Invasion of the Lionfish

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1 READTHEORY Name Date Invasion of the Lionfish The lionfish is one of the most dangerous fish in the Atlantic Ocean. Its body is covered with poisonous spines that can cause a very painful sting if you get too close. However, the spines are not what make the lionfish dangerous. The lionfish is dangerous to the Atlantic Ocean because it does not belong there. It is an invasive species. An invasive species is any organism (living thing) that does not belong in an ecosystem and causes harm to that ecosystem. An ecosystem includes all of the animals and plants that live together in one area. An ecosystem also includes all of the non-living parts of the area, such as the climate, amount of water, kind of soil, types of rocks, and other things. As an example, imagine somebody s backyard. The plants that live in this backyard include a few kinds of trees and flowers. Blue jays and beetles also live in this backyard. Sun and rain make the plants grow. The beetles eat the plants. The blue jays eat the beetles. When the blue jays die, their bodies turn into food for the trees and flowers. All of the parts of the ecosystem work together. In this example, the blue jays, beetles, trees, and flowers are all native to the backyard ecosystem. They belong there that is where they are from and where they naturally live. Now let us suppose that Jerome looks at this backyard and thinks: I do not like those beetles in my backyard! They are chewing up my nice flowers. Jerome reads in a book that ducks like to eat beetles. Jerome then buys a large flock of ducks and releases them in his backyard. Ducks are much bigger than blue jays. The ducks eat all of the beetles. The blue jays cannot find enough food. They all either fly away or die off. Now there are no blue jays, no beetles, and way too many ducks. The ducks also like eating the grass and flowers. Soon there is no grass and no flowers. The ducks have done a lot of damage to the backyard ecosystem. The ducks were not native to the backyard ecosystem. A human being (in this case, Jerome) put the ducks into an ecosystem where they did not belong. The ducks are an invasive species. An invasive species is an organism that causes harm to an ecosystem because it does not belong there. The lionfish is native to the coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, which is the waters that surround Southeast Asia, Australia, and West Africa. Today, however, millions of lionfish live in the coral reefs of the Western Atlantic Ocean. Lionfish have been spotted in coastal waters ranging from Rhode Island down to Brazil. No one knows for sure how they got there, but there are some theories. One theory is that lionfish living in aquarium tanks were accidentally released into the ocean during a hurricane. Another theory is that lionfish eggs hitched a ride on the bottoms of ships travelling between the Indo-Pacific and Western Atlantic oceans. No one can prove which theory is correct, but we do know one thing for certain: these lionfish are an invasive species in the Western Atlantic Ocean. They are causing great harm to that ecosystem. One of the reasons why lionfish are so dangerous in the Western Atlantic reefs is that they have no natural predators there. Sharks and other large fish do not seem to think that the lionfish are food. Without a predator, the lionfish are free to swim, eat, and, of course, make more lionfish. Lionfish will also eat just about anything they can fit into their mouths, including smaller fish, lobsters, crabs, and shrimp. These native fish are all very important to the ecosystem. Some of the small fish that lionfish eat keep the coral reefs clean by eating algae that grow on them. Without the fish that

2 clean the algae, the coral have begun to die. Many different species of fish live in the coral. When the coral die, they lose their home. Furthermore, because lionfish eat so much, larger fish like grouper and snapper have less food to eat. With less food to eat, the grouper and snapper populations have shrunk. Fishermen who catch and sell lobster, crab, shrimp, grouper, and snapper are now losing money. Lionfish have caused a lot of damage to the ecosystem in the Western Atlantic Ocean. It is impossible to capture all of the lionfish and bring them back to the Indo-Pacific where they belong. We also cannot train bigger fish to eat them. So what can be done about the lionfish? One idea that has become popular in the Caribbean and southern United States is to give the lionfish a new predator: people! Once the poisonous spines have been removed, lionfish are not only perfectly safe to eat, they are also delicious. Environmental scientists have been trying to get restaurants to put lionfish on their menus. They have also encouraged people to ask for lionfish from local supermarkets and fish-sellers. Although this idea may not completely solve the problem overnight, it is a step in the right direction. 1) Based on the information in paragraphs 2, 3, and 4, which of the following best describes an example of an invasive species? A. Polar bears live in the arctic. They mainly eat arctic seals. When hunting seals, they look for places in the ice that appear cracked or have holes. Seals use these spaces to breathe air while swimming underwater. When a seal comes up for air, the polar bear attacks. B. The Egyptian plover is a tiny bird that gets its food from a very dangerous place a crocodile s mouth! When a crocodile lies with its mouth open, the plover flies in and eats the bits of food stuck between the crocodile s teeth. The crocodile does not eat the plover. He gets his teeth cleaned and the plover gets a tasty meal. C. Blue jellyfish have been washing up on beaches along the West Coast from Oregon to San Diego. Some scientists believe that the number of jellyfish that have washed up may even be in the billions. The jellyfish normally live far off the coast. No one is sure how or why they are suddenly showing up on the beach. D. In the 1940 s, the brown tree snake was accidentally brought from its native habitat in the South Pacific to the island of Guam. On Guam, the tree snake population grew quickly. Few other animals hunted them. Not only did the tree snake cause the extinction of many native forest animals, it also began attacking people s pets and even small children. 2) As used in paragraph 5, the word theories is used to mean A. educated guesses B. scientific facts C. natural predators D. ocean scientists 3) Imagine that the author wanted to include more information in paragraph 6. Which of the following sentences would fit best in that paragraph? A. The lionfish is one of the most colorful and beautiful fish in the ocean. B. Getting stung by a lionfish is painful to humans, but usually is not deadly. C. One female lionfish can lay as many as 2 million eggs in her lifetime. D. The lionfish was first discovered in the coastal waters off of Florida in the 1990 s.

3 4) According to the information in the passage, why are lionfish so dangerous to the Western Atlantic Ocean ecosystem? I. II. III. the lionfish s body is covered in poisonous spines sharks are eating lionfish instead of their natural food lionfish are eating too many of the fish in the reef A. II only B. III only C. I and III D. I, II, and III 5) A slogan is a catchy saying or a phrase that is easy to remember. Based on information in the final paragraph, which slogan best sums up the environmental scientists idea to help solve the lionfish problem? A. If we can t beat them, let s eat them! B. Swim away to save the day! C. Get your wish and save lionfish! D. Send lionfish back where they belong! 6) Other than serving lionfish as food, how else can humans help stop the damage that lionfish cause as an invasive species in the Atlantic? Explain your ideas.

4 Answers and Explanations 1) D Core Standard: Integration of Knowledge belong in an ecosystem and causes harm to that ecosystem. The author then goes on to explain that the native animals and plants in an ecosystem live in a way that keeps things in balance. The author gives readers an example: the plants, blue jays, and beetles in Jerome s backyard. In paragraph 3, the author has readers imagine that Jerome decides to bring ducks into his backyard to eat the beetles. As the author tells us, Ducks are much bigger than blue jays. The ducks eat all of the beetles. The blue jays cannot find enough food. They all either fly away or die off. Now there are no blue jays, no beetles, and way too many ducks. The ducks also like eating the grass and flowers. Soon there is no grass and no flowers. The ducks have done a lot of damage to the backyard ecosystem. As the author informs us in paragraph 4, the ducks are an invasive species. They were not native to the backyard ecosystem. A human being (in this case, Jerome) put the ducks into an ecosystem where they did not belong. The ducks cause harm to the ecosystem because they do not belong there. If brown tree snakes were brought to Guam accidentally, they these tree snakes do not belong on Guam. If the tree snakes are causing harm to the ecosystem by causing native animals to go extinct, eating pets, and attacking children, then the snakes can be considered an invasive species. They were brought somewhere that they do not belong and they are damaging the ecosystem of this new place. Therefore (D) is correct. belong in an ecosystem and causes harm to that ecosystem. Polar bears and seals belong to the same arctic ecosystem. Polar bears eat the seals. This may cause harm to the seals, but it does not damage the ecosystem. Therefore (A) is incorrect. belong in an ecosystem and causes harm to that ecosystem. Based on the information in the answer choice, the Egyptian plover and the crocodile do not cause each other harm in fact, they both benefit from their relationship. The plover gets a tasty meal and the crocodile gets its teeth cleaned. There is no information in this answer choice to suggest that the plover or the crocodile is harming the ecosystem. Therefore (B) is incorrect. belong in an ecosystem and causes harm to that ecosystem. Although the blue jellyfish in this example do not belong on the shore, there is no information in the answer choice to suggest that they are causing harm to the ecosystem. Therefore (C) is incorrect. 2) A Core Standard: Craft and Structure theory (noun): an educated guess based on evidence; an idea that explains facts or events that is possibly true, but has yet to be proven; a hypothesis. In paragraph 5, the author writes: No one knows for sure how they got there, but there are some theories. We can use context clues hints from known words or phrases around the unknown word

5 or phrase to help us figure out what the word theories most nearly means. In paragraph 5, the author tells us that even though lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean, there are now millions of lionfish living in the Western Atlantic. The author tells us that no one knows for sure how the lionfish arrived in the Western Atlantic, but there are some theories. The author then explains two of the theories: lionfish came from aquariums damaged in a hurricane and lionfish eggs were brought over on ships. According to the author, no one can prove which theory is correct. Based on this information, we can tell that a theory is something that has yet to be proven. It is not a scientific fact that everyone agrees is true. Because no one knows for sure how the lionfish got to the Western Atlantic, all we have are theories ideas that have not yet been proven true. The theories that the author provides are both reasonable ideas. We may not know if either of them is true, but they sound like they could be true. They are educated guesses. Therefore (A) is correct. Based on the above information, we can tell that theories are educated guesses. They are not scientific facts that everyone agrees upon. Therefore (B) is incorrect. Based on the above information, we can tell that theories are educated guesses. They are not natural predators. Therefore (C) is incorrect. Based on the above information, we can tell that theories are educated guesses. They are not scientists who study the ocean. Therefore (D) is incorrect. 3) C Core Standard: Integration of Knowledge In paragraph 6, the author writes: One of the reasons why lionfish are so dangerous in the Western Atlantic reefs is that they have no natural predators there. Sharks and other large fish do not seem to think that the lionfish are food. Without a predator, the lionfish are free to swim, eat, and, of course, make more lionfish. The main purpose of this paragraph is to explain why the lionfish has been so successful in the Western Atlantic. Information about how many eggs a female lionfish can lay especially when that number is 2 million would fit into this paragraph well. The more eggs a female lionfish can lay, the more lionfish there will be in the reef. The more lionfish there are, the more damage they can cause. Therefore (C) is correct. Based on the above information, we can tell the main purpose of paragraph 6 is to explain why the lionfish has been so successful in the Western Atlantic. A sentence about how colorful and beautiful the lionfish is would not fit into this paragraph. According to the information in the passage, the lionfish s colorful appearance has nothing to do with why the lionfish is taking over the Western Atlantic. Therefore (A) is incorrect. Based on the above information, we can tell the main purpose of paragraph 6 is to explain why the lionfish has been so successful in the Western Atlantic. This particular information about the lionfish s sting would not fit into this paragraph. A sentence that said something about how the lionfish used its poisonous spines to keep predators away or trap fish before eating them would fit. This type of sentence would explain why the lionfish is successful at both eating and not being eaten. However, a sentence telling readers that the lionfish sting is painful but not deadly does not have any connection to why the lionfish has been successful. Therefore (B) is incorrect.

6 Based on the above information, we can tell the main purpose of paragraph 6 is to explain why the lionfish has been so successful in the Western Atlantic. Information about when and where the lionfish was first spotted in its invasive range is not related to the main purpose. Therefore (D) is incorrect. 4) B Core Standard: Key Ideas and Details In the first paragraph, the author tells us that the lionfish s body is covered with poisonous spines that can cause a very painful sting if you get too close. However, the spines are not what make the lionfish dangerous. The lionfish does have poisonous spines on its body, but these spines are not what make it dangerous. This eliminates option (I). In paragraph 6, the author writes: one of the reasons why lionfish are so dangerous in the Western Atlantic reefs is that they have no natural predators there. Sharks and other large fish do not seem to think that the lionfish is food. This information tells us that sharks are not eating the lionfish. This eliminates option (II). In paragraph 7 the author tells us that lionfish will also eat just about anything they can fit into their mouths, including smaller fish, lobsters, crabs, and shrimp. Lionfish eat all kinds of fish, including the small fish that keep the coral reef clean by eating algae that grow on them. This information shows us that the lionfish are eating too many of the fish in the reef. This supports option (III). Therefore (B) is correct. 5) A Core Standard: Integration of Knowledge In the final paragraph, the author tells us that while it is impossible to get all of the lionfish out of the Western Atlantic, there is one solution that might help. Because lionfish are perfectly safe to eat once their spines are removed environmental scientists have been trying to get restaurants to put lionfish on their menus and have also encouraged people to ask for lionfish from local supermarkets and fish-sellers. This information shows us that environmental scientists are trying to get people to eat lionfish. Even though this will not completely solve the problem, it might help. In other words, since we cannot beat the lionfish, we should eat them. Therefore (A) is correct. Based on the above information, we can tell that the environmental scientists idea to help solve the lionfish problem is to get people to eat lionfish. The slogan swim away to save the day does not have anything to do with eating lionfish. Therefore (B) is incorrect. Based on the above information, we can tell that the environmental scientists idea to help solve the lionfish problem is to get people to eat lionfish. The slogan Get your wish and save lionfish does not have anything to do with eating lionfish. Furthermore, the scientists do not want to save lionfish they want to get rid of them. Therefore (C) is incorrect.

7 Based on the above information, we can tell that the environmental scientists idea to help solve the lionfish problem is to get people to eat lionfish. The slogan Send lionfish back where they belong does not have anything to do with eating lionfish. Furthermore, the final paragraph tells us that it is impossible to capture all of the lionfish and bring them back to the Indo-Pacific where they belong. Therefore (D) is incorrect.

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