Native, Non-Native, and Invasive Species

In this program we observe a host of local invasive plant and animal species, and explore their negative impacts on habitats, food webs, biological diversity, soils, and more.  Investigating examples of local invasive plant or animal species and their impacts on the quality of habitat in our Natural Areas can help students learn about delicate ecosystems within their region. Likely invasive species that we will study include garlic mustard, emerald ash borer, common buckthorn, and Amur honeysuckle.  Many of these possess traits that can deter the growth of native species.

Grade Level, Program Length, and Seasons

  • Appropriate Grade Levels 6-12.
  • The program lasts l ½ hours and can be adapted to suit the needs of your group.
  • Program is offered April through November.

Program Description and Activities

Your students will be engaged in a multifaceted program experience that may include:

  • Differentiating between native, non-native, and invasive plant and animal species.
  • Exploring the influence of human activity in the introduction and spread of local invasive species.  This can help students develop a sense of time and place by understanding how human activities have changed plant and animal communities over time.  Students will also discuss how human decision-making has played a significant role in the character and quality of habitat now present in our campus Natural Areas.
  • Observing evidence of healthy ecological interrelationships between local native plants and animals and investigating the detrimental impacts of local invasive species on the biological diversity within a forest community.
  • Taking part in an invasive species removal activity. This tangible habitat preservation effort will reveal some of the challenges, frustrations, and joys involved in managing healthy wildlife communities.
  • Touring the established native plant landscape and rain gardens around the Center to explore how landscaping with native plants can help promote local biological diversity, protect water quality, and maintain soil health.
  • Discussing how the plants we choose for our residential landscapes and gardens can either diminish or help sustain biological diversity.