As part of 9th grade biology studies, students participated in an extensive project revolved around the invasive lionfish species. In addition to researching and understanding lionfish as a species, students had to understand the problems that the fish can cause to ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Islands, and the Southern Atlantic Seaboard of US.
Students quickly learned that one of the impacts humans have on earth’s ecosystems is that we move living things from one place to another, sometimes introducing a species to a habitat or ecosystem where it did not exist before. Some of these introductions are intentional like agricultural crop species but some have been unintentional (small organisms can “hitchhike” or “stowaway” and accidentally be brought to a new place along with other cargo, for example). Organisms have always found ways to colonize new environments but the activities of humans have increased the frequency of these introductions. Sometimes these introduced species cause problems with the existing ecosystem by preying upon or competing with native species -- these trouble-maker species are called “invasive” species.