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The Benthos: A Lesson in Temperate Reef Biodiversity

Activity Summary
In this activity students will be given quadrat photographs taken of the benthos (Benthic=bottom) at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary in Georgia, USA.  They will use an identification key to determine the species in each quadrat. They will also count the total individuals and the number of squares each species occurs in on their quadrat.  They will use this information to calculate a simple biodiversity index for the reef.  The students will then use that biodiversity index outcome to assess the health of their reef ecosystem.

Grade Levels

Learning Objectives
1. Define biodiversity
2. Recall reasons that biodiversity is important to ecosystem health
3. Visually identify species found on temperate hard bottom reefs
4. Calculate reef diversity using a simplified biodiversity index

Lesson Materials (view or download)
Lesson Plans
Quadrat 1 – Reef 1
Quadrat 1 – Reef 2
Quadrat 2 – Reef 1
Quadrat 2 – Reef 2

marine biology, ecosystem health

Last updated: 5/22/2015