Activity 1: Coastal Inhabitants
Materials & Setup
In Advance Enlarge Coastal Schematic
- Have a few students make enlarged coastal schematics for use during the first class period. Tape a large piece of newsprint on the wall and project the Coastal Schematic acetate onto the newsprint. Have students use a marker to trace the image onto the newsprint. Make two for each group of six to ten students. (See class period one materials & setup for materials needed.)
Class Period One Coastal Areas Then and Now
- “Coastal Schematic” acetate (master, p. 9)
- Several large sheets of newsprint (two for each group of six to ten students)
- Masking tape
- Large marking pens
- Overhead projector
For each group of six to ten students
- One blank enlarged “Coastal Schematic” on newsprint
- Colored marking pens or colored pencils
- Cellophane tape
- Set of 44 “Coastal Species Cards” in color (master, pp. 10-32)
Class Period Two Where Did Coastal Species Come From?
- World Map acetate (master, p. 33)
- Four colors of nonpermanent overhead markers
- Overhead projector and screen
For each group of six to ten students
Class Period One
1) Ask students to brainstorm the plants and animals they have seen in coastal areas. Write their ideas on the board or overhead.
2) Ask students which plants and animals on this list they think are native, and which are not. Note what the majority of students think next to the plant or animal name on the list. After you have gone through a good selection from the list, ask students whether they think most plants and animals in coastal areas are native or nonnative.
3) Tell students that the coastal ecosystem on Maui has been dramatically altered by human use from the time of the original Polynesian settlers through today, and in fact is the most altered ecosystem on the island. Ask students to discuss why that is, brainstorm about questions such as why people would want to live in the coastal zone, and how people use coastal areas. Write student ideas on the board or overhead.
4) Divide the class into groups of six to ten students. Give each group a newsprint version of the “Coastal Schematic,” some colored marking pens or pencils, and a set of laminated color species cards.
5) Have groups separate native from nonnative species cards. (Note: Be sure students understand that the label, “endemic,” signifies species that are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Also make sure students know the meaning of the term “indigenous.” It refers to a species that is native, but not unique, to an area.) During this process, they should notice whether any of the species they thought were native are actually nonnative, or vice versa.
6) Using the native species cards only, have each group create a representation of what the coastal ecosystem might have looked like before people came to Maui. The cards contain habitat information that will help students place species in the correct parts of the coastal ecosystem. They may tape the species cards onto the newsprint schematic and/or draw the species in the appropriate places on the schematic. Students should fill in the schematic with their own drawings of species, especially those that they think would have been more abundant than taping the species card to the schematic would suggest.
7) Ask students to consider their representations of the native coastal ecosystem in light of the fact that the coastal ecosystem is the most altered ecosystem on Maui. Have students brainstorm what might be missing from their representations, which have been created using only species that still exist today. Summarize the discussion by using the following points:
- Fossil evidence indicates that large flightless geese and flightless ibis that are now extinct once inhabited the coastal area.
- The coastal area was once predominently forested. Scientists estimate that it was eighty percent or more forested prior to human settlement. Intensive cultivation in coastal areas led to the demise of these forests.
- Based on historical accounts and fossil evidence, scientists know that native honeycreepers such as the ʻapapane and ʻamakihi once inhabited coastal areas. As the native vegetation has been largely removed and replaced by alien plants, these birds no longer inhabit the coastal ecosystem.
- Human use and development of coastal areas has eliminated many wetlands areas and sand dunes.
- Scientists acknowledge that they cannot know for certain what the coastal ecosystem was like prior to human settlement because so much has changed.
- Many plant and animal species that were once abundant in the coastal area are rare today.
8) Allow groups a short time to add to or adjust their coastal ecosystem representations based on the discussion.
9) Have each group briefly present its representation to the rest of the class. (Keep the newsprint representations and the nonnative species cards for the next class period.)
Class Period Two
1) Divide the class into the groups from the previous class period. Each group should have its representation and species cards from the previous class period, along with a blank “Coastal Schematic” on newsprint and colored markers or pencils.
2) Have each group brainstorm a list of everything they can think of that’s been introduced into coastal areas on Maui. They may use the species cards to generate ideas and their lists may include living and nonliving things (e.g., roads, hotels, houses, beach access, harbors, dune restoration fences).
3) Have each group use its list and all the species cards (including those from the previous day’s schematic) to create a representation of what the coastal ecosystem on Maui looks like today. They may tape species cards onto the newsprint schematic in addition to drawing other living and non-living elements found in today’s coastal areas.
5) Ask students to brainstorm all the different ways coastal plants and animals could have gotten to the Hawaiian Islands. Write student ideas on the board or overhead.
6) Project the “World Map” acetate. Tell students they are going to work with information on the species cards to identify patterns in how species got here, where they came from, and where Hawaiian species are found elsewhere in the world. They will consider five main categories:
- Indigenous species (these illustrate natural patterns of dispersal),
- Migratory species,
- Endemic species,
- Polynesian introductions, and
- Species introduced after European contact.
Assign a different color marker to each of these five categories.
7) Have students review species cards for information about the origins of Hawaiian coastal species and geographic distribution patterns of species found in Hawaiʻi. As they discover information, call on one student at a time to say the name of the species, where it came from originally, and how it got to Hawaiʻi. Use the appropriate colored marker to draw a line on the map connecting the place of origin with the Hawaiian Islands. For indigenous species without a clear place of origin, put marks on the map to indicate where else in the world the species are found. For each endemic species, simply draw a dot near the Hawaiian Islands.
8) When the map is filling up or you have covered most of the cards, ask students to identify and explain patterns based on the lines and dots on the map. If students need help, ask them to look for:
- Regions where many species originate (e.g., tropical Pacific Islands, throughout the tropics worldwide, Indian Ocean),
- Regions where few species originate (e.g., American continent, Australia, India, Europe),
- Similarities and differences between the origins or geographic distribution of species that dispersed naturally and those introduced by humans (e.g., most indigenous species are distributed throughout the Pacific islands, throughout the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans, and more broadly throughout the tropics; human introductions expand the geographic connections of Hawaiian species to include places such as Europe, Australia, India, and the American continent), and
- The number of endemic species. (Many Hawaiian ecosystems are comprised of a high number of endemic species because the isolation of the islands makes ongoing genetic exchange with other places unlikely. Coastal ecosystems have relatively few endemic species because of the increased likelihood of continuing inflow of genetic material from off-island in areas where many plants are dispersed on ocean currents or carried in the digestive tracts of migratory birds.)
- Why is the coastal ecosystem the most human-altered ecosystem type on Maui? Since there is very little native coastal habitat left, what do you think people should do?
- How would you describe how you thought about coastal areas before this activity? What have you learned about the coastal ecosystem? How do you feel about the coastal areas on Maui now?
- If you did the dispersal mapping exercise that you did during class separately for native species and nonnative species, what differences would you expect to see in the maps? Why?
- Group representations of native coastal ecosystems and the coastal ecosystems of today
- Group lists of living and nonliving things humans have introduced to coastal areas
- Participation in group work and class discussions
- Journal entries