Science Teaching Series

Internet Resources

I. Developing Scientific Literacy

II. Developing Scientific Reasoning

III. Developing Scientific Understanding

IV. Developing Scientific Problem Solving

V. Developing Scientific Research Skills

VI. Resources for Teaching Science

Activity 19.2.1 – Species diversity

redwoodEcologists have identified loss of species diversity as one of the largest ecological problems of our day.   To prevent the extinction of species and loss of species diversity, it is important to track the health and distribution of species, and store it in a database from which information can be retrieved by researchers.  Table 19.4 is a database of common and important North American trees.   Researchers can add many more categories to this table to include such important details as germination time, pest problems, and life expectancy.  The United States Department of Agriculture maintains a database that provides a wealth of information for ecologists and other researchers [, or search plants USDA database].

(1) Which three families have the greatest representation in the database? Sort (arrange) the database according to family, then perform a “subtotal”, using the count option to determine the number belonging to each family.

(2) Which two genera have the greatest representation? Sort (arrange) the database according to genus, then perform a “subtotal” function, using the count option to determine the number belonging to each genus.

(3) Which family is best represented in the western United States?  Sort by the following regions:  California (CA), Pacific Northwest (NW), Southwest (SW), and Rocky Mountains (RM).

(4) Where are oaks (genus Quercus) most common?  Sort by genus and match with regions.

USDA. (2007). Plants Database. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved June 11, 2007 from