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Mr. Smarty Plants - Science project on invasive plants in American Samoa

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Thursday - September 23, 2004

From: PAGO PAGO, Samoa
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Science project on invasive plants in American Samoa
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff

QUESTION:

What is an experiment I can do on invasive plant species for a science project? What are some main invasive plant species found in American Samoa? Where can I go to find more information on invasive plant species? Why are invasive plant species so harmful to American Samoa's ecoystem?

ANSWER:

American Samoa is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States in the South Pacific Ocean. You can read more about the history of American Samoa from links found at the Science Fair Projects Encyclopedia webpage. Established in 1988, the National Park of American Samoa is a United States National Park on the American territory of American Samoa. The park is on 3 separate islands, with the National Park Service leasing the land in the park from Samoan village councils. The Park includes a coral reef, & 2 pieces of rain forest. I recommend contacting the person working at the National Park Service associated with American Samoa to determine invasive species concerns for the Islands. There is a wonderful report developed by the Parks Service, entitled "A Natural History Guide to American Samoa", & there is an article within talking about invasive species. Also, check out the main page of the National Park Service American Samoa.

Experimental development depends on your grade level. I did find a great website out of Boston with tips on how to develop an experimental design (choose the text "Guide", under the heading "Classroom Activities"). You could purposefully compare 2 populations of plants; native and non-native species, grow them side by side, and determine what characteristics each exhibit (i.e. vegetative, floristic, etc.), & from these characteristics, determine if the non-native exhibits the kind of characteristics that would make it a potential invasive species. There was a model developed by a former instructor of mine, a Dr. Sarah H. Reichard, that I suggest you take a look at. The paper may be a little much, and I suggest that you focus on the model illustrated (p. 8; fig. 2); you might be able to follow her guidelines in developing a potential invasive plant species model of your own. Share this document with your teacher and parents to determine if this kind of experiment is right for you. And, as always, talk it over with your science teacher, as they have wonderul insight and suggestions to help you realize your project.

 

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