Did you know it is National Invasive Species Awareness Week? The Environmental Protection Agency describes an ”invasive species” as a plant or animal that is non-native (or alien) to an ecosystem, and whose introduction is likely to cause economic, human health, or environmental damage in that ecosystem. Once established, it is extremely difficult to control their spread. It is estimated that damage done by invasive plants alone costs the U.S. an estimated $34.7 billion a year.
While all species compete to survive, invasive species appear to have specific traits or specific combinations of traits that allow them to outcompete native species. This is evident to all those who have hiked in Ohio and have witnessed honeysuckle take over entire areas. Honeysuckle rapidly moves in an area and takes over, forming a dense shrub layer that crowds and shades out native species. This dense shrub layer creates an denser shade than native plants, thus reducing both plant diversity and nest sites for many forest interior species…resulting in a decline in the bird populations. It’s a domino effect upon diversity!
Approximately 100 of the known 700 terrestrial non-native plants in Ohio cause problems in natural areas. What can you do to reduce invasive species in Ohio? Join the Sierra Club for a watershed restoration event! No matter where you live in the state, we will have a watershed clean up near you! Check out our Clean Water Google Calendar for events near your home today!