Biodiversity: A Pizza Supreme Activity!

Summary

Using pizza slices and the toppings, students will be able to create scenarios that are consistent with situations in a real biodiverse (or not so diverse) environment.

Objectives

Students will be able to visualize the importance of biodiversity using pizza slices.

Materials

A pizza supreme and a good imagination!

Background

What's a supreme pizza? A tasty pizza with everything on it! It starts out with a thin, thick, or crispy crust. Then, you add some tomato paste, cheese (lots of cheese!), sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, and so on. It's the perfect combination. Imagine, for a second, the pizza without the cheese that holds it together. Or, imagine the pizza without a crust or even without the tomato paste. It would not be a pizza at all.

Now, imagine our planet as a huge pizza. The land is the crust, the cheese is the air we breathe, and the tomato paste represents the rivers and oceans that supply our planet with the water and places for a variety of plants and animals to live and grow (not to mention humans). These plants and animals that live and grow in the oceans, in the rivers, and on land are the sausage, pepperoni, peppers, and mushrooms of our planet! When the pepperoni and mushrooms are removed, you don't quite have a supreme pizza anymore. Take away the peppers and sausage and you're left with a plain cheese pizza.

This is what happens in life. When man overfishes the oceans, kills animals unnecessarily, and cuts down entire forests to build more homes or shopping malls - the earth is no longer as diverse or full of variety as before. Animals become scarce and are forced to look elsewhere for food and shelter. Pollution is a quick way to kill plants and animals that share this planet with us. It is actually happening today! Even the simple act of removing a plant that appears insignificant and planting something pretty and exotic in its place could seriously affect the plants and animals that depended upon that plant for food. Since the animals do not recognize this plant, they will search elsewhere to eat. These pretty plants could even grow so successfully that they will eventually replace the original native plants that were naturally important as food and shelter.

Over time, pollution and actions such as cutting down trees and innocently removing special plants, caused certain plant and animal species to fight extra hard to grow or to find food. Eventually, some of these plants and animals lost the fight and began to die out. These plants and animals became so rare that the U.S. Government decided to do something about it! In 1973, the Endangered Species Act was passed. This is a law that protects these plants and animals and the habitats in which they live and grow. This law teaches us that every plant and animal is important to our planet and to each other. Whenever animals or plants become extinct, a gap is left in the food web. The animals or plants that depended upon them for survival will need to look somewhere else for food and shelter. Sometimes, these other animals are not successful and they, too, will eventually die out. If this were to continue, what could eventually happen?

 


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