Controlling invasive species (Part 1/2)

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Students will learn and evaluate two sampling protocols.

Big Idea

Are you being invaded by invasive plants? Find out ways to measure and evaluate your land.

What Students will Learn in this Lesson

1 minutes

Today students will analyze two protocols scientists use to determine if a plant is an invasive species and how invasive animals and plants can be controlled. This day one of a two day lessonHere is an overview of what they will learn today.

Hook/Check for Understanding

3 minutes

In their lab notebooks, have students complete a KWL chart to activate their prior knowledge about invasive species.  They should consider what they know about invasive species, what they think they know about invasive species, and what they want to know about invasive species.  

Ask for student volunteers to share their responses and add them to a class KWL sheet.

Next, give a brief timeline of invasive species in the area and some potential problem they might be causing.  (Note: We have a nature area near our school that is wooded.  It has a problem with garlic mustard and poison ivy.  In particular, the garlic mustard has choked out many of the native species in the nature area. We are using these lessons to determine if we have a problem and to devise a plan to control the spread of these invasive plants.)

Using the Frayer method, define invasive species.   

Student Reading: What is an Invasive Species?

20 minutes

Students will complete a webquest to help them determine the difference between the legal definition of an invasive species and the biological definition of an invasive species.

First, students should visit the National Invasive Species Information Center and consider the following questions: 

  • How does the government define an invasive species? 
  • How does this compare to the biological definition of an invasive species?
  • What is the primary means of invasive species introduction?
  • What types of plants are considered invasive species?
  • What types of animals are considered invasive species?
  • What types of microbes are considered invasive species?

After gaining an preliminary understanding of invasive species, students will take a closer look at invasive animals through a case study of the Asian Carp.  For this portion of the webquest, they should explore the Asian Carp page on the National Invasive Species Information Center and a sampling report on the spread of the Asian Carp throughout the United States.  While reading these pages, students should consider the following questions:

  • When were the first Asian carp introduced into the United States?
  • Why was the first carp introduced?
  • Why is the Asian carp considered to be an invasive species?
  • What is being done to track the spread of Asian carp?
  • What are the results of the most current sampling?
  • What is the distribution of Asian carp throughout the United States?
  • What are some methods currently being used to control the spread of Asian carp?

Student Activity: Invasive Species

15 minutes

Once students have completed the first part of the web quest, bring the class back together to discuss what they have discovered.  Explain to them that they will next play a BrainPOP computer stimulation, Invasion! This simulation allows students to explore the concerns and problems involved in controlling the spread of an invasive animal species, Asian carp, to the Great Lakes. Briefly explain the rules of the game using the provided handout.  Then, allow them to play. Have students keep a summary of their actions and statistics.  When they have completed the game have them take a screen shot of their stats and print them off for verification. Then students should write a brief summary of their actions.  

Putting It All Together: How Invasives Conquer an Area

10 minutes

Have students discuss their findings for the lab simulation. Ask students to consider the folllowing questions:

  • Explain their actions and how they prevented the spread of Asian carp. 
  • Discuss what other factors they had to consider (i.e. public opinion, acceptance from adjoining states, and industry support). 
  • What types of actions did they need to take to keep all stakeholders happy?  

Ask students to draw some conclusions concerning how an invasive animal might outcompete native animal. Ask students if the same criteria might apply to plants?  

Finally, as a class read the Take Home message, Stop invasive species before they become a problem, take notes, and write a current event summary.  

Homework:  Students should complete final part of the web questApplying what we learned to plants:  Garlic mustardas homework. It is due at the beginning of class tomorrow so that students will be able to do field work.