A CURE for invasions: Mobilizing digitized natural history collections to track invasive species 

Developed by: Ryan Kerney1*, Michael Caldwell1,  Fran Weaver2, Timothy Whitfeld3, Katie Burnette4, Joshua Mays5

1Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA; 2Widener University, Chester, PA; 3University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN; 4California State University Riverside, Riverside, CA; 5Gaston College, Dallas, NC 
*Corresponding author


Invasive species are organisms that cause environmental or economic damage outside of their naturally occurring ranges. Identifying the mechanisms that influence the dispersal of invasive species is key to preventing and controlling their spread. In this CURE, students will investigate how the range of an invasive species has changed over time. They will use this information to generate and test hypotheses about the impact on the distribution of an interacting species. Students will retrieve, clean, and annotate digitized natural history collections and/or citizen science data, map and compare the species distributions, evaluate the strength of their results, and present a summary of these explorations to their peers. Student progress will be evaluated by regular group progress reports, and one final product that communicates the entirety of the effort.

Learning Objectives

  • Investigate the nature of invasive species generally and the natural history of an invasive and of a species that interacts with the invasive one

  • Collect and analyze data to make inferences about an invasive species and their impacts on changes in the distribution of interacting species over time using digital collections.

  • Download and clean digital collections data

  • Communicate research progress and results in a scientific manner

Intended Audience: Undergraduate, lower levels. Suitable for in-person, hybrid, or online courses.

Learning Time: Flexible, from 7-15 weeks

Required Resources: Access to computers and internet. All resources, data, and tools needed to complete this tool are freely available online. No physical lab or materials are needed.


Curriculum Materials

  • A CURE for Invasions Syllabus

  • Species Account 

  • iNaturalist Observations 

  • Invasive Species Attributes 

  • Searching GBIF and iDigBio

  • Downloading & Cleaning Data

Created by Carly N. Jordan Last Modified Sat February 12, 2022 6:43 pm by Carly N. Jordan