribution of biomass for mammals (humans, livestock, and wild animals) and birds (wild vs. livestock).
  • Some students may be saddened by the incredible loss of wild animals, so be prepared to support those emotions.

Differentiation

  • History and social studies classes could use this article to discuss how the Industrial Revolution, industrialized agriculture, the development of Germ Theory, or advancements made in the 20th century that changed our relationship with nature.
  • Science and biology classes could use this resource when discussing nutrient cycling, ecosystems, land use, agriculture, deforestation, and mass extinction events.
  • Math classes could use the data from this article to develop their own graphs or charts to display the information.
  • Other resources on this topic include Are We Living in the Sixth Extinction?, Biodiversity and Humans, this interactive data resource about agriculture, and this Khan Academy video about biodiversity and extinction.
This Guardian article discusses a 2018 research paper that estimated the total mass of all living organisms on Earth and shares some of the findings. This resource is an unusual look at life on our planet and presents some unexpected facts. For instance, farmed poultry make up 70% of the mass of all birds on Earth, with wild birds making up only 30%. Additionally, livestock make up 60% of the mass of all mammals on Earth, with humans making up 36% and wild mammals only 4%. This unusual metric could provide a good thought piece for students. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-1 Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.
      • HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
      • HS-LS2-6 Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
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Reviews

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  • This is a stunning article with helpful images.
    11 months ago