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About Estuaries Logo E-Live Sample Backpack #3
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Topic: Power of Diversity: Biodiversity and Bio-Invasions     

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Estuaries Major Principles Addressed

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Principle 3 - Abundance of Life and Diversity of Habitats

Principle 4 - Research and Monitoring to Protect and Sustain

Principle 6 - Human Impact


Estuaries 101 Curriculum Connection

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Life Science Activity #3: Biodiversity in the Estuary


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Additional Search Terms for Researching Extreme Weather and Estuaries
  • food web
  • mangrove
  • carnivorous plants
  • cheniere
  • oyster restoration
  • lionfish
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Description/Introduction

It was well into the twentieth century before we humans began to realize what power is created when those of diverse cultures, talents, and interests come together for a common purpose. Some have observed that what may well be the greatest science frontier of the twenty-first century is to research the power of diversity of plants, animals, and habitats and their interrelatedness.

Students will take a virtual field trip to the Rachel Carson Component of the North Carolina Research Reserve to learn about current research into what happens when an ecosystem is invaded by a new specie, in this case, the tropical reef fish known as the lionfish. Viewers should not be misled by the unworldly beauty of the seemingly placid lionfish that gracefully glides by the camera lens. Behind this appearance of unusual beauty, lurks an eating and breeding machine that is bound to bring irreversible change to Carolina coastal waters.

The story of the lionfish's introduction to the North Carolina coast serves as an interesting way to engage students in a study of biodiversity -- the wide array of plants, animals, and habitats found in the estuary and the complex interactions between living things and their environment -- including the importance of the conservation of that biodiversity.

Featured Places

  • Barataria-Terre Bonne Estuay Program -- Thibodaux, Louisiana
  • ACE Basin Research Reserve -- Charleston, South Carolina
  • Charlotte Harbor Estuary Program -- Fort Myers, Florida
  • Chesapeake Bay Research Reserve -- Annapolis, Maryland
  • New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program -- New York and New Jersey
  • North Carolina Research Reserve, Rachel Carson Component -- Beaufort, North Carolina
  • San Francisco Bay Research Reserve -- San Francisco, California
  • Weeks Bay Research Reserve -- Fairhope, Alabama
Introductory Slide Show

PowerPoint Icon Destination:Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary, South Louisiana

Introductory Video

Lionfish: Estuary Invaders? (8:56)
This video features the North Carolina National Research Reserve, Rachel Carson Component in Beaufort, North Carolina. The lionfish, native to tropical reefs, is now found in great numbers off the coast of North Carolina where scientists are researching what effect this beautiful but aggressive fish might have in a non-native ecosystem. See experiments with native striped bass who are surprised to find this exotic fish in their space.

Additional Video Resources

Carnivorous Plants (9:47)
This video features Weeks Bay Research Reserve in Fairhope, Alabama. Introduction to bogs along the Alabama coast (Weeks Bay Estuarine Research Reserve) and the carnivorous plants that grow there, including Pitcher Plants, Pink Sun-dos, and Red Sun-dos.

Estuary Basics (Marsh Plants) (9:27)
This video features ACE Basin Research Reserve in Charleston, South Carolina. Explanation of how plants survive the severe changes of the estuary, their importance in the food cycle, and contribution to estuary habitats.

Restoring the Estuary (5:25)
This video features San Francisco Bay Research Reserve in San Francisco, California. Volunteers work to remove the ice plant, an invasive specie in the San Francisco Bay Estuary. Sticky Monkey Flower, a native specie, is then planted to create a better habitat in the marsh. This habitat is known as the transition zone and receives little effect from the tide. Save the Bay representative gives suggestions for stewardship.

Plants (Circle of Life) (3:12)
This video features the Rachel Carson Component of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve in Beaufort, North Carolina. Plants from microscopic algae to the tall Spartina contribute to the circle of life in the estuary. Discussion of producers, consumers, and decomposers.

Building a Salt Marsh (3:33)
This video features the New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program in New York and New Jersey. Restoration of a salt marsh includes explanation of the plants selected to form a salt marsh habitat. Spartina alterna flora or Saltwater Cordgrass is the primary plant and is planted nearest the water since it has adaptations to help it cope with the salt water. Plants are placed in the zones where they thrive so they can help the restoration's survival.

Mangrove Maniac (4:17)
This video features Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program in Fort Myers, Florida. Join Captain Matt, the Mangrove Maniac, for an introduction to three types of mangroves (red, black, and white) and explanation of the symbiotic relationship of white mangroves and ants. White mangrove secrete sugars that the ants feed on and deter other insects from damaging the mangrove.

Mangrove Q & A (7:09)
This video features the Charlotte Harbor Estuary Program in Fort Myers, Florida. Mangroves are trees that have learned to live in the salt water, the brackish water of the estuary. Not only do they live in estuarine habitats but they help other animals survive there, too, by buffering against waves and storms, cleaning the water of pollutants, and building more land by trapping sediments with their roots.

Following the Rail (9:42)
This video features the Chesapeake Bay Research Reserve in Annapolis, Maryland. Discussion of the migration of the Sora rails and attempts to track them including radio telementry and banding. Studying of the Sora rail has led to new attempts to restore the wild rice that the Canadian Geese have decimated.

Birds of the Barataria-Terrebonne (7:16)
This video features the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Program in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Barataria-Terrebonne estuary serves as destination point or stopover for migratory birds. Featured birds include Brown Pelicans and Red Knotts. Also introduction to Cheniere (French for “place of oaks”) forest habitats and the importance of preserving these for migrating birds.

Creatures of Brackish Water (7:27)
This video features the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Program in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Creatures that thrive in brackish water must be extremely tough to survive huge changes in salinity within short periods of time. Creatures featured include fiddler crabs, called Toolooloos in Louisana, the rare Great Land Crabs, and ribbed muscles. Dr. Gary LaFleur also discusses the interrelatedness of these creatures with the dominant plant species, Spartina.

SCORE for Oysters (7:57)
This video features ACE Basin Research Reserve in Charleston, South Carolina. South Carolina Oyster Restoration Education -- Learn about a special program that engages South Carolina volunteers to build oyster reefs and why this work is important.

Larger Animals of the Estuary (7:26)
This video features the San Francisco Bay Research Reserve in San Francisco, California. One of best known functions of the marsh is to provide a habitat for birds. Introduction to migratory shore birds. Great White Egret is featured with adaptations discussed. Some discussion of elusive mammals like the raccoon and fox. San Francisco Bay Estuary.

Night in the Estuary (4:04)
This video features the Rachel Carson component of the North Carolina Research Reserve in Beaufort, North Carolina. Dr. Dan Rittscoff of the Duke Marine Lab describes his work to create a computer model of the estuary at the Rachel Carson Estuary.
Videos about Estuarine Microbes.

Phytoplankton (9:39)
This video features the Rachel Carson component of the North Carolina Research Reserve in Beaufort, North Carolina. Learn how phytoplankton can be advantageous or disadvantageous for an estuary. Phytoplankton are described as producers in the food cycle. See phytoplankton under a microscope. Also, there is an introduction to phytoplankton bloom.

Salinity Stratification Experiment (9:11)
This video features the Rachel Carson component of the North Carolina Research Reserve in Beaufort, North Carolina. Explanation with demonstration of the salinity stratification in an estuary and how that change creates different habitats.

SWMP (System Wide Monitoring Program) (8:05)
This video features the Rachel Carson component of the North Carolina Research Reserve in Beaufort, North Carolina. Nationwide water quality monitoring program to learn about trends and make informed decisions about managing the estuaries. Real-time monitoring of dissolved oxygen (DO), ph, salinity, turbidity, and depth.

Additional Web Resources

Watershed Biodiversity Program for the Hudson River Estuary: Conserving the Plants, Animals and Habitats of the River Basin - Introduction to biodiversity: the wide array of plants, animals, and habitats found in the estuary and the complex interactions between living things and their environment -- and biodiversity conservation. Also, Resources Available for Conservation and Land Use Planning including Hudson River Estuary Wildlife and Habitat Conservation Framework (overview of biodiversity issues, key plant and animal habitats, and strategies for conservation), nature mapping, habitat summaries, conservation guides, and environmental resource mapper. Lesson Plans for Grades 3 -5, grouped by discipline. With links to several sources of an evolving online K-12 collection of K-12 lesson plans. Adaptations: Designs for Survival - Lesson Plan on Physical and Behavioral Adaptations. Informative with labeled color images to support text. Adapting to Estuaries - Explanation of the need for plants to adapt to changing estuarine environments.

Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (American Museum of Natural History) - The importance of biodiversity and how we can preserve it.

One Planet, Many People: Atlas of Our Changing World (United Nations Environment Program) - Online book including chapter on coastal areas with images, interactive maps, powerpoint slides, and posters. Presentation of environmental hotspots and issues based primarily on satellite imagery taken over 30 yees showing how human actions and geophysical activities have changed various parts of the world. Also "Atlas of Our Changing Environment on Google Maps" depicts humanity's past and present impact on the environment. "Atlas of Our Changing Environment on Google Earth" use Google Earth software to fly around a virtual planet Earth.

The Lionfish Invade U.S. Coastal Waters - Learn the history of the lionfish's introduction and distribution along the southeast coast of the United States. Resources include: an introduction to invasive species and a discussion of the lionfish's effect on this new ecosystem, a brief video, "Run-ins with an Invader," of a surprise sighting by scientists in a submersible and a narrative about their experience, a video introduction, "Thinking Like a Scientist," to scientist Paula Whitfield, who studies the lionfish in the Atlantic, additional student resources include appropriate Web resources, teacher resources include a list of Web resources, lesson plans, and a quiz.

Image Library

Google Earth map of Rachel Carson Component of the NC Research Reserve
Google Earth map of Rachel Carson Component of the NC Research Reserve
Google Earth map of Rachel Carson Component, NC Research Reserve
Google Earth map of Rachel Carson Component, NC Research Reserve
Google Earth map of hermit crab research site at Rachel Carson Component, NC Research Reserve
Google Earth map of hermit crab research site at Rachel Carson Component, NC Research Reserve
Lionfish in aquarium
Lionfish in aquarium
Lionfish in aquarium
Lionfish in aquarium
Lionfish in aquarium
Lionfish in aquarium
Lionfish in habitat (credit to Nautilus Productions)
Lionfish in habitat (credit to Nautilus Productions)
Lionfish in habitat (credit to Nautilus Productions)
Lionfish in habitat (credit to Nautilus Productions)
Lionfish in habitat (credit to Nautilus Productions)
Lionfish in habitat (credit to Nautilus Productions)
Sharp, poisonous spines of Lionfish
Sharp, poisonous spines of Lionfish
Sea bass attacking minnow
Sea bass attacking minnow
(Credit: Google Maps/Elive framegrabs)



Last Updated on: 12-14-2011

 

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