Undergraduates in ecology and conservation biology courses often lack a clear understanding of how to do fieldwork and utilize data analysis to answer complex questions. This is unfortunate, because with proper training these students could identify and address some of today's most pressing environmental issues. I present a simple, problem-based learning activity that provides students a new approach to understanding two important topics in the environmental sciences — how biodiversity is distributed across landscapes and how habitat loss can affect this biodiversity. This activity helps students explore foundational concepts in biology, enables them to collect data in a simplistic field setting, and introduces them to statistical analyses and modeling. In addition, it also teaches students how to ask questions, synthesize data, and address an issue using the same approaches that conservation practitioners utilize in the real world.
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Vol. 78 • No. 9