Pre service teachers´ ability to name nesting animals in ecosystems – A perspective of biodiversity

Year: 2013

Author: Yli-Panula, Eija, Matikainen, Eila

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Purpose: Species knowledge, biodiversity and sustainable development are related concepts. Pre service teachers are persons that promote biodiversity and sustainable development education in the future. The aim of this study is to investigate the consciousness of the pre service teachers of nesting animals in certain ecosystems. The hypothesis was that by asking to name animals nesting, not living in the ecosystem, more birds than e.g. mammals would be mentioned. Methods: The group of pre service teachers included primary school teacher (PT) students (n=181) and subject teacher (ST) students (n=51), who had specialized in biology and geography. A questionnaire including drawings of four ecosystems (spruce dominated coniferous forest, fen, savannah and rainforest) were used. The students were asked to name 10 different nesting animal species in each ecosystem drawing. Results: The highest frequency of named animals was found in the answers of ST students in all ecosystems. Spruce dominated coniferous forest got the highest number of animal mentioned by ST students. The lowest mean of the named animals was in fen according to answers of PT students. Mammals were the most often mentioned animals by the pre service teachers of the four animal groups. The other three groups were birds, reptiles + amphibians + fish and invertebrates. ST students named more birds than PT student and ST students were able to name more animals at the species level. In many of the answers the pre service teachers included only mammals in the savannah ecosystem. Usually 4 animals were named to tropical rainforest. The most common nesting animals in pre service teachers´ answers were mammals like lion, giraffe, zepra, hyena and antilope in the savannah. The biggest variation of nesting animal groups was in the fen and the most common named animals were elk, mosquito, frog, crane and capercaillie. Conclusion: The named animals were the same than in an earlier study, where the students were asked to name animals living and moving in the ecosystems. This indicates that certain animals are remembered, commonly known, and will therefore be named. This study reveals that the consciousness of taxonomy of nesting animals should be improved. Consciousness of animals (species) is important for future teachers to be able to teach biodiversity and sustainable development.