The during the Cretaceous period. Natural World

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The Grenada Dove is listed as critically endangered on the official IUCN Red List. A 2013 survey estimated there to be approximately 160 individuals left in the wild. It is native to Grenada in the Lesser Antilles.


Leptotila wellsi. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2018, from

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1)    Name a species considered to be Near Threatened by the IUCN and provide some justification for its status.


Madagascar Sparrowhawk is listed as near threatened by the IUCN due to a rapid fall in population caused by habitat destruction and degradation.


Accipiter madagascariensis . (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2018, from



2)    When did Tyrannosaurus rex become extinct?


65 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.


Natural World 4 min read. (n.d.). Tyrannosaurus rex. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from


3)    Name three species endemic to the Philippines.


Tamaru (Anoa mindorensis), Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) and the Philippine warty pig (Sus philippensis).


Borlaza, G. C., & Cullinane, M. (2017, September 19). Philippines. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from


Lamoreux, J. (n.d.). Philippines. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from


4)    Name a global biodiversity hotspot recognised primarily for its plant diversity


The Tropical Andes. It contains roughly “one-sixth of all plant life in less than 1% of the planets land area.”


Biodiversity Hotspots. (Para 31) (n.d.). Conservation International. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from



5)    Give an example of an intangible value which can be attributed to the natural world


Religious or cultural sites such as the one found in Nagoya, Japan often hold high levels of biodiversity as well as cultural significance and history to the indigenous people who live there. They have a spiritual value than cannot be quantified or measured which therefore makes it intangible.


Sacred Natural Sites, Conserving Nature and Culture. (2016, December 23). Retrieved January 15, 2018, from


6)     There are three main definitions of what a “species” is. Explain what these are and why their differences are important to conservation.


Biological species concept (BSC) defines ‘species’ as groups of reproductively isolated organisms that are definitively or potentially interbreeding with each other. This is similar to the Evolutionary species concept (ESC), which focuses on lineage and defines ‘species’ as a group of organisms that maintain their identity from other lineages as well having unique evolutionary traits. Phylogenetic species concept (PSC) is similar to both BSC and ESC as it defines species, as the smallest identifiable collection of individual organisms within which there is a pattern of ancestry in the line of the parents of the offspring in that group. Which definition you use to define ‘species’ impacts the way that the conservation efforts for that species are carried out. For example using the Biological concept for species means that less financial effort has to go into conserving two separate populations as they are both the same species, whereas if scientists used the phylogenetic definition for species then they would be classified as separate species and therefore more resources would be required to set up two separate conservation efforts for the two individual species. Using the evolutionary definition of species would mean that even the smallest change in genotype or phenotype would constitute the immergence of a new species and therefore separate conservation efforts would need to be implemented for that small group.




Abbott, R. J., Ritchie, M. G., & Hollingsworth, P. M. (2008, September 27). Introduction. Speciation in plants and animals: pattern and process. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from


7)    Provide an example of how genetic diversity is important for conservation.


Species with a population that have low genetic diversity are more vulnerable and at risk from changes in environmental pressure, such as a new disease. Without the necessary diversity of genes, individuals within a population are closer to being genetically identical and therefore cannot produce young with varying genes and traits that could allow for possible adaptation to the threat and therefore survival. This is important for conservationists to take into account when looking at the potential status of a population and assessing its ability to adapt and overcome environmental pressures.


A case study was done on a group of cheetahs at an Oregon breeding colony. Cheetahs are known to currently have very low genetic variation within their populations. After being exposed to a potentially deadly feline virus roughly 50% of the population was killed as it spread throughout the group. The lion population in the reserve however, which was known to have much high genetic variation than the cheetahs, never even showed development of any symptoms. It is possible that because the cheetahs had lower genetics variation within their population that their immune system didn’t have the necessary gene variants to combat and defeat the disease. This shows that genetic variation is important for conservation as without high levels of it within a population the chances of an environmental pressure affecting and decimating a populations numbers is much higher and therefore makes it harder for the species to grow in population and thrive.


Conservation Genetics. (2014). Retrieved 15 January 2018, from


Low genetic variation. (2016). Retrieved 15 January 2018, from



8)    Ecologists use many models to explain speciation. Describe and explain pattern-based models of speciation and provide an example.


Models of speciation are used to define and explain the process by which populations of organisms become their own distinct species. There are four main models put forward to explain speciation, differing from each other based on the degree to which the populations in question are isolated from other groups. Allopatric speciation states that a single population of organisms can be split into geographically isolated groups due to geographical changes in the landscape, such as the destruction or fragmentation of the habitat. These two groups then undergo seperate genotypic and/or phenotypic changes due to the different selective pressures in their new habitat. When these two groups eventually reunite, they are so genetically different that they are no longer reproductively viable for each other, and thus can be defined as a separate species to each other.


FITZPATRICK, B. M., FORDYCE, J. A., & GAVRILETS, S. (2009, September 03). Pattern, process and geographic modes of speciation. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from



9)     What is the difference between extinction and extirpation? Provide an example of each.


‘Extinction’ is defined, as when the population of a species becomes extinct worldwide meaning its entire genetic heritage is permanently gone. For example, the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) gradually became extinct across the planet roughly 10,000 years ago, after being unable to adapt to a rapid rise in environmental temperature caused by climate change, as well as overhunting by humans.


‘Extirpation’ or ‘local extinction’ is when a population of a species becomes extinct in a certain geographical area but populations of it can be found elsewhere on the planet. For example, grey wolves (Canis lupus) became officially extinct in Yellowstone Park in the United States of America in the 1920s after humans eradicated the population. They could however still be found in other regions of America, with a population still present in Alaska at the time.


W. (2011). Why Did the Woolly Mammoth Die Out? Retrieved 15 January 2018, from


Smith, D. W., Stahler, D. R., & Becker, M. S. (2008, November 14). Chapter 15 Wolf Recolonization of the Madison Headwaters Area in Yellowstone. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from













Section 2 (30%) – This section requires you to use a spreadsheet program (e.g. MS EXCEL) and R to perform some simple analyses on biodiversity data. The files required can be found on the Moodle space.


1)    Using the file called ‘Hilbre.csv’ to calculate species richness and species diversity for the bird communities at Hilbre Island and Caerlaverock. Justify the species diversity measure you choose to use. This question is worth 10 marks.

Hilbre Island – Species richness = 94

  Species Diversity = 0.783530835


Caerlaverock – Species richness = 92

  Species Diversity = 0.495911661


Justification for choice of diversity measure:


I used Simpsons Biodiversity index as the data contained within Hilbre and Caerlaverock had more common species of bird present than rare. Shannon’s biodiversity index has an intrinsic bias towards rare species while Simpsons favours common, which are more abundantly found in the species list. Therefore, I chose to use Simpsons Biodiversity Index to avoid the bias of Shannon’s Biodiversity Index affecting or skewing the results of my species richness and diversity calculations. 




2)    The file called ‘Papua.csv’ consists of records of mean hornbill abundance for two islands in Papua New Guinea. Use your preferred statistical software to perform a t-test on these data to test for a difference in abundance between natural forest and logged forest. This question is worth 20 marks.


What is the null hypothesis (H0) for this test?


There will be no difference in the mean abundance of Hornbills in both the natural and logged forests of the two islands in Papua New Guinea.


Report the results of this analysis in an appropriate way below:


t = 23.557, df = 181.08, p-value


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