Tag Archives: biodiversity

Collection manager shares her favourite items

Queensland Museum Collection Manager (Mammals and Birds), Heather Janetzki, talks about some of her favourite items within the Queensland DNA campaign that you have the opportunity to look after.

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71 new Australian Goblin spider species named by QM researcher

Written by: Dr Barbara Baehr, Research Scientist, Terrestrial Environments (Arachnida)

Minute goblin spiders with orange armour are widely distributed but hidden! Goblin spiders have a worldwide distribution but are most common in the tropics and subtropics. Goblin spiders are mega diverse however most of the species are short range endemics living in habitats ranging from forests to deserts. The name Goblin spiders was chosen only a few years ago because of their grotesque body shape. Most of the Goblin spiders are orange colored with an armored body.

Continue reading 71 new Australian Goblin spider species named by QM researcher

Understanding the diversity of the Great Barrier Reef – and why it’s important

Written by: Dr John Hooper, Head, Natural Environments

New species of life forms, ranging from bacteria even up to mammals, continue to be discovered across the world on a daily basis. This includes species that make up our Great Barrier Reef (GBR), one of seven natural wonders of the world. So while we may have a reasonably good idea about the numbers and different types (species) of corals and fishes that build and live in the GBR ecosystem, we know very little about the many, probably hundreds of thousands of other species living amongst them – even some very large species, but most very small.

Continue reading Understanding the diversity of the Great Barrier Reef – and why it’s important

New Resources to Support Sustainability Education

Written by: Marcel Bruyn, Strategic Learning

Sustainability is a cross-curriculum priority of the Australian Curriculum. Sustainability addresses the ongoing capacity of Earth to maintain all life. The AC website states that: “Education for sustainability develops the knowledge, skills, values and world views necessary for people to act in ways that contribute to more sustainable patterns of living.”

In Science: “… students appreciate that science provides the basis for decision-making in many areas of society and that these decisions can impact on the Earth system. They understand the importance of using science to predict possible effects of human and other activity and to develop management plans or alternative technologies that minimise these effects.”

Many Australians live in coastal areas and occupy catchments which supply waterways that empty into the ocean. So there is a direct link between healthy waterways and healthy marine environments, and for much of Queensland that includes coral reef environments.

Reef environment
Reef environment

The catchment and/or marine environments are an ideal foci for a school sustainability program. Here are links to excellent educational programs and resources to support the implementation of a sustainability program in your school:

Organisations and educational programs

  • Reef Guardian Schools – Great Barrier Marine Park Authority. The program encourages schools to commit to the protection and conservation of the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. The program helps to protect the Reef by promoting their ideas, initiatives and activities to communities to encourage all people to “do their bit to look after it!”. It focuses on: Curriculum offerings; Management of Resources; On-the-ground projects in your school and community and Education of the community. “
  • ReefED: online resources and activities from GBRMPA.
  • Australian Marine Environment Protection Association: AUSMEPA provides FREE educational resources on this website to help teachers plan and undertake a unit of work about key marine environmental issues, including climate change and storm water pollution.
  • Reef Check Australia: The Reef IQ Educational Program includes courses and workshops that allow students to undertake simulated coral reef surveys in the classroom.
  • Marine Education Society of Australasia.
  • Ocean Life Education ‘Brings the Sea to You’ with fun marine education programs including live marine animals designed to inspire students of all ages to appreciate and take responsibility for the marine ecosystem.
  • The Global Learning Centre is a not-for-profit community organisation dedicated to supporting education for justice, peace and sustainability.
  • Healthy Waterways: An NGO that provides information and resources on water education in South East Queensland including: information, resources and games.
  • The Up a Dry Gully Schools Program challenges primary and secondary students to explore and understand how water must be safe, secure and sustainable for our future.
  • CSIRO: CarbonKids is an educational program that combines the latest in climate science with education in sustainability.
  • CSIRO Education, North Queensland: Eco-enigma – An environmental case study where the class becomes a scientific team preparing an environmental impact report. By measuring heavy metal levels in fish, analysing silt in a river etc, students find out who is responsible for the environmental health problems of Sunny Valley.
  • Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities: Australian water education resources.
Reef Biodiscovery microsite at Queensland Museum
Reef Biodiscovery microsite at Queensland Museum

Excursions

Local Government

Many local governments have resources and staff to support sustainability education. For example:

Queensland Museum Resources

The museum has a rich repository of authoritative information and resources, including online content, interactive learning objects, games and school loan kits.

  • Biodiscovery and the Great Barrier Reef: Biodiscovery is the quest for bioactive chemicals from living organisms. Investigate some of the factors affecting the survival of reef organisms and how human activities and climate change are having an impact on the reef.
  • Backyard Explorer: An invertebrate biodiversity audit resource kit that can support biohealth assessment component of a sustainability program.
  • The museum provides loan kits that support object-based learning. For example: Marine Life: Explore a variety of marine life and how they interact with their environment and each other. Investigate interactions between living things and suitability for a marine habitat.Content of the Marine Life Loan Kit available from the Queensland Museum

Incredible Insects: From the desk of Quentin the Quoll

Photo of Quentin the Northern Tiger Quoll at his computer

To teach the Biological Sciences sub strand of the Australian Curriculum well, teachers need to feel fairly comfortable with living things. Of particular benefit is knowledge of insects, firstly because they are invertebrates and therefore don’t require the enormous screeds of paperwork for approval to use them.  Secondly, insects are just simply amazing and frankly, without them, we’d all be dead!

Insects of course are one of the main organisms which support the food webs of all others. For the lower primary year levels (K-6), insects provide a wonderful real life resource that students can observe at first hand. Insects are freely available and with a little knowledge can be easily kept for classroom learning. Many go through some quite mind-blowing transformations and they have found ways to survive in nearly every physical environment on this amazing planet. They can teach students about the needs of living things, external features, growth and change and the effects of the physical environment on survival. And insects are cited for classroom use in the Australian Curriculum and in a number of current curriculum resources for example mealworms in C2C units and the new Primary Connections module. Watch it grow!

For older students (7-10) insects are an exceptionally good resource for teaching about biodiversity, classification, taxonomic keys, sustainability and the planning and conducting of extended experimental investigations. Queensland Museum Entomologist Dr Christine Lambkin (shown below getting a few hot tips from Quentin), has been instrumental in developing a project called Backyard Explorers. The materials and videos located on the QM website  provide a step-by-step guide to conducting a biodiversity assessment using insects, complete with Excel spread sheets for recording and an automated graph creator. For this investigation and especially for the safety of students, the insects are immediately placed in preserving alcohol upon collection. Whilst this is not something teachers feel comfortable with, the deep understandings built through close and detailed examination of the specimens in fact create a greater respect for living things. The insects are only collected for scientific education explicitly following specified methods and certainly this is not open slather on killing things. The impact on insect populations is far less than that caused by the Mortein can, electric bug zappers, and car headlights.

A picture of Quentin the Quoll and QM entomologist Dr. Christine Lambkin

For younger year levels, Quentin and Christine have some other ways to obtain insects which don’t involve killing them and are also safe because the identity (and ability to sting or bite) of the insects is known. To get you started there is a fact sheet called ‘Keeping live insects’ on the following page:

Quentin will return soon with more tips for Primary and Early Years teachers in future blogs.

A LA LA! – Atlas of Living Australia Live At Last

Atlas of Living Australia Live At Last!

The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) was launched in Brisbane on the 20th May. At a special ceremony held at Queensland Museum (QM), Dr John Hooper (Head of Biodiversity and Geosciences at Queensland Museum) spoke about the collaboration of museums, herbaria, universities and other government collections in producing the ALA.

John Hooper at ALA launch.

The ALA is an online encyclopaedia of all living things in Australia. At present the website holds 23 million distribution records for Australia’s fauna and flora, with over 300 layers for mapping and analysis. It also contains images (under a Creative Commons Attribution licence), maps, identification tools, reference species lists, literature, and databases on biological collections. Here are some images showing diverse molluscs from QM’s collection as well as some colourful sponges.

Although the ALA was only recently ‘switched on’, it is still a work in progress.

The ALA allows us to build and maintain biological collections, assists with research, and aids communication.

You can access the ALA at this link.

To learn more about the biodiversity on the Great Barrier Reef and some factors that are having an impact on this biodiversity, visit the online learning resource Biodiscovery and the Great Barrier Reef. There are lots of teacher notes and student worksheets linked to the new Australian Science Curriculum in this resource.

To learn more about the areas of John’s research, visit his biography page, Dr. John Hooper.