Invasive species are organisms introduced to a region and cause harm either ecologically or economically. Not all species that are introduced are problematic, but the ones that are can decimate an area and run up a large price tag in the process. The economic impact is so high because invasive species can affect crops, housing markets, tourism industries, and fishing industries. As bad as the economic impact is, the ecological threat is even more unfortunate. When a species is introduced and outcompetes all the native species, it can cause previously healthy populations of plants and animals to disappear. This can cause permanent changes to ecosystems, which causes ripple effects in many factors of our lives. Read on to learn more about a few of the kinds of invasive species.
Aquatic invasive species can include plants, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, or reptiles, just to name a few. In West Michigan, we are surrounded by many beautiful bodies of water and there are many efforts taking place to protect them from aquatic invasives.
Terrestrial Plant Invasives
Terrestrial invasive species include a wide variety of organisms but one of the most common that the public hears about is invasive plants. Invasive plants can be just as destructive to an ecosystem as animals, insects, and diseases.
Invasive insect species can wipe out entire industries. Once an insect is introduced to an area, an infestation can take out fields of crops or entire stands of forest. Due to their small size, they can be easily transported on animals, vehicles, boots, or even the wind.
What can we do?
Invasive species are commonly introduced and spread by humans, although once a species is introduced its spread can be intensified by animals and weather patterns. Buying certain plants or aquarium species, transporting ballast water, and transporting invasive species on vehicles, boats, or hiking gear are common ways humans aid invasive species. Educating yourself on how to minimize the introduction and spread, and the species of concern in your area are critical to helping combat invasive species. At the Ottawa Conservation District we work with the West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area coordinator. This WMCISMA completes a ton of work in West Michigan, follow the links below to learn more!
The Strike Team typically operates May through October each year and serves the community by providing information, identification, and eradication efforts for high-threat invasive species.
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) is a small insect native to Japan. The District has crews solely dedicated to surveying and treating hemlock trees year-round.