UNK Biology Department Awarded $83,000 for Exotic Species Studies

Dr. W. Wyatt Hoback
UNK Department of Biology, 308.865.8602

The study of agriculture and related topics has proven to be very valuable, figuratively and monetarily. The Department of Biology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney was recently awarded $83,000 for the U.S Department of Agriculture Higher Education Challenge Grant Program. The grant is entitled, “ESCAPE: Exotic Species Curriculum for Agricultural Problem-Solving Education.”

The project’s website, www.unk.edu/ESCAPE, best explains the background for the research. “Exotic species introductions have had enormous economic and ecological impacts across the globe. The movement of plants, animals, microbes, and diseases from their areas of origin to new environments has resulted in invasions that threaten to irreparably change many of the world’s ecosystems. As global travel and trade expand, we can expect to see greater movement of species, resulting in greater problems”

“The goals of the project are to educate students and the general public about introduced species. These species arrive through various means, including via trade, agriculture, horticulture, and by mistake. Their impacts range for innocuous to economically and environmentally devastating. In fact, introduced species represent the second greatest threat to biodiversity, after habitat loss,” Skinner said.

As part of the grant, a new traditional class entitled Exotic Species Biology is being taught during the summer 2002 term via the long distance learning center. The development of the ESCAPE website was also a part of the project