Invasive Species: a study of the Disruption of an Ecosystem’s Dynamics

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Invasive Species: A Study of the Disruption of an Ecosystem’s Dynamics

Life Science: Ecosystems, Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics, Grade 7

This unit engages students in an exploration of ecosystem dynamics as seen through the study of invasive species. The unit focuses on the effects of resource availability in an ecosystem and changes in biological or physical components of an ecosystem on organism populations. Students explore how invasive species are introduced and what impact they have on local food webs; and how ecosystems react to the introduction of invasive species. This unit is designed for students in grade 7, using research, models, data analysis, and writing about invasive species to understand changes in an ecosystem.
This Model Curriculum Unit is designed to illustrate effective curriculum that lead to expectations outlined in the Draft Revised Science and Technology/Engineering Standards ( as well as the MA Curriculum Frameworks for English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. This unit includes lesson plans, a Curriculum Embedded Performance Assessment, and related resources. In using this unit it is important to consider the variability of learners in your class and make adaptations as necessary.

This document was prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, an affirmative action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.

© 2015 Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE). ESE grants permission to use the material it has created under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Additionally, the unit may also contain other third party material used with permission of the copyright holder. Please see Image and Text Credits for specific information regarding third copyrights.

This unit is modified from a unit developed by the New Bedford Ocean Explorium, “Ecosystems and Invasive Species: Grades 6–8.” Contributing authors of the original unit include David Welty, Wende Allen, Jack Crowley, and Hugh O’Mara, and editor Jewel Gilbert.

The contents of this Model Curriculum Unit were developed under a grant from the U. S. Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U. S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant St, Malden, MA 02148-4906. Phone 781-338-3300, TTY: N.E.T. Relay 800-439-2370,

Table of Contents

Unit Assumptions and Comments on Sequence 4

Unit Plan 6

Lesson 1: Introduction to the Impact of Invasive Species 10

Lesson 2: High Profile Invasive Species Research 14

Lesson 3: Limiting Factors 18

Lesson 4: Broken Food Web 22

Lesson 5: Independent Species Research 25

CEPA: Teacher Instructions 28

CEPA: Students Instructions 31

CEPA Rubric 43

Unit Resources 44

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