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Biotic Change on the Front Range

Weeds & Weevils Unit - Middle School

Tim Seastedt conducts class in the field.

Do life cycles really matter?  How do species interactions affect land management decisions?  In this middle school unit, explore the science behind invasive species management through hands-on investigation of plant and insect life cycles.

Hands-on activities meet Colorado Life Science and Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability standards.

The toadflax lessons can be completed year-round since stems are always available for dissection.  In the toadflax lessons, students investigate the characteristics of invasive plants.  Students explore lifecycles and interactions between organisms to learn how biological control agents (in this case insects) can be used to reduce invasive plant populations.  Students apply their knowledge to a real-world situation in the management game.  The knapweed lessons are best used in late summer through early autumn, as mature seed heads for the dissections are only available at these times.  The goal of this part of the unit is to teach students about biological controls.  Development of these lessons was supported by funding from the USDA.

A photo from the Life Cycle Cards: a field of toadflax on Mount Jumbo overlooking Missoula in 2006, before the release of toadflax stem weevil.

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A photo from the Life Cycle Cards: the same field in 2008, two years after the release of toadflax stem weevil.

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