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Interaction of Pollinators With Native and Nonnative Plant Species

Iowa land is abundant with both native and nonnative plant species. Observing both types of plants, we can gather a better understanding in regards to the pollinators they attract and if these choices affect native and nonnative plant species in any way.

Hazleton, Iowa

Driving Question

  • Since native plants are native to our environment, do you think they are a better fit than nonnative plants for our pollinators? Why or why not?

Probing Questions

  • What are native plants and nonnative plants? 
  • As you observe plant species what do you notice about the number and types of pollinators you see on each of the plants? 
  • Do you notice that some pollinators prefer certain plants, if so why, do you think this is?
  • Do plants have any other uses besides being food for pollinators, herbivores and omnivores? 
  • How are native Iowa plant species beneficial to our environment, is there a reason to preserve them?

Classroom Suggestions

Students could: 

  • Collect data in regards to the relationships between pollinators, and native and nonnative plant species.
  • Determine if any pollinators or native species are at risk and develop a plan to preserve them.
  • While investigating different plants students could make a book about individual plants that includes pictures, how to identify plant species and possible uses.

Relevant Related Resources

Pollinators | Iowa DNR: Information about pollinators and how to plant pollinator habitats.
Plants Database | USDA: Type in the name of plant to see if it is native to your area.
Resources for Pollinator Conservation | USDA: Several documents in regards to pollinator conservation and enhancements​​​​​​​.
Restoration and Management Seminar Series | Tallgrass Prairie Center: Multiple educational videos and resources related to native plants for teachers.
Flowers Seeking Pollinators | California Academy of Sciences: A lesson about plant reproduction and using data to construct explanations about which flowers are the most attractive to different pollinators.

    Iowa Core Alignment


    Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem

    Credit Info

    Submitted by Nikki Shannon as part of her Iowa STEM Teacher Externship program.

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