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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, Spring 2007 issue: Knocking Back Biological Invaders

Focus Questions

  • How do species “invade” environments? What can I do to help the environment?

Use the Curriculum Connection to address these South Carolina Curriculum Standards

3rd Grade
Habitats and Adaptations, “…understand structures, characteristics, and adaptations of organisms that allow them to function and survive within their habitats.”

4th Grade
Organisms and Their Environments, “…understand the characteristics and patterns of behavior that allow organisms to survive in their distinct environments.”

5th Grade
Ecosystems:  Terrestrial and Aquatic, “…understand relationships among biotic and abiotic factors within terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.”

Ecology:  The Biotic and Abiotic Environment, “…understand how organisms interact with and respond to the biotic and abiotic components of their environment.”

High School
Biology, “…understand the inter-relationships among organisms and the biotic and abiotic components of their environment”

Lesson Links

Exploring Invasive Species

1.  Making Observations and Developing Inferences.

a. Alien Invasion! NOAA’s National Ocean Service (Appropriate for 9-12 grade levels.)
Explore inter-relationships among the living organisms, physical features, bio-chemical processes, natural phenomena, and human activities in coastal ecological communities.  This activity uses research, monitoring and assessments to better understand invasive species and the factors that affect them.

2. Identify adaptations of species and make predictions about their impact. 

a. Introduce an Alien!  Louisiana Sea Grant Program (Appropriate for middle grades.) Students identify the adaptations that help species to survive in different ecosystems.  They predict the impact of an exotic species on the food web and project it’s success in a particular environment.

3. Evaluating the risk of invasive species.  

a. The Rapa River Watch.  Virginia Sea Grant (Appropriate for 9-12th grades.)
Students explore the likelihood of the rapa whelk, an invasive species in VA, to invade and thrive in four fictitious habitats.  Students interpret data sets, graphs and maps to conduct the risk assessment.

b. Where Will the Zebra Mussel Invade? Virginia Sea Grant Program (Appropriate for 8-12th grades.)
Students work collaboratively to analyze scientific data on zebra mussels and water quality.  They develop predictions about the likelihood of the mussels becoming introduced and established into new aquatic locations.

c. Where in the World?  Oregon and Washington Sea Grant Programs (Appropriate for 6-12th grades.) This activity uses geography skills to map routes of invasive species from native habitats.

4.  Solving the “invasive” problem.

a.  What Would You Do…? Oregon and Washington Sea Grant Programs (Appropriate for 6-12th grades.) Students employ role-playing to examine real-life trade-offs involved in managing natural resources.

Literature Connections

  • “Oh No!  Hannah’s Swamp is Changing” Written by Marilyn Barrett-O’Leary. This children’s book is appropriate for elementary grade levels.  It focuses on the impacts of exotic species on the environment by addressing non-indigenous species, the effects that they have on our environment, and what can be done to mitigate their effects are included. The book contains a poster and several activities for young hands to do.
  • “Invasion Ecology” by Marianne E. Krasny and the Environmental Inquiry Team addresses the issue of how exotic species devastate environments. This teacher’s guide provides background, methods and research ideas for middle and secondary students of ecology.

Informal Assessment Ideas

“Pre- and post-assessments using visual resources. Visit this site to download a poster illustrating the seven ways aquatic exotics are spread. Collect data on what students already know before your activities and repeat it after your unit is completed. You (and the students) will be amazed by what they have learned!

Nab the Aquatic Invader interactive game:  Students (grades 4-10) identify “bad guys” who bring invasive species into US waters.

Invasive Species Jeopardy:  Download this PowerPoint presentation to make evaluation fun!