Prep: 1 hour | Activity: 5 days
Understanding the relationships among biotic diversity and abiotic factors in an ecosystem can be a difficult task. Using soil invertebrates, students can identify both the number of species present in a soil sample and the number of individuals within a species. With some simple math, the density of invertebrates in a plot can be calculated. Students will construct a simple and inexpensive Berlese funnel to collect soil invertebrates and then identify them.
How can the biodiversity and density of soil invertebrates be studied?
LLS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics ESS2 Earth’s Systems
Remind students to use scissors properly. Identify students who may have allergies to bug bites, insect stings, plants, or pollen. Take necessary precautions.
Return excess soil outside. Once invertebrates are identified, flush alcohol down the sink with water. Dispose of invertebrates in the trash.
Berlese Funnel Construction
Identify and record the type and number of invertebrates in the soil sample.
Typical invertebrates may include ants, mites, spiders, springtails, termites, and centipedes.
Calculate invertebrate density.
Density = total number of animals/area (50 cm × 50 cm)
Compare group results and discuss differences in samples and locations.
Answers will vary.
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