10/5 Glossy Buckthorn

Last week, we learned a lot about invasive species. One day, we all went on a walk around campus pointing out the invasive species that we saw and learning about how they work in the environment. We were able to rip up some like glossy buckthorn or grapevine, and that was really fun. I learned a lot about how glossy buckthorn transfers their seeds through birds. The plant gives off smells that the birds like, and when they eat the berries, they feel sick and have diarrhea. When they do, that spreads the seeds and then the glossy buckthorn can reproduce. The thing that is really annoying about this is that because the birds keep eating the berries and spreading the seeds, then it nearly impossible to get rid of them, and we are stuck with them forever.


I really liked this project. It was really interesting to learn about glossy buckthorns and how they have changed the environment ( for the worse ). I think that one way that I can use this in my life is that even if plants like the glossy buckthorn look pretty, then still don’t plant them or spread them because they are bad for the environment and the food web. When I learned about this, I was actually surprised by how fast glossy buckthorn messed up the environment. Some invasive species, like fragrant water lilies, take five years to grow a 15 foot circle of lilies, and the glossy buckthorn only needed 1 to 2 years to spread ALL OVER Michigan.  I think that I participated pretty well on this project, but I think that I did get distracted with pulling out glossy buckthorns. I think that one thing that I could have done differently is that I should have paid more attention and not pulling out plants.


  • What are people doing to stop the spread of glossy buckthorns?
  • If the birds get poisoned from eating the berries, then why do the birds keep eating them?
  • What were glossy buckthorns natural predators in their native habitat?




9/27 Parachuting Cats

 On Wednesday and Thursday, we learned about the parachuting of cats in Borneo. In the 1950s,  Borneo had an outbreak of Malaria caused by the destruction of forests and the building of different plantations and farmland. More mosquitoes came, and so the outbreak occurred. After a short time, the World Health Organization made a chemical called DDT ( dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane ) to kill the mosquitoes. It worked, but DDT also killed the wasps that ate the thatch – eating caterpillars, so the population of the caterpillars went up. As the population of the caterpillars grew, the peoples roofs started to decay and then collapsed! As well as killing the wasps, DDT also started poisoning and killing other insects that the lizards ate, and poisoned the lizards, which the cats ate, and all the cats started to die! So, with the cat population down, the rats started to come back, and brought diseases with them to. The rats had brought in OTHER diseases like, typhus and hantavirus.  So with the rats bringing all these diseases in, the World Health Organization decided to parachute cats into Borneo to hunt the disease – giving rats

When we learned this, I was very surprised by how these events created such a domino effect. DDT caused more problems than it fixed! I think that one way that you could use this knowledge is: don’t overuse chemicals, or don’t use them at all. In this case, a chemical was needed to kill the mosquitoes,  but they overused it, and so it caused more problems. So, if you NEED to use chemicals, then at least don’t overuse them. One of the ways that we learned about this is that we created a drawing of the cycle, a scene of the outbreak, etc, and I really enjoyed that, because the effect that it caused was really interesting to learn about and recreate. With this project, I think I participated fairly well, but I know I could have participated more. I think that one thing that i could have done differently is doing more research before Annabella and me started on the drawing.



  • Was DDT banned after the outbreak?
  • How did the cats get out of the parachutes after they land?
  • How many cats did they parachute into Borneo?

Owl Letter

Dear Mrs. Cuttatree, 


My name is the Eastern Screech Owl ( Otus asio ), and I am writing you this letter to convince you to cancel the building of the Uppity Resort. I am mostly reddish – brown with some white and grey on my face and stomach and a little of my wings. I have big bright yellow eyes and a sharp and narrow beak. I am also a nocturnal bird and have really good night vision, 8 times better than a human, which I think is pretty cool. I am 18 to 23 cm tall and I weigh  125 to 250 grams. I also have a wingspan of 14.5 to 17.5 cm. I usually lay around 2 to 8 to 3 to 5 eggs in a clutch in our little tree cavity. If you cut down all those trees for the Uppity Resort, then I will have nowhere to go to lay my eggs and my species could be in trouble. In the winter, I do not migrate, though if the weather is severely bad, then I might move my home out of range in search of food. Like I said, I live in the cavities of trees and I have my eggs there as well. The forest doesn’t just provide me with shelter, it provides me with food. My typical diet involves microone rodents, deer mice, wood and Norway rats, chipmunks, cotton rats, squirrels shrews, bats, moles, larger insects, smaller songbirds, Northern Bobwhite, Rock Dove, Ruffed Grouse is just 7% of my diet! Other prey may include small fish, small snakes, small lizards, softshell turtles, small frogs, toads, salamanders, and invertebrates such as crayfish, snails, spiders, earthworms, scorpions, and centipedes. I also sometimes fish at small holes in the lake. If you build the Uppity Resort and kick me out, there will be a lot more mice and rodents that no one will like getting in their rooms. The place will be overrun by squirrels, and other rodents and reptiles. Even if i was able to stay, i wouldn’t be able to reproduce as fast because for a while, the animals will be scared away by the building process.  So please Mrs. Cuttatree, please please reconsider building the Uppity Resort.