Invasion Ecology

Invasion Ecology

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We are currently undergoing a biological invasion of exotic species into our native plant community. The development of these exotics can, in some cases, cause catastrophic impacts to the invaded territories. To understand what is going on around us, an interactive inventory of these plants and their characteristics was created by the Invasive Plant Monitor.

What is Invasion Ecology?

The earth is separated by large geographic boundaries, that are virtually impassable to plants without human intervention. The seeds or whole adult plants themselves maybe introduced to an area where the conditions are suitable to them and they begin to create a more stable population. This population then competes for space or habitat with the native plant community of the area. These exotic species may then be able to out compete the natives because of a lack of predator or disease in the new area that is not adapted to the exotics presence. In other cases, these invaders can harm the ecology of the area by causing a detrimental effect to native species of plants or insects that would normally feed on the native species and can no longer so because of the establishment of this exotic population.

Invasions happen to an area over time and with varying degrees of severity.This time is usually broken down into four stages; Transport, Establishment, Spread & Impact. Keeping track of the health of the community, density of the impact and identifying the species is a proactive way to educate the community and decrease the impact on our community.

Image from Duke University Biology Department

Need more information?

The New Jersey List of Invasive Species