Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Biofilms and Biodiversity

anemone

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest, most productive estuary in the United States, providing habitat for some 2,700 species of plants and animals. The health of the Bay depends on maintaining this high level of biodiversity (the number and variety of species located within an ecosystem).

One way to measure biodiversity is to examine biofilm communities. Biofilms are bacterial colonies that form in layers. They can be found in many areas of the human body and in the environment. The interactive lessons that are part of Biofilms and Biodiversity are an excellent way to engage students in project-based learning.

In Maryland Sea Grant’s interactive lesson Biofilms and Biodiversity, you will evaluate biofilm communities grown on plexiglass discs suspended vertically in the Baltimore Inner Harbor water. The biofilm discs are periodically checked during different times of the year and observed for colonization and species diversity.

In this project, you will be asked to answer these questions:

  • What tiny creatures lurk in Inner Harbor water?
  • What relationship do these organisms have with the water quality in the Inner Harbor region?
  • How does depth of the water affect the species diversity?
  • How can we design an experiment to answer these questions?
  • How will data be collected?
  • How can the data collected be analyzed?

As you progress through the unit, you will learn how to make your own biofilm rack, conduct your own biofilm experiment, and analyze data using the You’re the Expert tool.

See and use the the interactive lessons on the Biofilms and Biodiversity website.

Or download the Biofilms and Biodiversity lessons.