Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Invasive Species - Definitely Foe, no Friend

Invasive species are typically non-native or foriegn organisms that have taken up residence in a new place and environment and their growth and spread are out of control.

Why are invasive species a problem?
No Checks & Balances
Species within a given ecosystem depend on each other for survival & population control. When a ‘new resident’ comes into the system, they may not fit in and can throw the whole system off.

Changes the Natural Habitat
Foriegn species alter the abiotic & biotic environment and changes the ability of some organisms to survive
Examples: new trees that native animals can’t live in or eat from, they lose their homes, die or move away
Examples: zebra mussels taking up too much oxygen in the water.

Out-compete Native Species
The alien plant consumes resources faster or takes up space before similar native species do.

Alien plant species might genetically mix with native species and change the entire make-up and ecological role of the native plant.

Why Should we care?
•Decrease local Biodiversity
–When foreign plants invade a new area, these species displace or may even harm native species. The foreign plant may cause larger environmental problems, including extinction. •
–Impacts natural resources like water, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries
•It costs lots of money to get rid of foreign species and the seeds/pollen from these plants may impact local food chain and food supply dynamics.

What can be done to stop invaders?
Biological Control
–Using Natural Enemies to keep the invade population growth in check.

• Mechanical Control
–Physically removing or destroying the invaders.

What else can be done?

–International, Federal, & State Agencies

What can I do?
• Education
–Community Outreach, Public Service Campaigns••

Action Items:
Tell others about Invasive Plant Species and the problems they cause.
Work to promote planting and gardening native plants, flowers, and trees in your neighborhood.
Create a Public Service Annoucement Poster to educate your neighbors and friends about invasive plant species.

•Tell your audience:
–WHO are the players - the name of the invasive plant species.
–WHAT is the problem - the problems caused by invasive species.
–WHY they should care.
–HOW they can help solve the problem.

When you're done, your WANTED poster might look something the one created by one of my students involved with an After-school Program at Normandy Senior High School in St. Louis, Missouri.

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