Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will learn about biodiversity and the role keystone species play in the health of an ecosystem. They will then research the Black Summer Australian bushfires as a case study of an event that had significant biodiversity loss. Using the information learnt, they will write a letter to the government to convince them to enact change in how Australia manages the land and conserves biodiversity.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand the importance of biodiversity in an ecosystem
  • Students understand the important role a keystone species plays
  • Students understand the ecological impact of the Black Summer bushfires in Australia.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCritical ThinkingEmpathyGlobal Citizenship

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 9 Science

  • Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (ACSSU176
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS174)

Syllabus outcomes: SC5-9WS, SC5-14LW.

General capabilities: Literacy, Creative and Critical Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2.

Relevant parts of Year 9 achievement standards: Students analyse how biological systems function and respond to external changes with reference to interdependencies, energy transfers and flows of matter.

Topic: Biodiversity, Sustainability, STEM.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work Backyard Bush Blitz – Year 9.

Time required: 75 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Low – Explain some facts about biodiversity and show a video to the class.

Resources required: 

  • Bush Blitz Information Sheet
  • Device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Student devices with internet access
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student.

Keywords: Biodiversity, keystone species, bushfires, bush blitz, ecosystems, bushfires, black summer.

Bush Blitz is Australia’s largest nature discovery program, with the Bush Blitz TeachLive component delivered by Earthwatch Australia, who kindly provided the images in these lessons. Thank you to the Ian Potter Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts and The Myer Foundation for generously supporting the development of these lessons.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will…

  • … understand the importance of biodiversity in an ecosystem
  • … understand the important role a keystone species plays
  • … understand the ecological impact of the Black Summer bushfires in Australia.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … explain the features and benefits of biodiversity
  • … conduct research and communicate findings
  • … explain the relationship between wildfire and biodiversity loss
  • ... work independently and collaboratively
  • … compose an informative letter to the government.

Teacher content information: It is estimated there are 435,000-510,000 undiscovered species in Australia. 45% of the land and over 90% of our marine areas have never been comprehensively surveyed by scientists. This leaves huge gaps in our knowledge about Australia’s biodiversity and the impacts of land use. Bush Blitz is a project that aims to categorise as many plant and animal species as possible, in order to protect our bio

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: What can you do to enact change?

Why Is Biodiversity Important?

1. Watch the following clip and answer the questions below:

Why is biodiversity so important? (


What is biodiversity?

What kinds of features of biodiversity are there?

Why does the removal of one species from a highly biodiverse ecosystem have little impact? Hint: Think back to food webs and the connections between species.

Coral is a keystone species. What happens to the ecosystem if coral is removed?

2. Choose one of the following Australian keystone species and conduct the research necessary to answer the questions below about your species: 

  • Southern Cassowary
  • Mangrove forests
  • Bilby
  • Grey-headed flying fox
  • Gilbert’s potoroo
  • Grey nurse shark
  • Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle
  • Great white shark
  • Northern Quoll

Which species did you choose and what about it appealed to you?

Describe the habitat the species lives in.

How do othe

- or - to view worksheets

Leave your Feedback

We appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you like or don't like about this activity:

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.