Invasive plant species are those that are non-native to the ecosystem and that have the potential to cause environmental or economic harm, or that pose a risk to human health. Invasive species seeds can be introduced to an environment by the wind, water systems, or by animals traveling through the area by way of fur, feathers or droppings. Seeds can also be introduced to an environment by humans when they are brought in on shoes and clothing when traveling, or more intentionally through landscaping or planting.
Invasive species prove a threat as the resources in any ecosystem are limited. Simply put, the introduction of any new species requires more competition between existing species for those same resources. For plants, this includes the soil, nutrients, moisture, and the space necessary to grow in the environment. A species can be qualified as invasive if it spreads quickly and aggressively. Most invasive species have expansive root systems that can easily choke out other species, therefore crowding out the native species and changing the ratio of what lives there.
When native flora is reduced in an environment, the entire ecosystem changes. Herbivores that live in the ecosystem and depend on the native sources are forced to turn to other food sources or must migrate to new areas that can sustain their food sources. Further, invasive plants can degrade soil quality which leads to decreased quality of agricultural lands and a potential impact on a community’s economy.
By purposefully removing invasive plant species and by intentionally fostering the growth of native species, the natural ecosystems can flourish, but this is only possible by the active intentions of those working to ensure the health of the environment.