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This textbook chapter introduces the buffalo as a keystone species, and describes the environmental impacts of its near extinction, including today’s predominance of non-native species in the Great Plains. Human activities that contribute to species extinction are addressed. Students graph historical sightings of buffalo, and calculate the number of buffalo killed for bone used in refining sugar and fertilizer and in the production of bone china. The resource includes a link to current news articles and a teacher's guide. This is the second chapter in the unit, Losing Biodiversity, examining the endangerment and extinction of entire species of plants and animals throughout the world due to human actions. The resource is part of Global System Science (GSS), an interdisciplinary course for high school students that emphasizes how scientists from a wide variety of fields work together to understand significant problems of global impact.
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