Increasing Awareness of Invertebrate Importance

  • Location
    Lakeland, Florida
  • Status
  • Age Level
    8 to 10 Years
    11 to 13 Years
    19 to 25 Years

The Problem

Invertebrates make up over 95% of all animal diversity on our planet and provide crucial ecosystem services such as water quality management, soil aeration, habitat engineering, nutrient cycling, and much, much more! Despite their abundance and importance, invertebrates are often overlooked or viewed as unpopular or “scary” by the general public (Schuttler et al., 2019; Salvador et al., 2021). Studies have shown that school age children’s perceptions of biodiversity are largely focused on mammals and birds, with little recognition of the presence of invertebrates (Schuttler et al., 2019; Montgomery et al., 2022; Howlett & Turner, 2023). Furthermore, it has been found that the increasing dependence on textbook based learning has led to children having little familiarity or affection for their local wildlife (Schuttler et al., 2019). This has a direct impact on invertebrate conservation efforts, as the public’s lack of awareness and concern for the ongoing invertebrate biodiversity often means there are little to no funds available for such efforts. We hope to increase the awareness of the importance of invertebrates within our local community through student-led research and outreach efforts.

Our Plan

Florida Southern College’s Marine Invertebrate Zoology students will engage in a semester long project that will allow them to investigate the ecological importance of one or more marine or freshwater invertebrate species within the Lakeland or Tampa area. Students will choose a research question at the beginning of the semester and design an experiment which they will carry out themselves during the middle of the semester. Once they have gathered their results, they will create an engaging and interactive display that will give an overview of their experiment, results, and, most importantly, provide details on the role of their chosen invertebrate(s) in our local environment. These displays will include props, hands-on activities, and potentially even live animals! These displays will be presented at a local children’s museum and to middle school classrooms. This will increase local children’s engagement with nature-based content, which has been shown to not only increase their understanding of their local environment but also have positive impacts on their overall well-being (Montgomery et al., 2022)!

Themes Addressed

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    Biodiversity Loss
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    Climate Change
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The Benefit

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