Biodiversity and Health

Biodiversity and Health Photo Credit: Clipart.com


Once students read the three articles assigned to them on the Biodiversity and Health student esheet, they will be directed to answer the questions below in their own words in a brief paragraph. Examples of ideas that students might include in their responses are indicated in italic type.

According to the article "Tipping the Scale: The Delicate Balance Between Microbes and Man," what are the benefits of biodiversity?
Examples include: biodiversity assures us of sufficient food and fresh water; provides sources of medicines; provides biological models that help scientists understand how the human body works; warns us of toxins and other environmental hazards; and keeps populations of disease-causing organisms in check.

How can a change in the environment lead to a change in disease behavior?
Examples include: A parasite may switch to a different host, possibly human, when biodiversity is reduced and its natural hosts become rare or nonexistent. When people move into a previously untouched habitat, diseases naturally occurring in wildlife may adapt to be able to infect humans. The habitat change may be more conducive to the spread of a pathogen. Predators that kept the population of pathogens under control may be lost due to habitat change. If the quality of fresh water is altered, the spread of water-borne disease becomes more likely.

What role does human activity play in environmental changes that affect biodiversity?
Human activities are altering the atmosphere, the oceans, and the land at a greater rate than ever before. Human population is growing rapidly and migration patterns also are changing. Warfare disruption also plays a role, including the development of biological weapons. The increase of urbanization and population density provides a favorable environment for the spread of pathogens.

This teacher sheet is a part of the Preserving Health through Biological Diversity lesson.

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