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Ecology and Simpsons Diversity Index

These activities allow students to model how environmental scientists compare diversity in different ecosystems by using ordinary playing cards as ‘species’ to generate data to calculate Simpson’s Diversity Index. This can be completed in a single lesson. Some students find the concept of species diversity quite difficult, confusing diversity with species richness. This simple exercise allows them to rapidly generate data and use a structured recording sheet to calculate Simpson’s Index, D, and Simpson’s Diversity Index, 1 – D. 

Students then plan an investigation to find the Simpson's Diversity Index of an ecosystem. To compare ecosystems, students must use the same sampling method and compare the same organisms, such as the diversity of the invertebrates in a clean and a polluted stream, or insects in a woodland compared to a field. 

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