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Coastal Heritage Curriculum Connection

Explore Curriculum Connection guides, which are written to accompany each issue of Coastal Heritage, a quarterly publication of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Coastal Heritage, Fall 2013 issue: Red Lionfish: A “Super-Invader” for Supper?

Focus Questions

  • What does it mean for a species to be “non-native”? In which geographic area is the lionfish considered to be native?
  • Why is the presence of lionfish off the coast of South Carolina considered to be a threat to the ecosystem? 
  • What factors have allowed the lionfish to reproduce and expand its geographic range so successfully? 
  • What efforts are being taken to keep or eliminate the population of lionfish?
  • What part of the lionfish is adapted for defense? How is this part of the body used?

Use the Curriculum Connection to address these South Carolina Standards

3-2.1 Illustrate the life cycles of seed plants and various animals and summarize how they grow and are adapted to conditions within their habitats.

3-2.3 Recall the characteristics of an organism’s habitat that allow the organism to survive there.

3-2.4 Explain how changes in the habitats of plants and animals affect their survival.

4-2.2 Explain how the characteristics of distinct environments (including swamps, rivers and streams, tropical rain forests, deserts, and the polar regions) influence the variety of organisms in each.

5-2.2 Summarize the composition of an ecosystem, considering both biotic factors (including populations to the level of microorganisms and communities) and abiotic factors.

5-2.4 Identify the roles of organisms as they interact and depend on one another through food chains and food webs in an ecosystem, considering producers and consumers (herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores), decomposers (microorganisms, termites, worms, and fungi), predators and prey, and parasites and hosts.

5-2.5 Explain how limiting factors (including food, water, space, and shelter) affect populations in ecosystems.

7-4.1 Summarize the characteristics of the levels of organization within ecosystems (including populations, communities, habitats, niches, and biomes).

7-4.3 Explain the interaction among changes in the environment due to natural hazards (including landslides, wildfires, and floods), changes in populations, and limiting factors (including climate and the availability of food and water, space, and shelter).

8-2.1 Explain how biological adaptations of populations enhance their survival in a particular environment.

8-2.7 Summarize the factors, both natural and man-made, that can contribute to the extinction of a species.

B-6.2 Explain how populations are affected by limiting factors (including density-dependent, density-independent, abiotic, and biotic factors).

Lesson Links

NOAA Ocean Education: Lionfish Invasion! (K-12th)
Are you curious to learn more about the lionfish? Check out NOAA’s Ocean Service Education site: for more information, photos, and videos on this invasive species. The site lists resources and activities for both students and teachers.

Understanding South Carolina’s Non-Native Species. (3rd – 12th)
Part I: Have your students select and research other plants and animals that are considered to be non-native or invasive in South Carolina. Use the links at the end of this section to answer these questions:

-What are the common and scientific names of your non-native species?
-In which geographic location or ecological niche does this species occur naturally?
-Was this species introduced on purpose? If so, how and why? If not, is there any
evidence to support how the species was introduced?
-What impact(s) is this species having on the ecosystem?

Helpful Links:

Part II: After finishing the research on their non-native species, have your students develop one of the following public outreach efforts and present these products to the class, grade, school, or during parent/science night:
-Informational pamphlet
-Informational poster
-Public service announcement
-TV commercial
-YouTube video

Hitching a Ride on Humans
Humans have often facilitated or directly caused the introduction or spread of an invasive species in a habitat. Check out National Geographic’s lesson: Invasive Species to examine different species that were introduced based upon human involvement.

Brain Pop: Invasion Online Game (requires registration) (6th – 12th)
Engage your students in an online, interactive game that features invasive species by visiting the Brain Pop website: . Pre-registration is required to access this free lesson plan.

Managing Invasive Species (9th – 12th/Advanced)
This activity challenges students to develop a management plan to address specific non-native species. Check out this activity online at Action Bio Science: .

Literature Connections – a cookbook that features multiple ways to prepare lionfish to eat. –  scientific articles on the lionfish. – North Carolina Sea Grant’s publication, Coastwatch, featuring lionfish in the Southeast. . National Public Radio’s article on lionfish (also available as audio).

Field Trip Opportunities Visit the South Carolina Aquarium to learn more about lionfish and to see one in person! Also check out the Sustainable Seafood Initiative that promotes the use of local and sustainable fisheries and lists restaurants that serve sustainable seafood. Lionfish has often been served up in Charleston area restaurants!