People have intentionally and unintentionally moved plant, animal, and other species to new environments. Many of those species cause environmental—and sometimes economic—harm. In this activity, students will research invasive species in the United States and then investigate the presence and effects of invasive species in their own community.
This is one of 3 activities that can be found in PLT’s Exploring Environmental Issues: Biodiversity module. To get the activity, attend a training or purchase the module now from shop.plt.org. Below are some supporting resources for this activity.
Download the copyright free student pages that are included with this activity:
Every month we carefully select new tools and resources that enhance PLT’s lessons. These include educational apps, videos, posters, interactive websites, careers information, and teacher-generated materials. Browse a chronological listing below:
Invasive Species: Starlings
In this Encyclopedia of Life podcast called Starlings, most appropriate for grades 8-12, students will learn how humans have inadvertently put out the welcome mat for this alien species, the common starling. It’s a non-native species that is omnivorous, gregarious, adaptable, and highly successful in its adopted land. This podcast is just one in a series of podcasts called One Species at a Time.
Animals at Risk from Climate Change Poster
This poster captures the complex interaction of biological traits and environmental conditions that cause a species to be susceptible to climate change. Thoroughly documented to studies from reliable sources, including the IUCN Climate Change Specialist Group, NASA, NOAA, the US EPA, and the IPCC, the poster features 25 animals that highlight the fundamental impacts of greenhouse gases—causes, effects and risk of extinction—on all forms of life on the planet.
BioInteractive’s Science Education Resources
At BioInteractive, you can find hundreds of free multimedia resources for science education targeted to a high school and undergraduate audience. Topics range from evolution to ecology, to diversity of organisms and earth and environment, to biotechnology and the scientific process. The resources include apps, animations, videos, interactive tutorials, and virtual labs to help engage students and explain difficult scientific concepts. Videos range from short clips to short films (15 to 30 minutes long) to full-length lectures on a specific topic given by top scientists working at the cutting edge of scientific research—all supplemented by teacher guides and classroom activities.
Dead planet, Living Planet
The report, Dead planet, Living Planet: Biodiversity and ecosystem restoration for sustainable development, was a contribution to the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity. The report documents successful case studies referencing thousands of restoration projects ranging from deserts and rainforests to rivers and coasts. The report provides recommendations on how to avoid pitfalls and minimize risks to ensure a successful restoration. It is downloadable from the website and can be read online as an interactive e-book.
Nab the Aquatic Invader
Nab the Aquatic Invader teaches students in grades 4-10 about aquatic invaders and the problems they create in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf, and Great Lakes regions. Produced by NOAA and the Sea Grant Program, the website features games and activities in which student detectives must “nab” critters in each locale that are damaging the environment. The website also includes extensive background information on each species.
Asian Longhorned Beetle Hunt
Students in grades K-12 can participate in the USDA’s Asian Longhorned Beetle Hunt and help preserve our nation’s forests. The Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive pest, destroys trees and has been found in several states across the country. Classroom resources, including videos and identification worksheets, are available to help teach what the beetle looks like, what the signs of infestation are, and what to do if an infestation is spotted.
Global Invasive Species Database
The Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) aims to reduce threats to natural ecosystems and the native species they contain by increasing awareness of invasive alien species and of ways to prevent, control, or eradicate them. The ISSG facilitates the exchange of invasive species information across the globe and ensures the linkage between knowledge, practice, and policy so that decision making is informed. To support these efforts, ISSG has compiled a list of “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.” View photos and learn more about these species’ habitats, impacts, uses, and the geographical range.
The Sentinel Plant Network helps protect plants by preventing the spread of bad bugs and fungi. To help their mission, they assembled a team of “Plant Heroes” to detect and combat bugs and diseases that harm plants and ecosystem health, paying special attention to the Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Longhorned Beetle, Redbay Ambrosia Beetle, and Ramorum Blight. Using games, comics, printables, and field guides, the Plant Heroes website allows students to learn more about pest and disease identification and how to report evidence of them.
A free app that can be downloaded onto any Apple device (try iBird Lite for Android). Use WildLab Bird to learn the basics of bird identification. This application uses audio, photographs, maps, and the process of elimination to help identify over 200 bird species. Sightings can also be entered into a national bird watching database for comparison.
Global Forest Watch
Global Forest Watch (GFW) is an interactive online forest monitoring and alert system designed to better visualize forest change across the globe. Developed by the World Resources Institute and partners, Global Forest Watch monitors forests across the world in near real time to show where trees are growing and disappearing. The system provides contextual data that fleshes out complex issues surrounding deforestation. It can be utilized by teachers for classroom demonstrations and activities, and by students for research.
Biointeractive’s Holiday Lectures on Science
Biointeractive’s Holiday Lectures on Science series brings current research into the classroom, bridging the gap between textbook science and real life science. The Biodiversity in the Age of Humans series asks powerful questions, such as: Are we witnessing a sixth mass extinction? What factors threaten ecosystems on land and in the sea? What are researchers doing to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems around the world? What tools do we have to avoid a global catastrophe? In six half-hour lectures, three leading scientists describe the state of biodiversity on our planet and how to face the great challenges that lie ahead.