American Forests Are Being Overrun by Invasive Species

A recent plant survey discovered that numerous invasive non-native species are prospering in Ohio.

American Forests Are Being Overrun by Invasive Species

Invasive species that have been introduced to the United States over the last century are displacing numerous native plants, according to a recent botanical assessment of southwest Ohio. In order to determine how the Queen City’s plant diversity has altered over the last two centuries, biologists from the University of Cincinnati are retracing two extensive surveys that were carried out 100 years apart. They concentrated on sections of cemeteries, Mill Creek’s banks, and public parks that have been preserved from development for the last 200 years. Thomas G. Lea, a botanist from Cincinnati, did a plant survey in Cincinnati between 1834 and 1844, and the most recent study by UC continues his work. He gathered specimens for a herbarium during that period and donated them to the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. Before his death in 1844, Lea had categorized 714 different species. In 1849, his brother published a posthumous edition of his work.

A century later, renowned UC botanist E. Lucy Braun followed in Lea’s footsteps by performing a second plant survey in Cincinnati. Her 1934 research, which was published in The American Midland Naturalist, discovered more than 1,400 species. She relied on Lea’s precise notes to take her back to the locations he visited, many of which had been transformed over time into houses, streets, or apartment complexes.

In southwest Ohio, where urban expansion did not trample over natural areas, biologist Denis Conover of the University of California at Davis and his co-author Robert Bergstein followed in the footsteps of Braun and Lea. Numerous species that were intentionally planted as landscape plants were discovered to be thriving in the wild. “The spread of nonnative invasive species into wooded natural areas in southwestern Ohio threatens the continued survival of native flora and fauna. Efforts by park managers and volunteers to control invasive plant species have become a major part of their duties. This effort will be required in perpetuity and will be at great expense both monetarily and timewise due to collateral damage to native plants, wildlife, and humans caused by the extensive use of herbicides, chainsaws, and other mechanical equipment,”

Source: This news is originally published by scitechdaily