Friday, June 1, 2012

Invasive Species and Flooding

Flooding can spread invasive species, both plants and animals over a large area in a very short time. Here are some articles dealing with this topic:
Invasive species can actually increase the risk of a flood. A few examples:
  • An invasive species that has a taproot replaces native plants that have a fibrous root system. Fibrous root systems stabilize the soil and resist erosion; taproots are much less effective at stabilizing the soil. Beach vitex, (Vitex rotundifolia) is one example of this type of invasive plant that is crowding out the native plants like sea oats and beach panic grasses and increasing erosion of beaches where it grows.
  • An invasive species like miconia shades out and greatly decreases the native understory plants allowing runoff from rain and soil erosion to become severe. This increases the risk of flooding.
  • Invasive plants can grow so quickly and produce so much biomass that they fill up waterways, increasing the risk of flooding. 
Native species provide many services to people. Things we often take for granted. Like flood control.
The article, Five Years After Katrina, An Important Lesson Goes Unlearned

The services provided to us by native species and natural features, such as marshes and other wetlands are called ecosystem services. These ecosystem services can be interrupted or even cease altogether when invasive species are allowed to invade and infest natural areas. When we protect our national parks, state parks and other natural areas, we are protecting our own future and the future of our children. It is easy to be Plantwise.
There are some really easy ways to help right in your backyard:
  • Stop planting invasive exotic plants in landscaping
  • Choose native or at least non-invasive exotics for your landscaping
  • Properly manage any invasive plants already in your landscaping until it can be replaced, by removing all berries or fruit before birds and other wildlife can spread it
  • Your state invasive species council has an informative list of invasive species for your state
  • Lists for alternatives to plant can be found at, your native plant society or your invasive species council