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U6L12 Diversity Index Portfolio
The measure of the biodiversity of organisms in a given area is known as the diversity index. The diversity index values will vary between 0, which would indicate no diversity, and 1, which is very diverse. Any values above 0.5 usually indicate a relatively diverse population. For example, a healthy forest or woodland should have a plant diversity index of 0.7. An area that is not very diverse, like a cornfield, might have a plant diversity index of 0.02 or less.  In this investigation, you will need two different types of candy, with each bag of candy representing a different habitat. Each candy color represents a different plant in the habitat.

Materials Needed:
1 small bag of fruit flavored candies:
1 small bag of multi-colored chocolate candies (like M&Ms):
2 dishes, plastic containers or small paper bags

Pour each bag of candy into a separate container, dish, or paper bag, so you can see all the colors (each representing a different plant species). Assign a letter to each color of chocolate candies and fruit candies, and record your key below. (1 pt):

Example Key: R = Red, B= Blue, Br = Brown, G = Green, Y = Yellow

Fruity Color Key
Chocolate Color Key



Without looking, randomly choose NINE candies from each container one at a time. Using the letter symbols, record each candy as it is removed. Record the results in a single row next to the appropriate trial (you will do three trials for each candy type). In addition, you will need to determine the number of runs per trial.  Each color is a run.  If candies of the same color are chosen side by side, that is considered 1 run.   (6 pts)


# of Runs In Trial

Example Trial

Example Trial Run Calculation

Fruity Trial #1

Fruity Trial #2

Fruity Trial #3

Choc Trial #1

Choc Trial #2

Choc Trial #3


Calculate the diversity index in each of the trials as well as the average diversity: (2 pts)

Diversity index = number of runs/number of samples (in the above example 7/9 = 0.78)

Trial #1
Trial #2
Trial #3
Avg. Diversity

Example Diversity Index
7 / 9 = 0.78
5 / 9 = 0.56
9 / 9 = 1
÷ 3 =
(.78+.56+1) ÷ 3 =
2.36 ÷ 3 =

Fruity Diversity Index
___ / 9 = 0.___
___ / 9 = 0.___
___ / 9 = 0.___
÷ 3 =

Choc. Diversity Index
___ / 9 = 0.___
___ / 9 = 0.___
___ / 9 = 0.___
÷ 3 =


Based on the information in the data table above, how did the diversity index vary between the two candies? Which candy is more diverse? (1 pt)


Why do you think we did three trials instead of just one? (1 pt)


Why might a diverse population be more resistant to disease, predation, and invasion? (1 pt)


There are many human-caused losses of biodiversity, such as habitat destruction and introduction of invasive species. List TWO examples of NATURAL (non-human related) events that could alter the diversity index: (2 pt)


What do you think might happen to the animals in an area if the plant diversity declines significantly? Explain your reasoning! (2 pts)


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