How does the data for the present compare to past extinction events?

Published by Jeannie R. Ferrell

Dec 8, 2022


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Let’s get comfortable using this tool first. 

Click, hold, and drag to rotate the planet.
Click, hold, and drag down the horizontal silver slider on the timeline; watch what happens to the planet and the data indicators as you move backward and forward in time.
Position the silver timeline slider at 0 MYA (top of the timeline). Click on the left “play” button at the bottom of the timeline; watch what happens. When the silver bar stops at the bottom, click on the right “play” button and watch again.
Position the silver timeline slider at 0 MYA. Click on “Charts” at the bottom of the screen.
Choose a chart. Now click on the left “play” button at the bottom of the timeline.
Watch what happens on your chosen chart as the slider moves down the timeline.
Click “pause” before the slider reaches the bottom of the timeline. Note that your chosen chart will show a demarcation in the data for that point in time.
Close your chart in EarthViewer by clicking on the “X” in the upper right-hand corner.

Make sure the timeline displays 0–540 million years and then click on “View” at the bottom of the screen; turn on “Mass Extinctions.” Click “View” again to minimize the menu.
Note the five yellow triangles that appear on the right side of the timeline. These correspond to mass extinctions.
Gather data in your notebook: Drag the slider to the Ordovician extinction, 440 MYA. Use the EarthViewer features to fill in the following chart. For Biodiversity, you will need to move the slider carefully and record the number of marine genera present just before (the peak in the chart before biodiversity slopes steeply down) and just after the extinction event (the bottom of the valley before the biodiversity slope moves upwards again). Gather data in the same manner for the remaining four mass extinctions.
We will explore 3 mass extinctions:  Ordovician, Permian and Cretaceous.
We will look at Temperature,  Carbon Dioxide and Biodiversity.
You can draw the table below or use the worksheet.
Do you notice any patterns or correlations from the data in your chart? Does any of the data suggest an explanation for the occurrence of a mass extinction?
Calculate the percentage of genera lost in each past extinction event: #genera just after/#genera just before
OrdovicianDevonianPermianTriassicCretaceous% Genera lost
How does the data for the present compare to past extinction events?
What trends do you see in the biodiversity graph after each mass extinction event? How would you explain this observation?
Local Conservation Organizations
The work of conserving species, actually creating and/or saving habitat, often times happens at the local level. Local groups, non-profits, or city, county, or state programs, are working to set aside habitat space, protect sensitive habitats from destruction, monitoring species populations, and restore habitat to a better state. This problem of species extinction seems massive, and it is, but it’s actions that occur in cities and neighborhoods, with the help of the community, that when added together end up having a large impact on maintaining and protecting habitat space for species. 
Research a conservation organization which functions in or near PARAMOUNT CALIFORNIA  In a discussion post, provide the following information:
Name of the organization and their website
Location where they work (city or county, ideally)
The mission of this organization
Main projects/activities they partake in to achieve this mission
Ways that members of the community can get involved
Why did this organization interest you?


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