Biodiversity: Assess and compare biodiversity on an exoplanet

Time to complete course: 35 min.

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About Biodiversity: Assess and compare biodiversity on an exoplanet Virtual Lab Simulation

Wherever you look, nature is full of animals, plants and other organisms. In this simulation, you will learn basic methods to assess and compare biodiversity.

Explore the biodiversity on an exoplanet

No matter where you live, we can guarantee you that the organisms you will find in on the exoplanet Astakos IV will be alien and new to you! In this simulation, you will sample biodiversity in three different locations, from the desert lowlands to a forest in the mountains. Once back in the lab, you will use a dichotomous key to identify species, and compare the biodiversity between the three different sites.

Sample and identify organisms

In a virtual world, you can explore an entire planet without ever physically moving. In this virtual lab simulation, you get to explore three different biotopes to sample for biodiversity. In just 30 minutes you will learn how to collect and identify species. You can collect images with a camera trap and critters in a pitfall trap in a matter of minutes – something that would normally take hours or weeks to do!

Compare and asses biodiversity

At the end of the simulation, you will compare the biodiversity of the three different sites by using the biodiversity index. You will compare the elevational biodiversity gradient on the exoplanet with that found on earth. Will you be able to identify the alien species?

Get Started Now

Travel to the exoplanet Astakos IV and use ecological methods to assess and compare biodiversity over time and between different sites.

Techniques in Lab

  • Quadrat
  • Camera trap
  • Pitfall trap
  • Biodiversity index
  • Elevational biodiversity gradient

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to…

  • Sample for biodiversity
  • Use Quadrat, camera trap and Pitfall traps
  • Assess and compare biodiversity using the biodiversity index.
  • Identify species with a dichotomous key
  • Prioritize sampling

Simulation Features

Length – 35 minutes
Accessibility mode – Available
Languages – English

Examples of Related Standards


Ecology related 1st & 2nd year


High level content, could support HS-LS2-2, HS-LS2-7


High level content, could support 4.1 Species, communities and ecosystems C.4 Conservation of Biodiversity


High level content, could support Big Idea 4: Systems interactions

Screenshots of Biodiversity: Assess and compare biodiversity on an exoplanet Virtual Lab Simulation


Dr. Michael Angilletta

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University

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