Naturalist Perspectives Challenge: Invasive Species

80140100939680lNow that a number of plants are sprouting, a number of naughty ones are popping up too. To complete this challenge (due May 3rd), find an invasive plant species and work through the instructions below. Suggestion: you might be able to find Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard (shown above) already growing in abundance in some areas.

  1. In your notebook, record its specific location and physical characteristics (size, color, etc.). Once again, be sure to include the Date, Time, Location and Weather Conditions.
  2. Take a picture for documentation.
  3. Confirm the identity of the species as accurately as possible with the help of a field guide like Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast; of the characteristics you observed, which ones give you allow you state with certainty the species of this plant? The shape of the leaves? The location of the plant? Be as specific as possible.
  4. Find out about the characteristics of this species. Where did it come from? What makes it unique? What problems might it cause in areas it gets a foothold in? Is it edible; are there some good “invasivore” recipes for it?
  5. Now that you’ve found some information about this invasive species, describe it terms of ecological concepts. Does it compete with other plants? Is it in a symbiotic relationship with other ? What was its ecological niche in the area its native to? What kind of ecological niche does it have in an area where it’s invasive?
  6. Find out if it makes an molecules that are unusual or especially useful for its survival.
  7. Summarize your responses to 1 – 6 in a blog post.
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