Autobiographies of Extinct and Endangered Species
- Grade Level:
- Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
- Lesson Duration:
- 90 Minutes
- State Standards:
- Hawai‘i Content and Performance Standards III:
- Additional Standards:
- Next Generation Science Standards:
At the end of this lesson, the students will be able to:
1. Describe the impacts of invasive species on the biodiversity of plants and animals in Maui.
2. Name three reasons why people should care about the loss of endemic species.
3. Understand that biodiversity of an ecosystem depends on many interconnected factors and that an effect on one factor can influence all the others.
4. Identify endemic and endangered species in Maui explain why native habitats are critical.
The loss of plant and animal species in the Hawaiian Islands has been staggering. What remains occupies only a small fraction of what their former distribution was just two hundred years ago. Many people are unaware that our native plants are under attack.
There is hope however; the battle against invasive species is being fought on many different fronts and by many different organizations. Inspectors at the airports, Maui Invasive Species Committee, and Haleakalā National Park are just a few of the organizations involved on a daily basis in the war against invasive species on Maui. We all can help in this war by learning how to identify invasive species and raise awareness of this pressing issue. We can also be diligent in our own efforts to stop the invasion by being careful we don’t spread invasive species ourselves when we travel from one habitat to another. We can also help by not planting any invasive plants in our own yards and instead planting native species.
Map of Island of Maui- Prior to Human Contact
Map of Island of Maui- Post-Contact 2005
Students will learn about extinct and endangered species of Maui.
Step 1: Show Habitat Maps
- Show the map of Ecosystem types prior to human contact. Explain that this map shows the many different types of ecosystems that were present in Maui before the arrival of people.
o Notice where the alpine desert (light pink) is.
o Notice where the rainforest (green) is.
- Show the map of Ecosystem types post contact (2005). Explain that this map shows the ecosystems in Maui in the year 2005.
o Notice where the rainforest (green) is again.
o These are some of the only in-tact native ecosystems left on Maui.
o Look at all the non-native species (dark pink) that have spread across Maui!
- Show both maps together, and ask:
o What could have happened to cause this?
o How would the loss of native ecosystems effect biodiversity?
o If the biodiversity is reduced, how does that affect a species chance of survival?
Step 2: Introduce Invasive Species
- Invasive plants can take over an area and crowd or choke out native plants (from their only home!) = Pine trees were introduced 200 years ago and are rapidly spreading throughout Maui.
- Invasive mammals can prey on endemic birds and their young. = Hawaii has lost 70% of its forest bird species from disease and habitat degradation.
Step 3: Research & Complete “Autobiography of an Extinct Species worksheet”Hand out the “Autobiography of an Extinct Species” worksheet. Ask students to choose an extinct plant or animal from Maui. Have students use the internet or library to do research on the Hawaiian plant or animal they have chosen.
Step 4: Research & Complete “Autobiography of an Endangered Species worksheet”Hand out the “Autobiography of an Endangered Species” worksheet. Ask students to choose an endangered plant or animal from Maui. Have students use the internet or library to do research on the Hawaiian plant or animal they have chosen.
Step 5: Discussion and journal entry Discuss:
- What are some factors that could cause an animal to go extinct?
- What are some of the impacts that invasive species have on biodiversity?
- What are some examples of things that we can do to help endemic species from becoming endangered and help endangered species from becoming extinct on Maui? What we can do:
o Do not introduce non-native or invasive species into native ecosystems.
o Remove all non-native and invasive species and then plant native species in their place.
o Volunteer for conservation organizations.
o Awareness/Education: Share your knowledge of this issue with others.
Why is it important to prevent the extinction of endemic species?
Why are native habitats important to preserve?
Endemic: Native species that have adapted to a specific region over time and are found nowhere else.
Invasive species: Non-native species that compete with native species for valuable space and food in their habitat.
Non-native: A species that is not indigenous or native to a particular place.