Earth Science, Earth's System, ES 5: Life on Earth (HS), HSus 3: Human/Ecosystem Interactions (HS), Natural Selection & Evolution, NSE 4: Adaption (HS), NSE 5: Natural Selection (MS), NSE 5: Population Flux (HS)

Modeling Ecosystem Invasions with Bacteria

Invasion triple trouble: Environmental fluctuations, fluctuation-adapted invaders and fluctuation-mal-adapted communities all govern invasion success

SUMMARY: To model how ecosystems react to invaders and temperature changes (due to global warming), researchers used different bacteria clones to simulate invasions. Results showed that communities in fluctuating temperatures were more susceptible to invasion compared to communities with constant temperatures. If the invasion occurred before the resident organisms had a chance to adapt to the changes, then the invasion was even more successful.

LESSON COMMENTS: This is a good article for students to read at the start of a high school environmental class. A good activity that can be conducted by students is to record the changes in population of protists in a jar of pond water when sampled outside in fall/spring temperatures versus the population in the sample when it is brought indoors and warmed up. Which organisms were able to take over the jar at different temperatures and/or oxygen levels?
Other topics include evolution and all the different stressors/factors that can drive evolution during a time like now when global temperatures are on the rise.

Saarinen, K., Lindström, L., & Ketola, T. (2019). Invasion triple trouble: Environmental fluctuations, fluctuation-adapted invaders and fluctuation-mal-adapted communities all govern invasion success. BMC Evolutionary Biology,19(1). doi:10.1186/s12862-019-1348-9