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Investigating the effects of urbanization on bird biodiversity: Testing three biodiversity hypotheses using citizen science data

Author(s): Jennifer Kovacs1, Ebony Gaillard2

1. Spelman College 2. University of North Carolina

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Students generate predictions and test three hypotheses about how biodiversity is affected by urbanization over time using citizen science generated bird count data and land use data from 13 locations in Florida over a 10 year time span


Urbanization can affect biodiversity in a variety of ways, including habitat loss and fragmentation and the introduction of non-native species. In this module, students will use bird counts (eBird) and land use data (LandSat) to test three hypotheses about urbanization and its effect on biodiversity. Students first generate testable predictions for the productivity hypothesis (Luck et al. 2004), the ecosystem stress hypothesis (Rapport et al 1985), and the intermediate disturbance hypothesis (Connell 1978). Using Google Sheets, students then calculate Shannon’s Diversity Indices for 13 different locations at two different time points ten years apart. By combining these data with measures of land use for each location at each time point, students are able to graphically and statistically evaluate the three assigned biodiversity hypotheses. This module is presented as a guided inquiry module, though the provided dataset could serve as the basis for more open-ended inquiry and extended projects.

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