Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Be Careful What You Plant

Believe it or not, the plants that you introduce into an ecosystem have a great impact. Previously in this blog there was a post regarding biodiversity written by Mary HoeflerH.  Hoefler stated, “Invasive species are species introduced to an environment in which they are not native.  They take over native species’ resources and can cause irreparable damage. Invasive species are the second largest threat to biodiversity.” Invasive species can come in the form of weeds, flowers, trees, insects, reptiles, and animals. For this post I am directing my attention to plant life.

How does one flower or tree affect so much? Take the Purple Loosestrife for example,

While this is a very beautiful plant and provides beautiful color throughout the summer months, the reproduction of the plant greatly impacts the surrounding habitat such as a wetland. This plant reproduces both by seed that can be carried by waterways and root fragments. Like many other invasive plants, if only one plant is introduced to a watershed it will multiply like rabbits.  It also requires special guidelines for removal due to the root fragments because multiple others will grow in its place if done improperly. So if a single plant is introduced to the new environment, it spreads and takes all necessities from the native green life and subsequently destroys the life reliant on the native greens.  There have been attempts to remove invasive plants like the Purple Loosestrife, but many attempts result in billions of dollars spent and a return of the plant soon after.

What are some other plants that are considered invasive? Here are a few sites that can answer that thoroughly,

On this site they include all invasive species that can be categorized by organism types, habitats, species names, and locations,

Other reasons why introduction of invasive plants changes biodiversity: When a plant that is not native to a new environment it can carry foreign stowaways. Such stowaways include insects, or even viruses that can kill other plants. 

How do these invasive plants start? Many start as ornamental plants from nurseries and garden shops. Others instances are as a result of industrial trade.

To help prevent any more invasive species from affecting ecosystems: thoroughly research the plants that you choose for your surroundings, try to buy material locally. Refer to:

Did You Know?

  • Ballast Water: Since 95% of all foreign goods by weight enter the U.S. through its ports, the potential for invasive species impacts on coastal communities is immense.
  •         The invasive algae Caulerpa is thought to have been introduced to U.S. waterways after being discarded from aquaria.
For more interesting facts about invasive species to to:

Source for Purple Loosestrife:

Written by: Tiffany Williams

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