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Biodiversity Counts: Cumberland River Mussels

Grade levels: 6th, 7th, 8th, Environmental Science, Ecology 

Topics: Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Human Impact

Languages: English

Interdisciplinary: No

Disciplinary Core Idea
LS2:  Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics 

In this lesson, students will learn about biodiversity and how we measure it for biological communities. They will learn to calculate a diversity metric (Simpson’s Index), then use that data to see how diversity can affect a communities’ resistance to disaster or disturbance.  They will use freshwater mussels as a model community for this exercise, so students will also get a chance to learn about mussel diversity in the Cumberland River. This lesson applies mathematical concepts to a local environmental issue.

Written in collaboration with Jennifer M. DeBruyn, a Tennessee educator, as part of our e-STEM for Tennessee’s Teachers program. 

This project is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee.