Data Dive: Farming for Beetles, Bees and Biomass

Middle School
High School
Stand-Alone Activity

What effect does growing millions of acres of corn have on the plants and insects living in agricultural landscapes? Can we balance biomass production and biodiversity by using a variety of bioenergy crops? In this “data dive” students analyze data on the biodiversity of plants and beneficial living in different bioenergy crops. They also compare some of the important ecosystem services that bugs and plants provide in different crops and explore ways balancing the tradeoffs between producing biomass and maintaining some of the valuable benefits of biodiversity in farming landscapes. Extend the learning by combining this activity with the Entomology Detectives research story and the Bug Biodiversity and Ecosystem Benefits field investigations.

Read this short introduction to GLBRC Data Dives to learn what they are and how to use them in science classes.

This activity is based on the "data nugget" curriculum model developed by scientists and educators at the Kellogg Biological Station. To learn more and view similar data nugget activities, visit:

Preview Instructor Guide
Environmental Science
Biodiversity & Evolution
Biodiversity, ecosystem services, biomass, biofuels agriculture, data analysis, scientific argumentation, nature of science
Prior Knowledge
Familiarity with scientific method, hypothesis testing, graphing, graph interpretation, and basic statistics helpful. Familiarity with definition of a species and basic types of species interactions also helpful.
Time Required
One or two 50-minute class periods
Required Supplies
Download materials in activity package.