Trace Invaders

    The Challenge

    Develop a tool to trace invasive species in your neighborhood over time!


    Ecosystems around the world are facing threats from aliens!  These aliens may be Earthlings, but instead of coming in peace, these invaders can cause environmental or economic harm, or harm to human health.   When introduced to non-native habitats, invasive species (which can be plants, animals, or fungi) compete for the same space and resources of native species, and in some cases, they can drive an entire species to extinction!   Changes in climate patterns can further worsen the impacts of invasive species  on native species.

    Your challenge is to develop a tool, such as a crowdsourcing application, to gather information about invasive species in your neighborhood.

    1. Pick an ecological niche of your choice or of significance to your location.  For example, participants in Seattle, Washington, may be interested in the Pacific rainforest, or participants in Brisbane, Australia, may choose the Great Barrier Reef.
    2. Develop a tool to collect information about species in the niche over time from local residents, observers, and visitors to the region. 
    3. Consider tagging the information by date of observation (whether it is current or historical data) to compare trends of species over time.
    4. Integrate environmental data into the observations to compare changes in local land cover, water resources, and weather to changes in the biological community.
    5. Consider creative ways to share your data through visualizations or other media!

    This challenge addresses the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to engage all countries and all stakeholders in a collaborative partnership.  The SDGs aim to build a better future for all people by achieving sustainable development in three dimensions – economic, social, and environmental – in the spirit of strengthened global solidarity:

    • Goal 6.6: By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.
    • Goal 11.4: Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
    • Goal 14.2: By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans.
    • Goal 15.5:  Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.
    • Goal 15.9:  By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, developmental processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts.

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    SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.