Fruit bats are considered the only native mammal in American Samoa thus earning the right to be protected within the National Park of American Samoa. Local folklore casts a dark image on fruitbats, portraying them as sinister and devious creatures with connections to the spirit world. These superstitions undermine their ecological importance to the native tropical rainforest. Fruit bats help transfer pollen from one tree to another and are also important for seed dispersal.
There's a certain mystique about the word “biodiversity” that seems to be associated with images of steamy jungles or wondrous new medicines, but the word more specifically refers to the number of species or 'species richness' of an area. One reason why tropical areas are so fascinating is that they contain the highest numbers of plant and animal species found anywhere on earth.American Samoa sits squarely in the tropics, so we should have a high biological diversity here, but we do and we don't
Our world is always changing. Look out your window long enough and you might see the weather change. Look even longer, and you'll see the seasons change. The Earth's climate is changing, too, but in ways that you can't easily see. Round-n-round the Earth goes, where change may happen nobody knows! This program will help students understand the changes occurring in the Earth’s climate, its impact on local ecosystems and help them discover ways to help.
Coral reefs in American Samoa have turned pure white on several occasions in recent years. They look freshly bleached, quite pretty, but that's a clear sign that they are in trouble. Two very different kinds of stress cause corals to turn white: (1)clorox bleach, and (2)warm water temperatures. Clorox bleaching happens from time to time when a foolish fisherman dumps clorox onto the reef to kill fish. This is very short-sighted because it also kills everything else in the vicinity.
Corals face in our modern world, a great threat due to a projected change in water chemistry in the ocean due to global warming. Just as carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas causing global warming) is increasing in the air, it also increases in seawater in its dissolved form. That makes seawater more acidic which, in turn, may slow the rate at which corals build their calcium carbonate skeletons.
The National Park of American Samoa is one of over 400 units of the National Park Service. This activity helps students explore and understand the various units in the system.