In this exercise, developed by
Marjorie Porter of the Somers
school system, students assemble information on non-native
plant species, investigating how they have increased in frequency in
and why they are ecologically important.
PART I: Exotic
National Park Service web site, “Weeds Gone Wild” are invasive species
invaded natural habitat
been introduced to new areas outside of their native ranges
also referred to as “alien”, “exotic”, “non-native”, and
able to crowd out native species when introduced to new habitats
capable of reproducing and spreading rapidly because they are
the natural controls present in their native lands
Discuss the following
questions with your team and be prepared to present to the class:
would an alien plant species get to Connecticut in the first place?
would an alien plant interfere with the existing ecosystem? In
problems could it cause?
- Give two
examples that support your
3. What factors do you think
might allow an invasive plant
species to push out other plant species? What characteristics of the
plant and/or the existing ecosystem could allow this to happen?
the National Park Service’s “Weeds Gone
Wild” Web site to better
understand the problem of “invasives”: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/
- Select “The Invasive Problem” to check your
to items 1, 2 & 3 above.
additions or edits to those items as
necessary using a different colored
Alien of Your Own
- Visit the USDA Plants Database (http://plants.usda.gov/)
to identify and
describe a specific invasive plant species found in Connecticut.
Look at the right-hand margin and select, “Learn about noxious and
- The select, “State Noxious Weed Lists” and then
- Browse the species list and select an alien
plant species to investigate. Click on
the scientific name to find out more about it!
with your teacher – make sure that the plant species you’ve
selected is a
good choice and that no other student has chosen the same one. Here is
a list of invasive species in Connecticut for which the UConn herbarium
has the largest number of specimens (this will become important later).
- Identify and summarize the characteristics that
are unique to your invasive plant species and download two or three
of the plant
to save/record all URLs and references!
- Organize a “Magazine
Cover” (using the rubric
and samples provided
as guides.) The cover
must contain the following components:
- Accurate information about the invasive species
- All references organized in a bibliography
- Four creative and informational magazine “story”
- At least one photograph of your alien species
- Creative titles and “story” summaries
- Organized and attractive (i.e. professionally
done) features on the cover
- Correct spelling & grammar
- Evidence that the information was translated
from the original sources and was well-understood.
Examples of covers done
By doing this you can view ALL of the
records for your plant
that are on the
map. Make sure that you only record
the information for those that are
on the “Up” arrowhead next to the Year
column heading, which will sort your specimens from earliest to latest
- Use any graphing program to graph how the
number of specimens has changed over time, using the
following divisions for years: “Before 1900” “1900 to 1950”
- What was the earliest date
(year) showing a record
of your alien plant species in Connecticut?
- Is it possible that your
plant species was
present in CT before that date? Explain your answer!
if any, exists with regard to the number of plants
identified in each year category? (Be sure to refer to the data!)
Post your graph on the wall alongside those of
your peers. Which invasive species had the greatest numbers in the time
Which invasive species had the
during the time period "1950 to
There are many reasons for the differences
you noted in
the two previous questions. Identify and carefully explain why some
more represented in one time category than in another.
two new questions about your chosen invasive species that could
answered using a mapping program.