The biosphere is the ecosystem linking all other ecosystems on the planet. This layer includes millions of species of animals, plants, and microbes found in every nook and cranny of the land, oceans, and air. Microbes have been found 40 kilometers high in the atmosphere, more than 5 km beneath Earth's crust, and 10 km below the sea. The fate of all living things in the biosphere hangs on the actions of a single species, Homo sapiens. We humans. Planet Diary tracks the health of the biosphere and efforts to protect it.
Planet Diary Activities
- Endangered Species in Your State
Students "adopt" an endangered animal in their state to find out about the threats to its survival and outlook for recovery.
- Rainforests of the Sea
Coral reefs feature incredible biodiversity, but face many threats.
- Nowhere to Run
Examines how global climate change impacts wildlife.
- Invasive Mussels
Case study of the impact of invasive mussels in the United States.
- Sonar and Marine Mammals
Explores how underwater sonar tests may harm marine mammals.
- How Fire Affects Wildlife
Students "adopt" an animal to learn how wildfire affects its behavior and long-term survival.
- Shrinking Rainforests
Explores why rainforests are so important and tracks how they've been affected by deforestation.
- Mercury in the Environment
Examines how mercury gets into the environment and the health problems it causes.
- Cellular Invaders
Students learn how the body responds to cellular invaders such as bacteria.
- Secondhand Smoke
Investigates how secondhand smoke threatens public health.
Students gather information on diseases, such as swine flu, that spread from animals to people.
- Evolution of a Virus
Explores the process of natural selection and how random mutations drive the evolution of a virus.
Animal Diversity Web
Find out all about the various phyla of the animal kingdom. This great resource includes detailed information on body structure and classification.
WWF Global Network
Learn more about WWF's efforts to protect the world's wildlife.
National Wildlife Federation
This site has the latest info on protecting wildlife in North America.
Our Amazing Planet
Find spectacular wildlife pictures and news here.
Check out NOAA's photo library of animals for a "virtual boatload of fins, fur, and feathers."
Concise overview of the biosphere from geography4.kids.
The Franklin Institute Online offers complete information on 100 popular animals, and lots more.
The Electronic Zoo
You are almost sure to find information on any animal you can think of at this enormous resource from Washington University in St. Louis.
FWS Endangered Species Program
Visit this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service site for the latest information about endangered and threatened species.
Another great resource for info on endangered species.
This site is full of facts and news about shark species, shark attacks, and shark conservation.
A Thousand Friends of Frogs
Student art and writing, as well as frog facts, are featured here at this Minnesota site, a project of the Center for Global Environmental Education at Hamline University Graduate School.
Follow birds, mammals, and insects as they migrate across North America. Visit this site for weekly updates on selected migratory species or contribute your own sightings.
Haven for Hummingbirds
Learn how to build your own hummingbird feeder at the Journey North Web site. This site also lists the favorite flowers of hummingbirds.
Look up information about virtually any plant in this comprehensive USDA database.
Find out about leaf shapes, plant pests and diseases, and lots more at this site.
This site tells you everything you need to know about red tides and other harmful algal blooms: which species cause them, where they are found, their effects on your health and on sea life.
World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is the place to go to find out about important health issues affecting the planet's inhabitants.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This is a great starting point for the most up to the minute health information.
Diseases A to Z
An alphabetical listing of specific diseases from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Find out about this deadly flu epidemic that swept around the world.
Communicable Disease Fact Sheets
The New York Department of Health has compiled an alphabetical list of fact sheets about the cause, transmission, and treatment of communicable diseases.