Week 7 - Biology

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W7: Local Invasive Species

Non-native, alien, exotic, weedy, and invasive are all terms to describe plants or animals that are introduced into an ecosystem where they are not usually found. So what's the problem with invasive species? Let’s look at a few examples. Invasive species currently impact half the species listed as Threatened or Endangered in the U.S. One study estimates the total cost of invasive species damage in the U.S. to be over $100 billion each year (Pimentel, Zuniga & Morrison, 2005).  In the Great Lakes region of the United States, invasive species that come from ballast water for ocean vessels are estimated to cost $138 million a year in damage (Rothlisberger, Finnoff, Cooke & Lodge, 2012). In the southeast, a vine called kudzu grows voraciously over everything choking out other plants, wildlife habitat, forestry plots, and even taking out powerlines at the tune of over $500 million (Bettcher, n.d.).  The list of examples and impacts goes on.

This week, we will explore the top global invasive species in your area, the damage they cause and what we can do to stop them. You can either use a search engine to find invasive species in your area (search for your state and invasive species) or you can visit: https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/resources/lists.shtml

  • Find an invasive species in your area (Virginia - United States) – a plant, animal, insect, fungus.
  • Identify your geographic location and research your chosen species
  • Answer these questions:
    • What is the common and scientific name (properly formatted)?
    • Where did it originate?
    • How did it get to your chosen location (speculate if you don’t know)?
    • What characteristics of the species makes it successful?
    • What are the affected native species (any plants, animals, etc.)?
    • What efforts are underway to prevent the spread of the species?
    • What is one thing you learned from this research?

For more information:

Wildlife Guide: https://www.nwf.org/educational-resources/wildlife-guide/

Feral/Wild Pigs: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5313597.pdf

Invasive Species: https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Threats-to-Wildlife/Invasive-Species

Resources:

Bettcher, M. (n.d.). The growing problem of kudzu: An exploration of issues and solutions. Retrieved from http://kudzusolutions.web.unc.edu/issues/

Pimental, D., Zuniga, R. & Morrison, D. (2005). Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien invasive species in the United States. Ecological Economics. 52(3): 273-288.

Rothlisberger, J.D., Finnoff, D.C., Cooke, R.M. & Lodge, D.M. (2012). Ship-borne nonindigenous species diminish Great Lakes ecosystem services. Ecosystems. 15(3): 462.

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