Many non-native species live in the Great Lakes, and some of them are considered invasive. These species have established populations, multiplied rapidly and caused profound and lasting impacts on the Great Lakes ecosystem. Others (such as Asian carp) have caused serious ecological problems in other parts of the country and threaten to enter the Great Lakes. This lesson explores how invasive species have impacted the Great Lakes and how people can help prevent the spread of these unwanted species.
- Name and visually recognize the primary aquatic invasive species of the Great Lakes.
- Understand and analyze the negative impacts that invasive species have on the Great Lakes ecosystem.
- Explain the ways in which non-native species are introduced into the Great Lakes.
External Curriculum Materials
Invader Species of the Great Lakes
Students do a card-matching activity to learn about aquatic invasive species (AIS). In groups students select an aquatic invasive species, create a poster or factsheet and develop a charade-like game to demonstrate ways to prevent invasive species from spreading.
Climate Change and Aquatic Invaders
Using a jigsaw pedagogical strategy, students research aquatic invasive species and then manipulate cards to identify aquatic invasive species and explain the effects of global climate change on these species.
Adopt a Habitatitude
Ten lessons on aquatic invasive species for use with students in grades 6-12.
Where have all the Lake Trout gone?
Students create and interpret graphs to determine the impact of the sea lamprey on Lake Trout populations.
What Are the Characteristics of the Great Lakes Exotic Species?
This puzzle activity is designed to help students review facts and information about the characteristics of the Great Lakes exotic species. They also learn about origin and introduction methods.
Rival for Survival
This game presents real-life choices involving exotic species found in the Great Lakes, such as zebra mussels and purple loosestrife. Students are to analyze a situation related to ecology and make an environmentally sound decision. After playing the game, students organize what they learned into a concept map.
Seeing Purple: A Population Explosion
Through a simulation, sampling, and estimation activity, students learn about the impact of purple loosestrife on a wetland due to its exponential growth. They learn about purple loosestrife’s life cycle and appreciate how scientists determine population size in an ecosystem.
Beat the Barriers
This board game teaches students about the various methods used to limit the sea lamprey population in the Great Lakes. Students assume the identity of sea lampreys and attempt to migrate from Lake Ontario to Lake Superior.
Ruffe Musical Chairs
Students use role-play to mimic the behavior of an invasive, non-native fish called Eurasian ruffe (pronounced rough) to experience firsthand how and why the species has multiplied so rapidly in some Great Lakes harbors.