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Endemic species in school curriculums

Discussion in 'Zoo Cafe' started by Onychorhynchus coronatus, 9 Oct 2020.

  1. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I was talking to day with a friend of mine in the Dominican Republic who was telling me that schools now commonly teach children about Hispaniola's endemic species such as the Solenodon. Needless to say, I find this sort of environmental education being implemented early on particularly impressive.

    I was wondering whether schools around the world have been or are currently doing the same and I thought I'd ask zoochatters about this.

    So is raising awareness of endemic species part of the school curriculum where you are from ?

    Did you learn about the endemic species of your country while at school ?
     
    Last edited: 9 Oct 2020
  2. Tetzoo Quizzer

    Tetzoo Quizzer Well-Known Member

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    As a recently retired Biology teacher, the amount of specific information that UK Biologists need about any named species - absolutely zero! Ok, we are not exactly slewing with endemics here, but over the years, the amount of “whole organism” biology has got less and less. As an example, at one stage, the 16 year exam (GCSE) specification included mussels as an example of filter-feeding, but there was no other mention of molluscs at all! No question was ever asked, and it was dropped the next time the course was revised. I always put in examples such as Scottish Crossbills in discussing speciation, but that was simply my choice of exemplar material. In the last year however, there has been quite a drive to include a Natural History qualification at GCSE, and proposals are being drawn up, but it will only be a qualification studied by a tiny minority.
     
  3. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    True but there are a couple out there like the Scottish crossbill that you've mentioned and there is a critically endangered spider both critically endangered and with an awesome name the "horrid ground-weaver".

    That is brilliant that you put this example of an endemic bird species into the curriculum (brilliant example to use by the way) and I do hope that the former students may still remember that this is a species found only in the UK.

    I agree that it is a very good idea to have a Natural History GCSE to study optionally (especially as natural history itself has been on the decline ) but discouraging that it is likely to only be studied by a few curious students.

    I do feel there needs to be a resurgence of natural history lessons in schools worldwide but perhaps the rise in popularity / mainstreaming of watching natural history documentaries for young people may go some way to influencing schools to include more of these lessons.
     
    Last edited: 9 Oct 2020
  4. Tetzoo Quizzer

    Tetzoo Quizzer Well-Known Member

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    Pleased to confirm that the most recent news about the Horrid Ground Weaver is that it’s population seems stable or rising, and that a threat of development has been averted; it is in an area where the local government takes responsibility for a local rare tree, the Plymouth Pear, seriously. Incidentally, I have two rare endemic trees growing in my garden, there are a cluster of Sorbus species in the UK of varying rarity (one only has three known individuals, or rather 2 as a seedling was eaten by a deer!) A few years ago, four of the species were made available from a Botanic garden where I used to live, so I got two of them; one only has about 40 trees in its sole wild locality.
     
  5. Yoshistar888

    Yoshistar888 Well-Known Member

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    Here in Melbourne I guess I’ll say what the curriculum is concerning animals, from years prep to 10 only three have an animal component, usually less than a term and not even concentrated on the animals themselves.

    In year five (Inquiry) animal adaptations are taught at a very basic level, not much education into specific animals.

    Year 7 (Science) is about animal classification, the only specific animals explored are Australian ABC’s (Koalas, Kangaroos etc).

    Year 10 (Biology) touches on evolution with no specific animals explored. This subject is not compulsory.



    Biology in schools almost exclusively focuses on Genetics, Body Systems and Cells because these are the ‘jobs of the future’.
     
  6. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    That is brilliant to hear ! Sure it is a tiny species and one that most people would much rather crush under their shoe but it occurs nowhere else and its great that it is now ok (for the time being).

    Are there captive breeding programs for this species in zoos by the way ?

    That is awesome ! What are the names of these tree species ? and are they growing well in your garden ?

    When I read about one of the seedlings being eaten by a deer my immediate thought was what a shame that there aren't any wolves left to keep their numbers down and that a reintroduction probably wouldn't be feasible.

    I'm sure that deer overpopulation was probably a contributing factor to the decline of this tree species, right?
     
    Last edited: 9 Oct 2020
  7. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    You guys down under have a lot of endemics to choose from when it comes to these sorts of education programes.

    It seems (at least to me as someone looking in) that even with the basic classes that you describe these have really helped in some ways to make the public more aware and supportive of conservation issues and to value endemic species.

    I really wish that something like this could be implemented in Brazil but a lot of NGO's do visit schools and give talks and things like that (it would be good if it happened more though).

    Are there ever classes that specifically cover the extinction of native species or critically endangered species ?
     
    Last edited: 9 Oct 2020
  8. Yoshistar888

    Yoshistar888 Well-Known Member

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    There are occasional components that cover the extinction of one particular native species. The koala.

    The average Australian does not care at all for wildlife conservation, most claim they do, but they only care about one singular animal, the Koala.

    The general public nearly destroyed a part of South West Victoria by heavily protesting against koala culls in the area, the government caved in and the koalas were still there, eating every single eucalyptus leave. Koalas in large numbers are extremely detrimental to eucalypt ecosystems, as the rapidly multiply and eat the whole environment, once the leaves are gone all the koalas starve to death and the bush regrows until new koalas emerge into an area.

    Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for the Koalas of Kangaroo Island, a place where Koalas are invasive too, yet I can safely say that no one even thought about the rest of the islands fauna.

    Australia is so koala-centric it’s detrimental.
     
  9. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I never knew about this koala-centrism in Australian conservation and I always assumed that there was in comparison with other countries a more even and level headed approach to conserving all or most of the mammalian biodiversity in the country / continent.

    However, I know the christmas island pipistrelle and the mosaic tailed rat are examples that seem to suggest otherwise though.

    Would you say that the koala is kind of like the "Australian panda" in this sense ?
     
  10. Tetzoo Quizzer

    Tetzoo Quizzer Well-Known Member

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    The real rarity is Sorbus bristoliensis, and it is a very healthy 6 m specimen. Need to check up which of a number of possibilities the other one is; I am in the process of doing some tidying up and cutting back other shrubs around it. As for the other species; it is a recently arisen form on the Isle of Arran, and likely that there have only ever been these 3 germinated seeds. I think it is a hexaploid hybrid, so not able to cross with its parents, which are themselves rarities, and restricted to one or two valleys. Basically the group (whitebeams) has speciated in a couple of areas of the UK, and the main conservation thrust is to maintain the areas to allow the process, rather than worry about survival of every possible form.
     
  11. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    The Bristol whitebream, hmmmm.

    I had never heard of it until now (but I admit I do have a bit of "plant blindness" that I'm trying to correct), you learn something new everyday.

    It is apparently listed as being an endangered species by the IUCN and is limited to only a few hundred individuals in the wild.

    I can definitely see why the plant that you have is a treasure and I hope it continues to grow and remain healthy.
     
  12. Tetzoo Quizzer

    Tetzoo Quizzer Well-Known Member

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    The other, rarer one is Wilmott’s Whitebeam.
     
  13. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    A critically endangered species according to the IUCN and also apparently found only in the Avon gorge, so it seems that this area of the UK is an area of quite high levels of tree endemism (by UK standards).
     
  14. Tetzoo Quizzer

    Tetzoo Quizzer Well-Known Member

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    Yes. Current score is 9 endemic species there I believe. When I lived in Bristol, I had a room in the Botanic Gardens where some of the trees were grown, and walked past Leigh Woods every day.
     
  15. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    If I was you I would have a rifle with a Leica scope on hand for any hungry deer that could potentially wander into the garden. :D

    I've been to Bristol but unfortunately have never been to the Bristol botanical gardens which is on the University campus apparently but it looks like it has a really decent collection of plants from different biomes.
     
  16. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    I never took the the normal Common Core high school level biology class, but from what I understand it focuses almost entirely on human biology and evolution with little talk of ecosystems at all.
     
  17. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    That is more than a little disappointing, so anthropocentric !