Biodiversity

History of Big Sand Mound Nature Preserve | Iowa Land and Sky

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With 510 acres, Big Sand Mound is home to undisturbed prairies, shallow ponds and woodlands, and it has the highest concentration of threatened and endangered species in the state. Of more than 400 different plants at the site, 80 percent are native. The preserve is jointly owned by MidAmerican Energy Company and Monsanto Company, with MidAmerican Energy owning 420 acres and Monsanto owning 90. Dr. Thomas Rosburg, professor of ecology and biology at Drake University, explains the geological history and unique biodiversity of the Big Sand Mound Nature Preserve in Muscatine, Iowa.

Career Video: Keith Geluso — Vertibrate Ecologist | Platte Basin Education

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Vertebrate ecologist Keith Geluso studies the distribution and number of species in an ecosystem. He is collecting valuable data to map biodiversity on the Switzer Ranch, which will help inform conservation and rangeland management decisions. Of particular interest to Geluso is the Ord’s kangaroo rat, which prefers an arid, sandy grassland habitat. The Switzer Ranch, situated on the eastern edge of the Sandhills, is ideal habitat for this species. The kangaroo rat primarily feeds on seeds. 

As an ecologist, Geluso studies how these animals move seeds around the landscape. Kangaroo rats gather seeds in their fur-lined external cheek pouches, but cannot eat all at once the seeds that they collect, so they distribute them in small caches or piles buried in the sand to save for later. Often they lose track of these seeds and unintentionally plant them, which contributes to the overall plant biodiversity and productivity of the prairie. The new plants will grow and feed more kangaroo rats and many other organisms—and the cycle will begin again.

Mussel Reproduction Process | Iowa Land and Sky

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There are many and varied mussels species in the state Mussels use a host a fish as part of their reproduction process Each mussel species uses a different host fish and because of that uses a different strategy to attract the host fish they use.

River Rewilding: Macro Identification

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In this video, a high school teacher and her students demonstrate how to use macros to explore water quality.

The Importance of Freshwater Mussels | Iowa Land and Sky

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Freshwater mussels are historically a cornerstone species to Iowa's ecosystems. While industry and modern life has threatened their existence, they continue to be a valuable resource to every organism that calls Iowa home. 

Paws for a Minute | Linne’s Two-Toed Sloth

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Learn about linne’s two-toed sloths — where they live in the wild, features of their habitat, and how their specific physical features and feeding behaviors help them survive. (This original, one-minute video was produced by Rhode Island PBS, in association with Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island.) 

Find more Paws for a Minute videos in our Collection.

Watershed | Episode 3: Fishes' Brew

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Water is used in every step of the beer making process, but only a small amount makes it into the bottle. The impact of the craft beer industry on water resources is an industry-wide concern. Meet the brewmeisters of Baere Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado, and the founder of the Rare Fish Rare Beer Project as they team up to give back to the resource and raise awareness about the endangered fish species that inhabit their watershed.

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Human Activities That Threaten Biodiversity | Biodiversity Course

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Human activities and population growth threaten biodiversity in almost every corner of our planet. Local threats to species richness include land-use changes, pollution, resource exploitation, and invasive species.

Habitat Earth

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Discover what it means to live in today’s connected world with Habitat Earth, an award-winning film that takes viewers on a journey through the vast networks of life on Earth. You'll learn how life changes our planet—and how we benefit from our connections to the life that surrounds us.

Big Pacific: Mysterious

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Explore the long-held behaviors that make the olive ridley sea turtle, pufferfish, horseshoe crab, and bioluminescent firely squid such unique members of the Pacific Ocean's vast and varied ecosystems.

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