Double Whammy: Climate Change and Invasive Species K-12 Curriculum for the Great Lakes

Untitled Document
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS): Multiple Species
Project Location: Pennsylvania
Project Start Date: 01/2011
Expected Timeframe/Duration: 12/2015
Sponsoring Organization: Sea Grant (Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota)
Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Great Lakes Restoration initiative
Web Links: lakes-aquatic-invasive-sp...
Primary Contact: Sara Stahlman (Grisé), Senior Coastal Outreach Specialist
Pennsylvania Sea Grant

Secondary Contact: Anna McCartney Communications and Education Specialist
Pennsylvania Sea Grant
Project Summary:

For decades, invasive species and climate change have been considered independent concerns. However climate change impacts such as increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and increasing heavy storm and flooding events can alter ecosystem function, vectors of spread, and habitat suitability, which can accelerate the risk of invasive species and will likely make a bad problem worse.  It is vital that future generations understand the connections between climate change and invasive species so that they might consider these impacts in future decisions.

The goal of this project was to revise existing educational materials to help teachers and students learn more about the effects that global change may have on various Great Lakes invaders. Ten existing activities were updated to include information about how climate change might impact invasive species, including their introduction, establishment, spread, habitat suitability tolerances, and impacts. The updated curriculum also urges students to think critically about local and logical solutions to these problems.

In addition to the curriculum, Pennsylvania Sea Grant also developed a series of Newspapers in Education (NIE) pages, which have reached over 6,000 students on issues relating to climate change and invasive species. One important focus of the NIE pages was the Habitattitude™ campaigns “don’t release” message about not releasing aquarium pets and plants into nature. This message becomes even more important as warming temperatures from climate change may allow tropical pet species to establish in places where it was previously too cold for them to survive.

All educational materials associated with this project can be found on the Pennsylvania Sea Grant website under ‘Education’, and flash drives containing the curriculum can be obtained by contacting Sara Stahlman.