Invasive Species Impacts: Why Care?
Unit 2 – Invasive Species Impacts: Why Care?
What’s the big deal about invasive species? What damage could a few plants possibly cause? Non-native, alien plants and animals may seem harmless at first but their impact can be long lasting and severe. In extreme cases, they may be capable of driving a native species to extinction. When an endemic Hawaiian species goes extinct, it’s not just a loss for Hawaiʻi; it’s a loss for the entire planet. Invasive species affect more than just native Hawaiian ecosystems; they can also disrupt cultural practices, damage key industries such as tourism and agriculture, and pose threats to public health and safety. In this unit, students look at invasive species through the lens of each of these concerns.
Length of Entire Unit
Activities in this unit
Students collect stories from community members, conduct research, and view historic photos and video clips to see what has shifted in the natural landscape of Maui.
Students recreate rain events and measure the size of water droplets that fall from simulated miconia leaves versus native forest plants.
#3 - Frogs on Floor Four
Students role-play, assuming the responsibilities of Maui resort managers faced with the problem of a coqui frog infestation on the hotel grounds. By calculating the direct and indirect costs of various control strategies, students draft a budget that reveals the financial impact of invasive species on the island’s tourist industry.
Performing a reader’s theater, students explore the historic 1899 outbreak of bubonic plague in Honolulu. They document the causes and consequences of the outbreak. During a following class, the teacher infects select students with Glo Germ™ gel to simulate a mystery epidemic. Students use what they learned from the plague outbreak to develop an action plan, identify the pathogen, and stop its spread.
6 class periods.
Unit Focus Questions
1) In what ways do invasive species affect the natural environment of Maui? The culture? The economy? Public health?
2) How have invasive species changed Maui over time?
Cultural connections and ethnobotany. Watersheds and hydrology. Economics. Public heath and safety.
Invasive species negatively affect every aspect of life in the Hawaiian Islands from cultural practices to watersheds, the economy, and public health and safety.
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• Create a poster, flyer, or brochure explaining how invasive species affect a) watersheds, b) cultural resources, c) public health or, d) the economy. Have it reviewed for accuracy by an official at the Hawaii Department of Land and Resources www.hawaii.gov/dlnr or Maui Invasive Species Committee: (808) 573-6472 www.mauiinvasive.org
Resources for Further Reading
Lahaina: Waves of Change, film by Eddie Kamae and Myrna Kamae, Hawaiʻi Legacy Foundation, 2008. (DVD included in this curriculum or available online at www.hoikecurriculum.org).
Cuddihy and Stone, Alteration of Native Hawaiian Vegetation. University of Hawaiʻi Press, 1990.
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) website about coqui frogs: www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/coqui/index.asp
For questions about rat lungworm, call the Maui District Health Office at 984-8213 or CTAHR Maui Cooperative Extension Office, at 244-3242, ext. 232.