Those of us who care deeply about native plants and habitats understand how important they are to our sense of place. But even as we are working to protect our plant heritage from land development and other pressures, native flora across the country – in our backyards, along our roadways, on our farms and ranches, in our parks and natural areas – are facing a less obvious but equally serious threat from non-native invasive plants. Here are just a few of the problems caused by Invasive species:
- After habitat destruction, invasive species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity. Invasives threaten the survival of native plants and animals, interfere with ecosystem functions, and hybridize with native species resulting in negative genetic impacts.
- Invasive species impede industry, threaten agriculture, endanger human health, and are becoming increasingly harder to control as a result of rapid global commercialization and human travel.
- Invasive species are a significant threat to almost half of the native species currently listed as federally endangered.
- The costs to prevent, monitor and control invasive species combined with the costs to crop damage, fisheries, forests, and other resources cost the U.S. $137 billion annually.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center takes a multi-pronged approach to addressing the harm caused by invasive plants, combining public outreach, research, monitoring, and the appropriate control and eradication of invasive plants.
INVADERS OF TEXAS
Citizen Scientists Combat Invasive Species
The Wildflower Center has joined with the Texas Forest Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Master Naturalists , Houston Advanced Research Center and others to recruit volunteers who detect and report invasive species in their communities. The Invaders of Texas program provides training and materials to volunteers who find, track, describe and photograph invasive species and report occurrences to a centralized database on the texasinvasives.org website. The anticipated outcomes of this citizen scientist program include a statewide network of volunteers contributing to our knowledge of the distribution of invasive species in Texas and increased public awareness of the dangers imposed by invasive species and what steps citizens can take when they encounter them; and reduced spread of invasive species through more timely control and eradication.
Learn more at www.texasinvasives.org
City of Austin Invasive Species Management Plan
The Wildflower Center, using a grant from the City of Austin, worked with city departments and representatives from Keep Austin Beautiful, Austin Parks Foundation and the Austin Invasive Species Coalition to develop what will be the first municipal plan in Texas and perhaps only the second nationwide (after Portland). The plan identifies 24 invasive plant species on the city's 39,000 acres of land and potential management strategies.
Visit Austin's Invasive Species Management Plan
Texas Invasive Plant & Pest Council (TIPPC)
Stakeholders from state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, academia, green industry and the public sector had long discussed the need for one unified body to address the threat of invasive species in Texas. On June 2, 2008, the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council (TIPPC) became formally established in the State of Texas. TIPPC originated as a motion from the floor at the second statewide Invasive Plant Conference held at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin, Texas in November 2007. On Friday, April 18, 2008, members of the steering committee established at that conference signed the bylaws creating the very first Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council. The objectives of TIPPC are to promote understanding and awareness of invasive plant and pest impacts in Texas; provide a forum for the exchange of scientific, educational and technical information; and support research and restoration activities that reduce impacts of invasive plants and pests in Texas.
Be PlantWise: A Partnership for Conservation
Be PlantWise is a partnership between the National Park Service
, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
, The Garden Club of America
, and the National Invasive Species Council
to educate the public and communities about best management practices to prevent harmful invasive plants from invading parklands and natural areas. Education is a critical mechanism for changing behaviors and creating an environment where citizens understand their responsibility for managing plants in their homes and communities. Invasive plant management, like litter control or fire proofing homes is an issue that can influenced greatly by the public. The PlantWise website (www.beplantwise.org
) has dowloadable brochures, posters and bookmarks outlining the problem of invasive species with helpful tips how homeowners can prevent introductions of invasives, manage their landscapes in the presence of introduced species, and use native plants or non-invasive plants as an alternatives.
Invasive Species Research
The Wildflower Center’s invasive species research program encompasses many aspects of invasive plant biology and ecology. including the management of specific invasive species. Wildflower Center ecologists have determined that summer seasonal fires can eliminate invasive, non-native King Ranch bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum) while leaving native plants, flora and foliage intact. The Center has also found that some invasive species like bastard cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum) can be “out invaded” by over sowing with aggressive native seed mixes. More recently, the Wildflower Center has been conducting re-vegetation studies along roadsides to make recommendations about native seed mixes to roadside managers across the southwest to control invasive species, which can spread rapidly using the nation’s highways as vectors.