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Kudz-who? and Other Questions of Invasive Species


Parks Collins
Natural Science
Mitchell Community College


It is now well known that non-native species have the potential to be harmful to an ecosystem, but that wasn't always the case, and getting rid of non-native invasive species is usually a difficult task. This brief, interrupted case study tells the story of kudzu's introduction into the United States in the late 1800s. It also examines (and even questions) how we define words like "native" versus "non-native" and "invasive" versus "non-invasive." Students will learn how invasive species impact ecosystems and why some non-native species never become established. They also will address questions related to eradicating non-native invasive species. For example, is it okay to attempt to get rid of a non-native species with another non-native species? As part of the activity, students also will have to decide whether or not kudzu should be considered "native" since it has been in the United States since 1876. Originally designed for a general biology course for majors, the case has also been used in a biology class for non-majors as well as an environmental biology class.

  • Identify potential ecosystem problems caused by non-native, invasive species.
  • Determine how non-native, invasive species become established in an ecosystem, including the role of humans in this process of establishment.
  • Research and discuss what it means to label a species as "invasive."
Keywords: invasive; non-native; kudzu; non-invasive; native; ecosystem; Pueraria lobate; Megacopta cribaria; kudzu bug;
Topical Area: Regulatory issues
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF, PowerPoint
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Ecology   Environmental Science   Botany / Plant Science  
Date Posted: 11/17/2017
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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Supplemental Materials

The optional PowerPoint presentation below includes some useful visuals to project during class.

  kudzu_sup.ppt (~4MB)

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