Invasive Species in Hamilton Harbour

Students will be introduced to ecosystems and the differences between native and invasive species, with a focus on fish that can be found in Hamilton Harbour.

What You Need

Materials:

  • A way to record scores (pencil/paper or chalkboard)
  • Printed Fish Cards (20 native and 6 invasive)
  • Printed Food, Shelter and Offspring Cards (150 card total - 12 per page)
  • Optional materials for outdoors: 3 stations - this could be pylons set up across a field; 3 containers/boxes per station to hold Food, Shelter, Offspring cards; Whistle

Attachments:

Guide:

PowerPoint:

Slides:

Food Shelter Offspring cards:

Fish cards:

Video:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FMeW1SeaTCSLTgyO2H7V7uuVEV3kRTXx/view?usp=sharing

Safety Notes

If played outdoors, students will be running/racing from station to station, so any pushing or violence will not be tolerated.

What To Do

For the educator: We have written a brief introduction to important concepts that you can read to your students. We have included questions to prompt discussion with your students. We also have a PowerPoint presentation to go along with the information below. Here is a video created by volunteers explaining invasive species, but it is not specific to Hamilton Harbour and fish species: https://vimeo.com/529137396

Topics to cover in the brief introduction: What is an ecosystem? What ecosystems do we have in Ontario? What is biodiversity? What are Native vs Invasive species?

  1. Set up 3 stations. Ideally you could have a container or box at each station to hold the Food, Shelter and Offspring cards in 3 separate piles. Students will be running/walking from a central location to the 3 stations.
  2. Everyone will choose a fish, either native or invasive, and keep that card with them at all times. They must keep their identity secret until round 3 when the invasive species will be revealed. To survive the year, students must collect Food, Shelter, and Offspring cards. These cards are in three piles 10-20 metres away in different directions and they will have to choose which pile they want to draw from each round when they reach a station. There are various points on the cards from 1 to 3 - these will be randomly distributed around the 3 stations. Cards may run out at stations if students all run to the same pile, so they have to be strategic. If they run to a station and there are no cards, they won’t be able to pick up a card. Play nice and play fair - no stealing cards from others or else you will be eliminated from the game.
  3. From the center, the station leader will say “GO!” and each student must run to a pile and bring back one card (without looking at it). The students cannot look at their cards before the end of the game and they should try to keep their cards secret so that the Invasive species do not know what cards they have. You can set a time limit on them going to and from a station and use a whistle to remind them to come back.
  4. This will go on for 3 rounds. At the end of 3 rounds, the students will gather in the center, look only at their fish species and the Invasive species will reveal their identities.
  5. The invasive fish have special “Invasive Powers” that can only be used now. The special invasive powers are:
    • Aggression: you may take any card from another player. Choose a player and have them hold their cards face down for you to choose a random card.
    • Generalist foraging: Choose a player. They will get to look at their cards and offer you their Food cards without showing them to you. You can take ONE Food card from them without knowing the value.
    • High reproductive capacities: You will give your current Offspring cards to the organizer/teacher. These points will be doubled for you at the end of the game and added to your final score. You can still pick up more Offspring cards, but these points will not be doubled.
    • Now the tides have turned! There are only 2 rounds left until the final tally. Have the students go out and gather cards for the final 2 rounds.
  6. At the end of 5 rounds, have students count up the number of Food points, Shelter points and Offspring points they collected.
  7. To survive the year, you need to have 3 FOOD points and 3 SHELTER points. Ask the students to come forward who have at least 3 Food points and 3 Shelter points. From this group, have them say how many Offspring points they have. The fish that survives the year and has the most OFFSPRING points wins that year.
  8. If time permits, have students give back their fish cards and point cards, reshuffle and play again!

Discovery

What's Happening?

The STEM concept of this activity is biodiversity, ecology and ecosystems. Students will learn about various adaptations and advantages that invasive species have and the harm they can cause to the environment.

What's Happening?

The STEM concept of this activity is biodiversity, ecology and ecosystems. Students will learn about various adaptations and advantages that invasive species have and the harm they can cause to the environment.

Why Does It Matter?

The Aquatic Behavioural Ecology Laboratory (ABEL) at McMaster University conducts research on round goby fish, which are interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, round gobies are an invasive species in the Great Lakes, including Hamilton Harbour. Unlike many other fish, round gobies eat mussels, which are concentrated with contaminants. Unfortunately, larger fish and water birds can eat the round goby, spreading these contaminants. Members of ABEL are interested in the effects of pollution and species introductions (such as invasive species) on animal behaviour and ecosystems as a whole. Thus, the round goby is a great subject for them to research. They are also interested in breeding systems, which they can study in round gobies as they have two types of males – parental males who defend the territory and look after the eggs, and sneaker males who stealthily fertilize eggs without doing any of the other work!

Why Does It Matter?

The Aquatic Behavioural Ecology Laboratory (ABEL) at McMaster University conducts research on round goby fish, which are interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, round gobies are an invasive species in the Great Lakes, including Hamilton Harbour. Unlike many other fish, round gobies eat mussels, which are concentrated with contaminants. Unfortunately, larger fish and water birds can eat the round goby, spreading these contaminants. Members of ABEL are interested in the effects of pollution and species introductions (such as invasive species) on animal behaviour and ecosystems as a whole. Thus, the round goby is a great subject for them to research. They are also interested in breeding systems, which they can study in round gobies as they have two types of males – parental males who defend the territory and look after the eggs, and sneaker males who stealthily fertilize eggs without doing any of the other work!

Investigate Further

This activity can be modified for an indoor or outdoor setting depending on the audience (see guide for instructions). At an activity booth, this activity can cover the different adaptations of invasive species by focusing on the invasive species cards alone.

Investigate Further

This activity can be modified for an indoor or outdoor setting depending on the audience (see guide for instructions). At an activity booth, this activity can cover the different adaptations of invasive species by focusing on the invasive species cards alone.

Resources

For more information about the ABEL, please visit: https://abel.mcmaster.ca

Geburzi J.C., McCarthy M.L. (2018) How Do They Do It? – Understanding the Success of Marine Invasive Species. In: Jungblut S., Liebich V., Bode M. (eds) YOUMARES 8 – Oceans Across Boundaries: Learning from each other. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93284-2_8 https://www.ontario.ca/page/ecosystems-ontario-part-1-ecozones-and-ecoregions http://hamiltonharbour.ca/resources/documents/HamiltonHarbourFisheriesManagem ent.pdf

Guide:

PowerPoint:

Slides:

Food Shelter Offspring cards:

Fish cards:

Video:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FMeW1SeaTCSLTgyO2H7V7uuVEV3kRTXx/view?usp=sharing

All resources can also be found in the following Google Drive folder:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1UQ_ZkCxPfiREr-0shAk7g3UhWzLlcHpl?usp=sharing

Check out additional resources (articles, career profiles and more) on these topics from Let’s Talk Science: