Honolulu Zoo Society : Biomes

Threats (Human Impact to Various Biomes)

Topic Overview

Life on Earth is a vast and varied collection of plants and animals. They live on land, in the air, and in water. Each ecosystem, no matter how large or how small, is a community of interdependent life. The actions of one creature affect the other creatures in that ecosystem. Human beings are only one of many animal species that live on Earth. However, unlike most species, humans live and play everywhere. Our actions affect the health of the oceans, the land, and the air. Sometimes, our actions help other species to survive. Sometimes, people's actions endanger other species' survival. Learn more about the human impact, the footprint,  people leave.

Begin the Lesson

Whole Class Introduction to the Lesson

You will need at least one computer with Internet connectivity and a projection device, a classroom with more than one computer, or access to a computer lab.  This introduction will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

As part of the introduction, you may want to review some of the glossary terms in advance of students going online. At this point you can launch the WebLesson as whole-class activity using a projection device, or you can assign students to work individually or in teams in a computer lab.

Ask students to think about what they ate for breakfast that morning. Share some common breakfast foods (egg, milk, banana, toast) and ask students to raise their hand if they ate one of these. Ask students if they have ever thought about where those products come from, and what resources are used in order for milk, eggs, bananas, bread to arrive at their table in the morning. Share National Geographic's Human Footprint interactive. Click on the breakfast foods and explore with the class how much they consume in a year, or a lifetime. Select one food and brainstorm the production chain for that food. Then, brainstorm a list of environmental impacts associated with growing/raising, producing, and transporting it.

Direct small groups of students to select one of the other items in the Footprint menu to explore and to discuss the environmental impact.




WebLesson Sites
Our world is covered with beautiful natural places, each rich with natural resources. The challenge for humans is how to harness those natural resources while protecting the ecosystem. It requires planning and care. In some places, and with some species, our impact has been destructive, even fatal. In others, our actions have been more responsible. Come explore the human footprint on biomes around the world.
When you travel, it is nice to share with friends at home what you have done and share with them the best sights. Post cards are a convenient way to do that. As you travel through this WebLesson, think about the places and things you are seeing and learning about. Which would you like to share with others?
Lesson Pages
Human Impact: Introduction
Rich Media
Trinidads Giant Turtles
Rich Media
A Students Guide to Global Climate Change
Rich Media
Conclusion & Project
In this WebLesson you traveled around the world, through different biomes, and into the future. You visited endangered animals and saw how careless and thoughtless human activity can damage animal and plant habitats. You also learned how careful and educated human activity can protect places, plants, and animals. The world is one enormous and beautiful web of life. One change may seem small, but it forever changes an ecosystem, a food web, a species' chances of survival, and our home.
Your trip to visit different plants and animals, to see different places, and to check out the future was a busy one. You did not have a chance to send any post cards while you were traveling. But, you did bring three post cards back. Write them now! Send a post card to a friend, a family member, and a teacher. Each card should describe something you saw or heard. Your postcards should share something you learned, and why that is important to you. You might also include a suggestion for protecting the planet.
account - report
alarming - upsetting
amusement - fun
associated - connected
century - 100 years
colonize - send a group of settlers in to establish control
converse - the opposite
crusade - to lead or organize an effort
detrimental - causing harm
disrupt - interrupt
diverse - having a lot of different things
elusive - hard to find
emission - the release of something, usually a gas
encroach - to move in on something else's space
endangered - a species of plant or animal at risk of extinction
endangered - a species of plant or animal at risk of extinction
erode - the gradual wearing away of rock, soil, or land
exacerbate - make it worse
extinct - a species of plant or animal that no longer exists
folly - foolishness
graphic - sharing a vivid picture with many details
indicator - a fact that provides information about something
invasive species - a species that does not occur naturally in an area and causes environmental, economic or human harm
landfill - a place to get rid of garbage
launch - set in motion
perpetuate - help something continue
recycle - convert waste into reusable material
revitalize - provide new energy
squall - a sudden violent gust of wind
stability - unchanging
swath - a broad area
torrential - very heavy
vermin - wild animals thought to harm crops and spread disease