Episode 405: Invasive Species
Although world ecosystems are in danger from a whole host of varied and distinct threats, there are few issues more difficult to tackle or more complex to understand than invasive species control. These species arrive in an ecosystem in which they are not native and have not evolved, with no existing space within the habitat. Invasive species may outcompete, overtake, or cause general harm and disruption to their new ecosystems. Elimination and control is a necessary part of conservation, everywhere from Virginia to the world’s most remote island.
In This Episode
A special thanks to all of our staff and guests in this episode of Untamed!
- Mark Sutphin, Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Dr. Tracy Leskey, USDA Agricultural Research Service
- Alex Wehrung, Wildlife Center of Virginia
- Elizabeth Fogel, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
- Kevin Heffernan, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Division of Natural Heritage
According to the National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC), “Invasive species are plants, animals, or pathogens that are non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration, and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm.” Learn what determines if a species is invasive on the NISIC website.
Learn more about some of the problematic invasive species in this episode:
Spotted Lanternflies: These agricultural pests are causing serious problems in a variety of crops and currently have been found in 11 states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Learn how dogs are helping to sniff out the problem!
Zebra mussels: These organisms are considered one of the most destructive invasive species in North America; they've been detected in a variety of moss ball products intended for use in aquariums.
Love gardening? Make sure you choose native plants! The National Wildlife Federation and National Audubon Society both have a native plants database, perfect for finding suggestions for your immediate area. And don't forget to play the Wildlife Center of Virginia's pollinator bingo -- each card is designed for specific regions throughout the United States, with only native plants listed.
Learn more about particularly problematic invasive species in your state, along with what you can do. Many agencies have tools for reporting invasive species -- a nice way to get involved in citizen science, too! In Virginia, check out the Virginia Invasive Species Working Group and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Map and Report. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has more information on the "most wanted" invasive species in our state. Wildlife trafficking is also a very problematic issue, which can help further the spread of invasive species.
Remember, prevention can be a critical first step in managing invasive species. If you have an unwanted pet -- including fish, reptiles, and amphibians -- don't let it loose! Responsible pet ownership means protecting animals and the environment. If you're backpacking, paddling, caving, or having other outdoor recreational adventures, visit PlayCleanGo and take action.
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Here's What You Can Do
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