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Talesia Yancey-Scarbor

Independent Study

What I Already Knew / What I Wanted to Know

Growing up, I always loved the outdoors. Playing out in the sun, running through the, grass, and
enjoying the fresh air, was how I preferred to spend my days. I cared for animals so much
at one time, I aspired to be a veterinarian. Helping Animals, and taking care of the plants
and flowers around me, was very important in my eyes, because I was always told Take
care of the planet, because it will be yours someday.
This stuck with me and since then I wanted to know what I could do to keep the Earth healthy. I
already knew that recycling was one way to contribute to a long life time for mother
earth, but everyone knew that. Now that I am older I want to know about what else
causes the health of the planet to be decreased. After a little digging I discovered that not
only do humans, destroy the environment, the very plants and animals do as well, known
as invasive species. These species can be especially harmful to the ecosystem its
I decided that I would dig even deeper into the topic of Invasive species until I found an answer
to my umbrella question: What are invasive species/ which are in the United States?
After some detailed research, I discovered my answer.

How I found an Answer

I used several sources to find an answer to my subtopics and umbrella question. From these
sources I gathered key points about each subtopic, which help me conclude an answer.
From my first source I discovered that plants or animals that are taken from one area and
brought to another area that they are not native to become invasive. They can be very
harmful to the environment and ecosystem that they are brought to. Many of these

Talesia Yancey-Scarbor
Independent Study

species arrive accidently without our knowledge. But all though they are considered
invasive, they arent all ridiculously foreign plants. Only in a few cases do introduced
species grow invasively.1
While researching my second subtopic, I learned that there are many invasive species in the
United States, and that not all of these plants or animals are foreign. Usually found near
and around coastal area, invasive species can be very harmful. They can destroy an area
and quickly take control. But there are more non-native species than invasive species. 1,2
Invasive species are found to have both negative and positive effects. These effects can
be very bad, or very good, with no in between. The negative effects of invasive species
can lead to destruction of ecosystems, harmful inhabitants of that ecosystem, and
destructive effects on the health of plants and animals in that area. Positively, these
species can serve as beautification to a garden.
The impact that these species have on our environment is usually affects us economically. It cost
money to rebuild and fix up an area that has been taken over by a wildly growing species.
These impacts affect not only the environment, but the humans as well. Through these
key point, and research I was lead to my search results.

Search Results
As a result of my research, I have found that Invasive species can be any kind of living
organism, that is not native to an ecosystem and which causes harm. There are 4,300
invasive species in the United States.
When a non-invasive species is introduced into an ecosystem in from which they did not evolve
their populations sometimes explode in numbers. Invasive species are primarily spread by

Talesia Yancey-Scarbor
Independent Study

human activities, often unintentionally. People, and the goods we use, travel around the
world very quickly, and they often carry uninvited species with them. Invasive species
dont only come from marauding armies. A place can be devastated just by introducing a
species that isnt native to that area. Which then creates a dramatic reaction of the native
There are many different pathways through which invasive species are either intentionally or
unintentionally introduced into the United States. In the early colonial days, colonists
brought many of their favorite plants and animals with them to the new world. Many of
these species, although useful, have become problems over the years, or were carriers of
other species (diseases, insects, seeds, etc.) that were invasive. Often Invasive Species
owe their success in colonizing new ecosystems to one or more characteristics; they
tolerate a variety of habitat conditions, they grow and reproduce rapidly, they compete
aggressively for resources (like food, water, and nesting sites), and they lack natural
enemies or pests in the new ecosystem.
Every region of the United States has invasive species problems, some regions being more
severely affected than others. Some of the places with the most invasive species problems
include Hawaii, Florida, the Great Lakes, and the west coast. These places have larger
numbers of invasive species because they are transportation hubs (marine, air, tourism) or
because they have tropical climates that are more favorable for survival of the invasive
species. But those are not the only places that have invasive species problems. Invasive
species can be found from Alaska to Louisiana and from Maine to Texas. They can be
found in our forests, fields and wetlands, and in our streams, rivers and bays, and even off
our coastlines.

Talesia Yancey-Scarbor
Independent Study

Although the numbers vary widely, some of the current research estimates that there are
approximately 50,000 non-native species in the United States today. However, of that
50,000 species, approximately 4,300 have been considered invasive species.
Invasive species can negatively impact ecosystems in many ways. They displace the native
species, by making it difficult for them to live their anymore. Another negative effect is
that they reduce forest health and productivity, which can be a huge problem for not only
plants and animals but humans as well. Invasive species reduce native wildlife habitat,
when they take over an area. By doing this they alter ecosystems processes that are vital
to keeping an ecosystem up and running. Lastly, they degrade recreation areas.
These areas become overwhelmed with overgrowth. Although these negative effects are pretty
bad, there are also positive traits. These traits are often the reason a species that
eventually becomes invasive was introduced to an ecosystem in the first place. In
addition to growing rapidly and crowding out native plants in the region, the Himalayan
blackberry, for example, produces edible berries that are relished by wildlife and people
Similarly, though it now threatens to crowd out native plants and increase fire danger, scotch
broom, with its bright yellow flowers, was originally planted for beautification and
landscaping purposes. Invasive species cause harm to wildlife in many ways. When a
new and aggressive species is introduced into an ecosystem, it might not have any natural
predators or controls. It can breed and spread quickly, taking over an area. Native
wildlife may not have evolved defenses against the invader or they cannot compete with a
species that has no predators.

Talesia Yancey-Scarbor
Independent Study

The direct threats of invasive species: preying on native species, out-competing native species
for food or other resources, causing or carrying disease, preventing native species from
reproducing or killing their young. The indirect threats of invasive species: (Changing
food web) Invasive species can change the food web in an ecosystem by destroying or
replacing native food sources. The invasive species may provide little to no food value
for wildlife. (Decreasing biodiversity) Invasive species can alter the abundance or
diversity of species that are important habitat for native wildlife. Aggressive plant species
like kudzu can quickly replace a diverse ecosystem with a monoculture of just kudzu.
(Altering ecosystem conditions) Some invasive species are capable of changing the conditions in
an ecosystem, such as changing soil chemistry or the intensity of wildfires. Invasive
species have contributed directly to the decline of 42% of the threatened and endangered
species in the United States. The annual cost to the United States economy is estimated at
$120 billion a year, with over 100 million acres (an area roughly the size of California)
suffering from invasive plant infestations. Invasive species are a global problem with
the annual cost of impacts and control efforts equaling five percent of the worlds
economy. No type of habitat or region of the globe is immune from the threat of invasive

How I have grown as a researcher

Learning all of this information, was a great experience for me. I got a deeper look and better
understanding into the prior knowledge that I already had. This topic is not known by
many, but it is a big problem. Soaking up this knowledge that Ive gotten through this

Talesia Yancey-Scarbor
Independent Study

research process, I hope, can help me to lend a hand to fixing these problems. The
research was long and took a lot of reading, but it was worth it. This project has aided me
in becoming a better researcher. It was a challenge to write everything in my own words.
This Isearch was what taught me how to better summarize in my own words. I plan to be
a better researcher by the time Im ready for my senior project.


"U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service." FAQs. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 June 2015.
"10 of the World's Worst Invasive Species." Io9. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 June 2015.
"Pacific Northwest Research Station." Invasive Species. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 June 2015.
National Wildlife Federation. N.p., n.d. Web.