Develops Strategies To Control Exotic Plant Species
Science Daily Magazine
BLACKSBURG, VA., Sept. 3, 2002 – In an effort to minimize
the damage done by non-native plant species, Jim Parkhurst,
associate professor of fisheries and wildlife in the College
of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech, has been developing
strategies for citizens and government agencies to control
the exotic species invading America's ecosystems. According
to the Federal Interagency Committee on Noxious and Exotic
Weeds, there are approximately 1,400 plants in this country
that are not native to this continent, 94 of which are causing
significant ecological and economic problems. By some estimates,
about 4,600 acres per day nationwide fall victim to the
effects of non-native species.
In addition to threatening
biodiversity, reducing habitat quality, and impairing
ecosystem functioning, these invasives exact a substantial
economic price. Federal agencies now estimate that the
loss in productivity among our primary agricultural commodities
due to competition with exotic plants totals about $7.4
billion dollars annually, and an additional $3.6 to $5.4
billion is spent trying to control these pest species.
In response to the posing threat,
the Federal Interagency Committee has developed a national
initiative that consists of a three-pronged approach to
deal with the exotics -- prevent, control, and restore.
With those basic objectives in mind, Parkhurst has identified
control strategies that do not rely on chemical treatment
for use by the average landowner in order to reduce and
prevent the invasion.
"Begin the task of recognizing
or distinguishing exotics from native species through
identification guides and quality time on your land,"
says Parkhurst. "The first step in fighting any battle
lies in knowing your enemy.
"Another way of ensuring the
protection of our biodiversity and ecosystem health is
by always trying to use native materials," explains Parkhurst.
"Commercial nurseries and wholesale retailers make this
step more difficult because native plants are often more
expensive than most of the non-native stock; but as the
demand for native stock increases, some nurseries will
respond to that market and begin providing a greater supply
and diversity of materials."
Some of the most noxious problem
species are those that inhabit aquatic systems because
these species can be transported from one system to another
by the simple act of moving a water craft from pond to
pond or dumping the remains of a bait bucket overboard.
To prevent the collected seed, eggs, or other reproductive
parts of an organism from spreading, Parkhurst suggests
thoroughly scrubbing down any boat or towing vehicle used
to go boating or fishing, as well as flush out the motor,
if using one. Finally, Parkhurst recommends taking a class
or attending a workshop where integrated pest management
will be described and demonstrated.