Biodiversity by Stanley and Jessica
We're Jessica and Stanley, and we're exploring the African rainforest on our home turf in New York City! We went to the Bronx Zoo, where they have animals and plants just like those in the African Congo. We'd heard how many different kinds of animals and plants live in the rainforest (that's called biodiversity), so we wanted to see for ourselves how that could be. Our question: How can so many different kinds of animals live together in the rainforest?
What did we do?
The rainforest has five very different layers: the emergent layer at the very top, the canopy, the understory, the shrub layer, and the forest floor at the very bottom. We drew a map of the layers and recorded where the 12 of the animals in the Bronx Zoo Congo Exhibit live. We also wrote down observations that showed us how they've adapted to life in that area of the jungle.
What did we find out?
There were a lot more plants and animals living in the Congo rainforest than we expected! Their homes are in different layers or niches, but they depend on each other to survive. We think it's interesting how each animal seems suited to the layer it lives on. Another thing we noticed was a lot of the animals were endangered because of losing their habitat. If humans get rid of rainforests, they get rid of the animals too!
- A fish aquarium is a great place to study plant and animal biodiversity. Set up an aquarium for small fish like guppies, tetras, or goldfish. Select a variety of fish, but don't overstock the aquarium (roughly "one inch" of fish per gallon). Include a bottom feeder, or maybe a snail or frog. Pick out aquatic plants, too. Then observe how each of the creatures fits in to the habitat you created.
- Participate in a BioBlitz event, or just hold your own. Pick a habitat to study for a day, such as a grassy field, or a section of woods, or even a stream. You might even go to a zoo. Wherever you choose, do a count of the number of different plants and animals you see in that area. If you don't know the name of a certain plant or animal, just describe it so you can identify it later. A healthy habitat usually has many different plants and animals. How many can you find on your BioBlitz?
- Use this zoo investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!