Bug Lyphe! A Next Generation-linked observational study in biodiversity

Dani Fegan and Marty Buehler, W. K. Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Lesson/Lesson Plan
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This lesson plan on invertebrate biodiversity provides teachers with instructional and laboratory tools to introduce students to ecological fieldwork and data analysis. Five different collection techniques are described; students can build their own collection devices (e.g., pit traps, sticky traps, Berlese funnels, or pollinator pan traps) or use easily available sweep nets. Students learn science and engineering practices such as asking questions, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematics and computational thinking, constructing explanations, and obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. Collection plot sizes can be varied for comparison to different scales as well as comparison of different ecosystems. Teacher instructional information, suggested research questions, and reflection questions are provided, along with identification keys and guides. Links are also provided for sampling techniques and randomization of data collection. For more advanced students, an Excel spreadsheet is provided where students can either compute or use the prepared formulas to calculate the Shannon-Weaver Biodiversity index for their collection sites. Teachers also have access to suggested ways that students can display and communicate their findings with their peers. Peer review is recommended as a way to improve the students' research plans. Teachers may want to start the lesson with a generative question. The generative question may be general or specific to the ecosystem under investigation, but a good generative question should raise interest and a desire to investigate. References for writing generative questions are found in the Instructional Supports comments under Resource Quality.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • High School
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

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.

Clarification Statement: Examples of mathematical representations include finding the average, determining trends, and using graphical comparisons of multiple sets of data.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to provided data.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This lesson is not "cookbook"; it does not provide a detailed list of instructions. Teachers are encouraged to leverage the background information and PowerPoint presentations that are provided to generate discussion at the beginning of the lesson. From this discussion, students should come up with questions and then design an investigation to generate data that will help them answer their questions.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students should be encouraged to consider different ways that the data can be collected, represented, analyzed, and then shared. The potential is rich and some suggestions, as well as two examples, are provided within the lesson plans.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Biodiversity is the main concept studied in this lesson. Carrying capacity will need to be inferred by the students' analysis of their data and by making comparisons across student groups and plot sizes. Teachers may want to consider including discussion about human impact and sustainability (see LS4.D. Biodiversity and Humans).

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
It is possible to teach this lesson and not apply this aspect of the crosscutting concept. However, with some planning, it can easily be accommodated within the experimental plan. In addition, the reflective discussion at the end of the lesson provides an opportunity to extend students' research findings to larger-scale populations. All students will be comparing quantities of invertebrates. If students apply the Shannon-Weaver biodiversity index, then they will also be employing proportions.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson has captured the intent of the NGSS. All three dimensions of the practice are well represented, and the science practices, in particular, are encouraged.

  • Instructional Supports: Teachers may find lesson plans, an instructor's PowerPoint, a student’s PowerPoint, data collection worksheets, and links to other resources on the lesson plan website: http://kbsgk12project.kbs.msu.edu/blog/2013/09/15/bug-lyphe-a-next-generation-linked-observational-study-in-biodiversity/ Suggestions are made within the lesson plan on how to shorten the activity, as well as extensions of the activity. Helpful resources to guide creating good generative questions may be found here: http://learnweb.harvard.edu/alps/tfu/info3c.cfm http://www.exploratorium.edu/ifi/resources/workshops/teachingforunderstanding.html Helpful links to invertebrate identification guides may be found within the provided PowerPoint presentations. Instructions for making a Berlese funnel may be found at: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent525/soil/berlese.html Further information about sampling methods, including a randomization procedure, may be found at: http://kbsgk12project.kbs.msu.edu/blog/2011/09/14/biomass-and-biodiversity-protocols/ The Shannon-Weaver Diversity Index (also known as the Shannon-Wiener Index or Shannon Index) is calculated by finding the negative sum of [(the proportion of each insect (type/order, etc.) found) multiplied by (the natural log (ln) of the proportion of each insect (type/order, etc.) found]. This is represented by the formula: H = -?Pi(lnPi) where Pi is the proportion of each species/order in the sample. The Shannon-Weaver index can theoretically range from zero (a community with only one species, which is technically just a “population”) to infinity. In practice though, a value of 7 indicates an extremely rich community while values under 1 suggest a community with low diversity. Using the provided Excel spreadsheet, the S-W Index is calculated automatically. Students may also use calculators to find the ln of their own data. A review of natural logarithms and how to use a calculator to calculate natural logarithms may be found at: https://www.khanacademy.org/math/algebra/logarithms-tutorial/natural_logarithm/v/natural-logarithm-with-a-calculator

  • Monitoring Student Progress: There are no suggestions within the activity on how to monitor student progress or how to assess student understanding. This is most likely because the activity is not pre-determined. The teacher will need to adapt their assessment and monitoring to the activity the students design.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -