WEBCAST: Island Biodiversity- Tracking Human Influences

Watch the archive of the webcast featuring Dr. Torben Rick. In the show, Torben talks about the impacts early inhabitants of North America had on island and coastal ecosystems.

Smithsonian Science How: Island Biodiversity - Tracking Human Influences 

Featuring Archaeologist Torben Rick

Meet Dr. Torben Rick, an archaeologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Join him in analyzing archaeological evidence of human life on islands. Look back over thousands of years of influence of humans on the West Coast (Channel Islands) and East Coast (Chesapeake Bay). See how changing environmental conditions interacted with human lifestyles to shape the biodiversity of the islands. Follow Torrey as he uses radiocarbon-dating of bones, DNA analysis, and other techniques to tackle elusive questions such as how foxes arrived in the Channel Islands. Find out how archaeological information can help manage island ecosystems today. 

Watch a recording of the Nov. 6, 2014, webcast using the video player above. The show aligns with national science standards.

How do you participate in the webcast?

1. WATCH the archive video above

2. Get TEACHING RESOURCES for the webcast

3. Design an ASSESSMENT for your students


The Island Biodiversity Webcast Package supports students in meeting the middle school NGSS Performance Expectations listed below by offering a set of resources that integrate science concepts with science practice skills.

MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity

  • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment
  • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems

MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

  • MS-LS2-1 Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem
  • MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems
  • MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations
  • MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services


People, Places, and Environments

  • The study of people, places, and environments enables us to understand the relationship between human populations and the physical world
  • During their studies, learners develop an understanding of spatial perspectives, and examine changes in the relationship between peoples, places and environments