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Invasive Species

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Keywords: writing, photography, science, Environment
Subject(s): Biology, Special Needs, Life Science, Technology, Photography, English/Language Arts, Science
Grades 9 through 12
School: Howard S Gray Ed Program, Scottsdale, AZ
Planned By: Sue Cullumber
Original Author: Sue Cullumber, Scottsdale
Subject: Life science, connections to: Language and Art
Grade level: High school

Materials: notebook, pencil, camera (one for each group), tape measure, string, 4 stakes, field guide of native plants.

Optional: computer, local plant expert.

Pre-class work: Bring in samples of the invasive plants that students will observe. Review the impact that invasive species have on the environment. With an environmental agency, locate areas with little disturbance and areas where invasive plants are prevalent.

Field Work: Go to an area where the endemic species are prevalent and there are few to no invasive plant species.

Student procedure: In groups of 2 or 3, measure a 5 m x 5 m square site. Place a stake at each corner of the site and loop a string around the stake. Note the type and number of endemic plants in your area and record these in your notebook. Use your field guide to identify these plants (or ask the teacher or local plant expert for help). Take a photograph of your entire area and then photos of the different endemic plants you observe. If there is any animal activity (such as burrow, prints, or nests) note these in your notebook and photograph these. After completing your observations and photos, remove the stakes and string. Do not disturb or remove anything from the area.

Go to the second site where the invasive plants have been introduced.

Following directions as above, rope off an area 5 m x 5 m. Now look for differences in the number and type of endemic plants you observe. Record this information in your notebook along with the number and location of invasive plants you observe. Again photograph the entire site, the invasive plants, and any endemic plants. Look for changes in animal activity and record these in your notebook. After you have finished your observations and photos, remove the stakes and string.

With your team, list ways the invasive species have changed the environment and endemic species. Make inferences as to why these changes have occurred; why are the invasive plants such a problem? What have they done to the variety of organisms in the area?

Post-visit analysis: As a class, discuss the groups' results and affects that the invasive species have on the environment and endemic species. Questions to consider: How did the endemic plant species change in the two areas? What is the invasive species doing to the environment? What are the long-term effects of these species on the environment? Did the students notice any changes in the animal life in the two areas?

Post Project: Students use their photos to design a power point or poster (download photos to the computer or bring in prints) comparing the two areas. Include affects to the environment and the endemic species, current impact to the community, and possible long-term effects. As part of the research, assign another place in the world where invasive species have a major impact of the environment, such as the Galapagos Islands, and compare these to their own community.

Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Academic extension for math and social studies: Include information on the economic impact of the invasive species to the community and costs of eradication. Have students research where the invasive species is from and how it entered their environment.
Materials: Flash/USB Drives, Point and Shoot, Word Processor
Other Items: 10 Olympus FE310, $150.00 each, total of $1500.00