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Writing Center

There are many organisms living in Jacksonville that are not native to Florida. Many were brought over on ships
and some were pets that have escaped or been let loose. On your Centers Worksheet, write a letter to Mayor
Alvin Brown discussing how one of these species is impacting other organisms. Be sure to include a small
food web details the problems your species presents, including possible natives it could kill off. (The organisms
Invasive Species #1:
whose names are written in ITALICS should be part of your food web.)
Invasive Species #2: Invasive Species #3:
Hydrilla
Red-Eared Slider Brown Anole

Hydrilla is an invasive species that


was introduced to Florida as an
aquarium plant in the 1950s. It
grows up to an inch a day, and
forms thick mats of branches, like
in the picture above.

These thick mats block sunlight


from reaching native Florida water The Brown Anole was first sighted
producers, like Pondweed, R.E. Sliders are an invasive species in 1887. It is native to Cuba and
Tapegrass, and Coontail. Without that were introduced to Florida as the Bahamas, but in Jacksonville it
sunlight, the native plants die. a pet. They occur naturally in is in direct competition with our
Mississippi River deltas. native Green Anole.
Floridas freshwater sport fish, like
the Largemouth Bass and Bluegill The R.E. Slider is in competition Brown Anoles and Green Anoles
Sunfish, have spent their lives with Jacksonvilles native turtle, feed on the same organisms,
adapting to eat Insects that feed the Yellow-Bellied Slider. Both are including Crickets, Roaches, and
on native plants. With Hydrilla omnivores and eat a variety of Moths. Large male Brown Anoles
infestations, these fish are fewer in foods, including Fanwort, have also been known to eat
number and usually grow to a Waterweed, and Minnows smaller Green Anoles.
SCIENCE LITERATURE CENTER
Read the following two articles about food webs, and how the energy flow is shifting due to population change.
When youve finished, respond to the prompts on your Centers Worksheet.

Food Web Woes


If sharks disappeared from the ocean, rays might thrive, but shellfish would probably suffer.
Sharks are scaryno doubt about it. Just ask anyone whos seenJawsor other films that feature these sharp-toothed creatures.
But theres something that might be just as scary as meeting up with a sharkat least from an environmental perspective. Its the
thought of what might happen if sharks disappeared from the oceans. Thats because sharks are important players in delicate food webs,
suggests a new study out of Canada.

Fishing companies have been killing large sharks for decades. Sometimes theyve done it on purpose, and sometimes theyve done it by
mistake. Because of these kills, the animals that sharks eat have boomed. And thats bad news for the creatures even lower on the food
web.

Along the East Coast of the United States, only sharks that are at least 2 meters (6.6 feet) long are tough enough to eat a lot of the
medium-size sharks, rays, and skates living in those waters. Eleven large shark species in the region fit into that category.

Researchers led by Ransom Myers in Nova Scotia reviewed 17 surveys that counted big sharks and their prey during the past 35 years.
They found that numbers of all 11 species have dropped since 1972.

As the big sharks disappear, most of the smaller sharks, rays, and skates have increased in number. Surveys have shown increases in 12
of 14 species of these sea creatures over the past 30 years. The populations of some of these species are 10 times as high as they were
three decades ago.

Researcher Charles H. Peterson recently heard fishermen in North Carolina complaining that cownose rays were eating up all the regions
bay scallops. He and his colleagues at the University of North Carolinas Institute of Marine Sciences at Morehead City decided to test
whether this was really happening.

To keep rays from eating scallops in certain areas, the scientists put a protective ring of poles around the scallops. Rays are wider than
most sea creatures and wont usually swim between poles that are spaced closely together. (The rays could turn sideways and fit through,
but they dont usually do this.) Other animals, however, swim easily through the gaps between poles.

In 2002 and 2003, at the beginning of the fall season, researchers found populations of bay scallops that were healthy and dense. But
after rays migrated through, the scallops nearly disappeared in areas that were not surrounded by poles. Within protected areas, only half
of the scallops were gone. Its not even certain that the missing ones got eaten, Peterson says, since they might just have swum away.

The study suggests that efforts to replace declining populations of shellfish, such as scallops and oysters, might require extra levels of
protection against predators.

The findings reinforce the message from a 1998 study of a food web in Alaska. In that area, killer whales can normally eat otters. Otters
Green Invaders
Non-native plants put the squeeze on locals.
Green invaders are taking over America. Nope, not invaders from space. Plants. You might not think of plants as dangerous, but in this
case they are threatening nature's delicate food web.

The invaders are plants from other countries brought here to make gardens and yards look pretty. Ever since people started to arrive on
America's shores, they've carried along trees, flowers, and vegetables from other places.

Now there are so many of those plants, they are crowding out the native plants that have lived here since before human settlers arrived.

And that's a problem, says Dr. Doug Tallamy. He's an entomologist (an insect expert) at the University of Delaware. He explains that
almost all the plant-eating insects in the United States90% of themare specialized. That means they eat only certain plants.

Monarch butterfly caterpillars, for example, dine on milkweed. If people cut down milkweed and replace it with another plant, the
butterflies will not have the food source that they need to survive.

But the trouble doesn't stop there, it goes right across the food web. When insects can't get the right plants to eat and they die off, then
the birds don't have enough bugs for their meals. Tallamy points out that almost all migrating birds depend on insects to feed their young.

"We cannot let the plants and animals around us disappear," says Tallamy. "The way to preserve them is to give them food to eat. But
when we plant non-native plants, we are clobbering the food web, because then we don't have the insects the birds need to live."

Fewer of the right plants mean fewer bugs, and fewer bugs mean fewer birds. And that's bad for the Earth, because we need a variety of
living things to keep the planet healthy and beautiful.

The good news is, gardeners everywhere are working hard to protect native plants and get rid of the invaders. Many local garden centers
sell native plants. "Just Google 'native plants' and your location, and you can find out which plants really belong where you live," says
Tallamy.

Planting the right things makes a real difference, and fast. He describes planting milkweed in a tiny city courtyard about the size of a
living room one spring. By summertime, that milkweed patch had produced 50 new monarch butterflies!

Tallamy encourages kids to go out and plant native plants. "Adopt a bird species in trouble and see if you can't plant some things that will
attract the insects they need," he suggests. "It will happeninsects move around a lot, and they will find the plants you put out there for
them! C. Fox

Cownose Ray Monarch


Gaillardia, a
eating oysters, caterpillar
native Jacksonville
which are similar eating the leaf
flower.
to scallops. of a milkweed
plant.
DATA Center
Use the graphs below to analyze the Prairie Dog and Fox populations in the food webs.

Prairie
Dog

Fox

Grass Black-footed Ferret