Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Measuring Biodiversity – Life in One Cubic Foot


Dr. Christopher Meyer is a marine biologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Join him in peering into the diversity of life on coral reefs in Moorea and Indonesia. Consider why you would want to find and catalog all the species in an ecosystem and what it tells you about that ecosystem's resilience to change. Contemplate the importance of monitoring biodiversity in ecosystems around the world. See how techniques used by Chris can be used by students to measure biodiversity in their own neighborhoods.

This program originally aired April 10, 2014, as part of the Smithsonian Science How webcast series, which is designed to bring natural history science and research to upper-elementary and middle-school students.

Teaching Resources

Ocean Biodiversity and Biocoding

National Middle School Standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Life Science

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.
Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Grade Level
Life Science