The spread of invasive plants across North America reduces local plant and animal diversity but, with careful use of biological control, invaded areas can be restored.
The spread of invasive plant species is thought to affect native plants and animals, but, often, knowledge of ecosystem effects is rudimentary or anecdotal. Land managers, whether they are private individuals, NGO's, or state and federal organizations, need to develop and implement better management to protect native species and maintain ecosystem services derived from our natural environments.
We have shown that amphibians, already threatened by a multitude of other stressors, are negatively affected by plant invasions. These negative effects appear to be a function of plant chemistry. In addition to documenting the negative ecosystem effects of invasive plants, we have developed biological control programs for a number of different invasive species. Careful use and implementation of biocontrol plus training of land managers, has the potential to restore invaded communities. We have successfully implemented this approach for purple loosestrife across North America and thousands of invaded wetlands are presently being restored.
Herbicidal treatments to suppress invasive plants would cost millions of dollars annually. For purple loosestrife alone, the single largest infestation in Washington State would require $800,000 annually for herbicide treatment. The development of biological control (approx $1 million in development costs) has allowed us to deploy millions of insects across North America in 35+ states. The attack of these herbivores is reducing purple loosestrife abundance across the continent and saving millions of dollars in control costs. In addition, native plants and animals re-colonize formerly uninhabitable wetlands. In addition, pesticide input into sensitive wetlands has been reduced greatly.
- Other Federal non-USDA (e.g., NSF, NIH, DOA, DOD)
- Private (e.g., commodity groups, foundations, companies)
- State or Municipal (e.g., NYSDAM)
- Federal Formula Funds - Research (e.g., Hatch, McIntire-Stennis, Animal Health)
- Multiple State Departments of Fish and Game or of Natural Resources
- Major Universities (20+)
- Bureau of Reclamation
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
- National Park Servcie
- Department of Defense
- Private individuals (100+)
- Bernd Blossey, Cornell University
- John Maerz, Cornell University