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Topic 4 - Biodiversity and

Natural Resources
By Sarah Newman
4.1: know that over time the variety of life has become extensive but is now being
threatened by human activity

Human activity comes under the term anthropogenic and due to our greed and other
actions, we are constantly polluting the air, sea and ground which is very quickly having
a detrimental effect on the environment. As a result biodiversity is increasing globally
4.2: Understand the terms biodiversity and endemism

● Know how biodiversity can be measured within a habitat using species richness
and within a species using genetic diversity by calculating the heterozygosity

H = number of heterozygotes
Number of individuals in
the population
● Understand how biodiversity can be compared in different habitats using a
formula to calculate index of diversity:

D = N(N-1)
That was a long spec point...
Biodiversity - There are sort of three different types of diversity that all come under the
umbrella term of biodiversity and they are:

● Genetic diversity - the variety of alleles in a species

● Species diversity - the number of different species and the abundance of each
species in an area
● Ecological diversity - the variety between different habitats

Endemism - when a species is unique to a single place and isn’t found anywhere else in
the world

Species Richness - this is a way of measuring species diversity and here you identify the
number of different species within a community
Diversity continued...
Species evenness relates to species richness and its the abundance of different species
in a given habitat. So while species richness can be found by counting the number of
species in a community, species evenness counts the number of species as well as the
individuals within a species

High species richness + high species evenness = high diversity

Genetic diversity can be measured using the heterozygosity index:

H= number of heterozygotes / number of individuals in the population

The higher the heterozygosity index, the more genetically diverse the species is as there
is a greater number of alleles in the gene pool

Genetic diversity can also be measured directly through DNA sequencing to determine
the bases in a segment of DNA and thus which alleles are present.
Tiny bit more on genetic diversity...
● In all organisms that reproduce sexually, every individual has unique combination
of alleles (genetic diversity)
● The greater the variety of genotypes, the more genetically diverse the population.
● Genetic diversity allows populations to adapt to changing conditions
● If population declines, some alleles may be lost and the genetic diversity
● Meiosis = genetic variation
● Random mutations = genetic variation
Index of diversity
N = total number of organisms of all species

n = total number of organisms of each species

This takes into account species richness and evenness

The index of diversity ranges from 0 - 1. A value of 1 means the area has a very high
biodiversity. Maintaining this diversity is important for ecological,economic and
aesthetic reasons.
Niche and Adaptations
4.3: Understand the concept of niche and be able to discuss examples of adaptation of
organisms to their environment (behavioural, physiological and anatomical)

Niche - the precise role an organism takes within an environment. Each species
occupies a niche and only one species can occupy a niche otherwise competition will
occur and those best adapted for that niche will survive

Other keywords which I’m just gonna throw in here:

● Community - the populations of different species living in an ecosystem

● Population - group of individuals of the same species living in a habitat
● Species - a group of organisms with similar morphology, physiology and behaviour
which can interbreed to produce fertile offspring
Behavioural - any actions that organisms do to help them survive and reproduce e.g
plants turn their leaves towards the sun to photosynthesise

Physiological - features of the inner workings of organisms that help them to survive
and reproduce e.g Danish scurvy grass has a physiological condition that helps tolerate
salty conditions

Anatomical - physical structures that we can see when we observe or dissect an

organism that helps them to survive and reproduce e.g bodies of bumblebees show
adaptations used to collect pollen and nectar

What about co-adaptation?

When two organisms become dependent of each other and more and more closely
adapted e.g insects and plants - the plant and pollinator and dependent of each other
Natural Selection
4.4: Understand how natural selection can lead to adaptation and evolution

Natural selection - the way organisms change over time to adapt to their environment

Evolution - a change in the frequency of alleles over time. For natural selection to lead
to evolution, there has to be some genetic variation within a population

As a population increases in size, a greater proportion of individuals will die or fail to

reproduce owing to competition for resources. The individuals that win this fight for
survival will possess some characteristic that gave them an advantage - this is called
natural selection. Natural selection is the mechanism by which a species may change
over time
Evolution - How does it occur?
● Variation exists within a species through RANDOM GENETIC MUTATIONS, which
form new alleles
● Meiosis mixes up existing allele combinations
● Change in environment causes a change in the selection pressure
● Which causes a change in allele success
● Some alleles are favourable and some are harmful
● Organisms with favourable alleles survive and reproduce, forming fertile offspring,
those who have the harmful allele do not
● Inheritance of the favourable allele occurs, increasing the frequency of that allele
in the next generation

If the environment remains stable then organisms may simply become better adapted
to their niche but if the environment changes then selection changes too
Gene Pools
A gene pool consists of all the alleles of all the genes present in a population. The
concept of a gene pool is useful when thinking about the biodiversity and adaptability
of species.

Populations with a bigger gene pool ie more different alleles of each gene are said to
have greater genetic diversity. They are more likely to possess alleles that will allow
them to survive.

The ability of a population to adapt to new conditions will depend on:

● Strength of the selection pressure

● Size of the gene pool
● Reproductive rate of the organism
Hardy- Weinberg
4.5: Understand how the Hardy Weinberg equation can be used to see whether a
change in allele frequency is occurring in a population over time

Understand that reproductive isolation can lead to accumulation of different genetic

information in populations, potentially leading to the formation of new species
More Hardy- Weinberg
The Hardy-Weinberg equation related phenotype frequencies to allele frequencies:

Frequency of homozygous dominant individuals = p²

Frequency of heterozygous individuals = 2pq

Frequency of homozygous dominant individuals = q²

If we know the frequency of a phenotype in a population, usually the recessive

phenotype, we can use the Hardy Weinberg equation to calculate the frequency of each
allele and the three genotypes

The other equation to use it p+q=1 where p is the frequency of the dominant allele and
q is the frequency of the recessive allele
Production of a new species...
In order for a new species to form, part of an existing population must become
reproductively isolated from another part. This usually happens when a barrier comes
between two or more parts of an existing population. Over time, natural selection may
cause the different parts of the population to change to such an extent that they can no
longer interbreed to produce fertile offspring and this makes them two or more
different species. The development of a new species is speciation
4.6: Understand that classification is a means of organising the variety of life based on
relationships between organisms using differences and similarities in phenotypes and
in genotypes, and is built around the species concept

Understand the process and importance of critical evaluation of new data by the
scientific community, which leads to new taxonomic groupings, including the three
domains of life based on molecular phylogeny, which are Bacteria, Archaea, Eukaryota

Biodiversity refers to the variety of life and in particular, the wealth of different species
that exists as a result of evolution by natural selection. Once biodiversity has been
mapped to reveal patterns in diversity, this can help focus conservation efforts on
vulnerable habitats or species. Classification is a way of thinking about biodiversity and
it enables us to look at evolutionary relationships
● All organisms are given a scientific name (2 part latin name)
● Binomial system:
● Kingdom eg animalia, fungi, plantae, protoctista, prokaryotae
● Phylum
● Chordata
● Order
● Family
● Genus
● Species
Three domains of life
● Carl Woese - defined the evolutionary relationships of prokaryotes by pioneering
RNA sequencing of bacteria
● Used sequences to construct phylogenies of groups of bacteria but one group
lacked the characteristic sequences of bacteria
● This group of bacteria had no peptidoglycan in their walls and they had membrane
lipids different to eukaryotes and other bacteria - they were new category of
organisms - the Archaea
● Woese published this theory and other scientists repeated his experiment as part
of the peer review process. This helps to detect invalid claims and adds weight to
valid ones
● New system of classification occurred after this - a phylogenetic tree based on the
three domains; archaea, bacteria and the eukaryota.
Plant cells 4.7: Know the ultrastructure of plant cells (cell walls,
chloroplasts, amyloplasts, vacuole, tonoplast, plasmodesmata,
pits and middle lamella) and be able to compare with animal
Inside a plant cell...
Cell Wall:

● A rigid structure that surrounds plant cells

● Made mainly of cellulose
● Supports plant cells


● Small flattened structure with a double membrane

● Inside there are thylakoid membranes in stacks called grana
● Site of photosynthesis, some reactions take place in the grana, other parts take
place in the stroma (liquid contents of chloroplast)
Inside a plant cell...

● Compartment of cell sap surrounded by membrane

● Cell sap made up of water, minerals and waste products.
● Keep cell turgid, stop plants from wilting
● Breakdown and isolate unwanted chemicals


● Membrane surrounding the vacuole

● Helps contain all the minerals, preventing them from leaking


● Contains starch granules and provides storage of starch grains. They also convert
starch back to glucose for release
Still in the plant cell...

● Channels in the cell wall that link adjacent walls

● Allow transport of substances
● Communicate between other cells


● Regions of cell wall where it is very thin

● Arranged in pairs (adjacent to other cells)
● Allow transport of substances between cells

Middle Lamella

● The outermost layer of the cells

● Acts as an adhesive sticking adjacent cells together (Made of pectin)
Electron microscope images
4.8: Be able to recognise the organelles in 4.7 from electron microscope images

Cell Wall: Chloroplasts:

EM images
Vacuole Tonoplast:
EM images
Pits : Middle Lamella:
Starch and Cellulose
4.9: Understand the structure and function of the polysaccharides starch and cellulose,
including the role of hydrogen bonds between beta glucose molecules in the formation
of cellulose microfibrils


● Main storage polysaccharide in plants

● Made up of amylose and amylopectin
● Amylose = 1.4 glycosidic bonds
● Amylopectin = 1.4 and 1.6 glycosidic bonds
● Insoluble therefore good for storage
● Helix is compact
● Branches mean that compound is easily hydrolysed
Starch and Cellulose
● Made up of long unbranched chains of beta glucose joined by 1,4 glycosidic bonds.
Between 100 and 1000 cellulose chains are linked together by a large number of
hydrogen bonds to form microfibrils
● Beta glucose, with its hydroxyl group inversion causes a zigzag, facilitating the
formation of hydrogen bonds - this is known as cross linking
● Microfibrils are stuck together by a polysaccharide ‘glue’ made from short
branched polysaccharides called hemicelluloses and pectins.
4.10: Understand how the arrangement of cellulose microfibrils and secondary
thickening in plant cell walls contributes to the physical properties of xylem vessels and
sclerenchyma fibres in plant fibres that can be exploited by humans

Cellulose microfibrils are laid down in bundles of about 60-70 cellulose molecules. The
layers are laid down at angles to each other and stuck together with pectin This
arrangement makes the cell wall strong and flexible thus meaning that plant fibres
have excellent qualities for use by humans as well

● Plant fibres like sclerenchyma fibres and xylem vessels are made up of long tubes.
● Ropes or fabrics can be made from plant fibres as they are very strong. This
strength comes from the net-like arrangement of microfibrils in the cell wall.
● Secondary thickening (a cell wall between normal cell and the cell membrane
formed during the later part of plant growth) also makes plant fibres strong as it
contains more lignin.
Sclerenchyma, xylem and phloem
4.11: Know the similarities and differences between the structures, position in the stem
and function of sclerenchyma fibres (support), xylem vessels (support and transport of
water and mineral ions) and phloem (translocation of organic solutes)

A plant stem is made up of xylem vessels, sclerenchyma fibres and phloem tissue.
● Xylem vessels helps to transport water and minerals up the plant.
● They are long uninterrupted tube (with pits ) made up of tube like structures joined
end to end, arranged in columns
● Lignin in the walls help to support the plant so is present in xylem and sclerenchyma
● Sclerenchyma fibres provide support so they have more cellulose
● They are also long and tube-like with thickening of lignin in their walls but they have
no pits and are arranged in columns
Sclerenchyma, phloem and xylem
Phloem tissue transports organic solutes (translocation).
● It contains sieve tube elements (living cell that lacks nucleus) that join to form sieve
● End walls at the joining areas contains holes. Companion cells provide energy
transport to sieve elements as they lack nucleus.

Lignin - is a waxy waterproof compound by the way

Little bit about the transpiration stem:

When water is lost from the leaves, it moves by osmosis across the leaf from cell-to-cell
all the way from the xylem. When molecules of water leave the xylem to enter a cell by
osmosis, this creates tension in the column of water in the xylem. This tension is
transmitted down in the roots. Due to cohesion of water molecules.
Water and inorganic ions
4.12: Understand the importance of water and inorganic ions (nitrate, calcium ions and
magnesium ions) to plants


Needed by plants for photosynthesis, regulating temperature, maintaining structural

rigidity and for transporting minerals.


Used to make amino acids and therefore proteins. Proteins needed to make essential
enzymes. Also, nitrates are needed to make DNA and many hormones
When plants lack nitrates, their older leaves turn yellow and die along with stunted
Inorganic ions

Combine with pectin in middle lamellae to produce calcium pectate which holds plant
cells together. They also play a role in cell permeability.

When plants lack calcium, growing points dieback and young leaves are yellow and


Needed to produce chlorophyll and synthesise certain nucleic acids, when plants lack
magnesium, yellow areas develop on older leaves
Drug Testing
4.13:Understand the development of drug testing from historic to contemporary
protocol, including William Withering digitalis soup, double blind trials, placebo, three
phased testing

William Withering:

Drug testing in the past was less scientific and more dangerous.
● William Withering discovered that to treat dropsy, extract of foxgloves can be use,
which contain the drug digitalis.He made a chance observation that his patients that
had too much digitalis were poisoned, while too little had no effect. Therefore by trial
and error he came to know the right amount to give.
Drug Testing
Three phased Testing:

Modern drug testing is much more controlled and scientific. Drugs are tested on live
animals or human tissues in a lab.Three phases of testing are used.
Phase 1 involves testing the drug on healthy individuals to find if there are any side
Phase 2 involves testing the drug on large numbers of patients.
Phase 3 involves testing the drug on thousands of patients by dividing them into two
groups, one group is gets the existing drug treatment and another gets the new drug
treatment. The results are compared.
Drug Testing
Double Blind:

When neither patient or Doctor knows whose been given the placebo or the new drug
so this allows no bias


Inactive substances that look like a drug but they show no effects on the
patient, however because the patient thinks they are getting treatment, they show
improvement. In phase 2, two group of patients are observed for the results. One is
given the new drug and the other placebos.The comparison of results show how
effective the new drug is.
Bacterial Growth
4.14: Understand conditions required for bacterial growth

Conditions required for bacterial growth

● Source of nutrients for respiration and growth.
● Supply of oxygen if they are aerobic.
● Appropriate temperature and pH for the normal working of enzymes involved in
metabolic processes.
Plant fibres and sustainability
4.15: Understand the uses of plant fibres and starch may contribute to sustainability,
including plant-based products to replace oil based plastics

Plant fibres have been used for years to make ropes, clothes etc due to their high
tensile strength. Fibres are traditionally extracted using a process called retting which
occurred through natural decomposition, now this is sped up by chemicals.

Synthetic fibres have been made which are long lasting and cheap but they weren’t
breathable and the products used to make these were from non sustainable sources

Plant fibres are sustainable because they are made from renewable sources and they
absorb carbon dioxide
Plastics are synthetic monomers, which are produced from oil based products but they
cause a lot of environmental issues like pollution and waste removal issues as they are
non biodegradable.

Nowadays, bioplastics are being considered, which are based on starch and cellulose.
They are sustainable and biodegradable
Zoos and Seed Banks
4.16: Be able to evaluate the methods used by zoos and seedbanks in the conservation
of endangered species and their genetic diversity, including scientific research, captive
breeding programmes, reintroduction programmes and education

Protecting species in their natural habitat is called in situ or on site conservation.

National parks, wildlife reserves and marine conservation zones have been established
in which human activity is restricted or controlled. It also includes protecting the
habitat that allows organisms to live continuously in their natural habitat.
Protecting a species by removing part of the population from the natural habitat and
placing it in a new location is called ex situ or off site conservation.
Zoos and Seed Banks
Seed banks (seeds are frozen to make them available for future when natural sources
are not available) are established to conserve biodiversity.
Relocating an organism to a safer area and captivity breeding (in the zoo) are other
ways to protect animals.
Seed banks can be used by scientist to grow endangered species for scientific research
and they can also learn how plant species can be grown successfully from seeds.
Various nutritional and reproductive studies can be carried out in zoo, which are not
possible in wild areas.
Zoos help to educate people about the importance of wildlife in addition to their
Seed banks also educate people how to grow plants from seeds by setting up local seed
Problems with captive breeding and reintroduction:
> There isn’t enough space or resources in zoos for all endangered species
> Reintroduction programmes are very expensive and time consuming and they may
> Unless the reason for animals being pushed to the brink of extinction is removed,
reintroduction to the wild will be unsuccessful
> It is difficult to provide the right conditions for animals to breed, some are reluctant
> The gene pool of animals held may be reduced
> Animals that have been bred in captivity may struggle to adapt to living unsupported
in the wild