Exploring the effects of invasion on plant morphology

Developed by: Caroline DeVan1*, Adania Flemming2, Alex Krohn3, Liz Shea4, Lizz Waring5

1New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ; 2Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; 3University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA; 4Delaware Museum of Natural History,  Wilmington, DE; 5Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, OK
*Corresponding author


Invasive plant species displace native species, lowering the biodiversity of their invaded range and causing changes to environmental conditions, such as the increase in fire spread due to invasive grasses. This CURE explores whether morphological traits of an invasive species differ in the species’ invaded range compared to its native range. Students will use digital herbaria to collect morphological data on invasive plant species and compare those data between native and invasive ranges to address questions such as: How does morphology vary in an invasive species between its introduced and original ranges? How do attributes of the novel environment (e.g., climate, salinity) influence the morphology of the invasive species? How has morphology changed over time?

Learning Objectives

  • Use evidence to support scientific conclusions.
  • Research topics using electronic and print sources and attribute sources properly.
  • Design and carry out an experiment to test a scientific question.
  • Analyze and interpret scientific data using a statistical analysis.
  • Communicate scientific results in written format.

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

Learning Time: Flexible, from 4-15 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.

Optional Tools: ImageJ, R Studio

Curriculum Materials

  • CURE Syllabus 

  • Teaching Guide

  • Rubric for Weekly Assessments

  • Introduction to Data Portals

  • How to Download Data from iDigBio

  • Teacher's Guide to Using iNaturalist

  • ImageJ Plant Measurement Guide 

Created by Carly N. Jordan Last Modified Mon November 1, 2021 10:07 am by Sam S Donovan