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NSW Syllabuses

Biology Stage 6 - Year 11 Module 3: Biological Diversity


A student:

  • BIO11/12-1

    develops and evaluates questions and hypotheses for scientific investigation

  • BIO11/12-2

    designs and evaluates investigations in order to obtain primary and secondary data and information

  • BIO11/12-7

    communicates scientific understanding using suitable language and terminology for a specific audience or purpose

  • BIO11-10

    describes biological diversity by explaining the relationships between a range of organisms in terms of specialisation for selected habitats and evolution of species

Content Focus

Biodiversity is important to balance the Earth’s ecosystems. Biodiversity can be affected slowly or quickly over time by natural selective pressures. Human impact can also affect biodiversity over a shorter time period. In this module, students learn about the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection and the effect of various selective pressures.

Monitoring biodiversity is key to being able to predict future change. Monitoring, including the monitoring of abiotic factors in the environment, enables ecologists to design strategies to reduce the effects of adverse biological change. Students investigate adaptations of organisms that increase the organism's ability to survive in their environment.

Working Scientifically

In this module, students focus on: designing appropriate investigations; collecting and processing data to develop questions to test hypotheses using appropriate media; communicating their understanding. Students should be provided with opportunities to engage with all Working Scientifically skills throughout the course.


  • Effects of the Environment on Organisms

  • Inquiry question: How do environmental pressures promote a change in species diversity and abundance?
  • Students:
  • predict the effects of selection pressures on organisms in ecosystems, including: (ACSBL026, ACSBL090) CCTL
  • investigate changes in a population of organisms due to selection pressures over time, for example: (ACSBL002, ACSBL094) SECCTICTLN
  • cane toads in Australia
  • prickly pear distribution in Australia
  • Adaptations

  • Inquiry question: How do adaptations increase the organism’s ability to survive?
  • Students:
  • conduct practical investigations, individually or in teams, or use secondary sources to examine the adaptations of organisms that increase their ability to survive in their environment, including: CCTICTWE
  • structural adaptations
  • physiological adaptations
  • behavioural adaptations
  • investigate, through secondary sources, the observations and collection of data that were obtained by Charles Darwin to support the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, for example: ICTL
  • finches of the Galapagos Islands
  • Australian flora and fauna
  • Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection

  • Inquiry question: What is the relationship between evolution and biodiversity?
  • Students:
  • explain biological diversity in terms of the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection by examining the changes in and diversification of life since it first appeared on the Earth (ACSBL088)
  • analyse how an accumulation of microevolutionary changes can drive evolutionary changes and speciation over time, for example: (ACSBL034, ACSBL093) CCTL
  • evolution of the horse
  • evolution of the platypus
  • explain, using examples, how Darwin and Wallace’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection accounts for:
  • convergent evolution
  • divergent evolution
  • explain how punctuated equilibrium is different from the gradual process of natural selection
  • Evolution – the Evidence

  • Inquiry question: What is the evidence that supports the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection?
  • Students:
  • investigate, using secondary sources, evidence in support of Darwin and Wallace’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, including but not limited to: ICTL
  • biochemical evidence, comparative anatomy, comparative embryology and biogeography (ACSBL089) ICTL
  • techniques used to date fossils and the evidence produced ICTL
  • explain modern-day examples that demonstrate evolutionary change, for example: ICTL
  • the cane toad
  • antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria