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Roles in an Ecosystem

Organisms in an ecosystem have different roles depending on its relationship to other organisms.

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Ocean Bully
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Ocean Bully

Why It Matters

Could one fish from your aquarium turn an entire ocean ecosystem on its head?

Scientists are currently following the population growth and distribution of lionfish as they invade the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans and are very concerned! Watch this:

Why are scientists so concerned about lionfish being introduced into these oceans? How are they impacting the ocean ecosystem? How are they affecting humans?

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  1. Use this NOAA site to dig a little deeper: http://www.ccfhr.noaa.gov/stressors/lionfish.aspx
    1. Identify marine organisms that are producers, 1st level, 2nd level, and 3rd level consumers currently in the Atlantic ocean ecosystem
    2. Draw a diagram that shows the flow of energy through this ecosystem
    3. Identify which parts of this diagram are in jeopardy of being affected by the growth of the lionfish population
  2. How does the growth of the lionfish population in the Atlantic Ocean affect us? What can we do to improve the situation? Here are a few examples to get you started:
    1. Aquatic Hitchhikers
    2. Cooking Lionfish
  3. Invasive species affecting local ecosystems is not rare. Here are two other current scenarios identifying invasive species affecting the local ecosystem and human economy:
    1. Tahoe invasive issues
    2. Great lakes invasive species
  4. Using either the Lionfish in the Atlantic case study, the Lake Tahoe case study, or the Great Lakes case study, hold a town meeting with your classmates. Identify stakeholders in the town (local businesses, environmentalists, community members, fishermen, restaurants, etc.) and decide what action your town should take.
  5. Are there invasive species in your world? Identify a similar phenomenon affecting your own life.
    1. How is it invasive?
    2. How is it affecting the local environment? How is it affecting you?
    3. What action can you take to reduce its negative impact?

Resources Cited

National Park Service. REEF. YouTube. http://youtu.be/lYPcnQW_YZs

NOAA. http://www.ccfhr.noaa.gov/stressors/lionfish.aspx

Protect Your Waters. http://www.protectyourwaters.net/

Glenn Harlan Reynolds. Popular Mechanics. http://www.popularmechanics.com/outdoors/recreation/fishing/the-perfect-way-to-get-rid-of-invasive-species-eat-them

80 Beats. Discover Magazine. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2012/07/14/commercial-fishing-returns-to-lake-tahoe-to-combat-an-invasive-species/

Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/invasive/

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