Impacts of Riparian Invasive Plant Species to Native Fauna
Native wildlife coevolved with native plants for millennia. Non-native plants may be present in a greater distribution than ever before and may be disrupting the natural dynamics of ecosystems more than ever. Forty two percent of threatened and endangered (T&E) wildlife species and 68% of T&E plants are harmed by non-native plant competition and indirect habitat effects. The impacts to wildlife from non-native plants are often assumed to be negative, but the ecological mechanisms are difficult to study. This presentation will provide a synthesis of the facts, explore the rumors, and try to set the record straight. Evidence of herbivory on and invertebrate use of native versus non-native plants generally shows greater use and wildlife diversity on native plants. The impacts to ecosystem processes such as, stream dynamics and the hydrologic cycle, are more complex and difficult to determine, but evidence does show some negative effects. Instances where non-native plants are benign or beneficial to wildlife do exist and circumstances where non-native plant treatment is not practical are common. Impacts to wildlife from tamarisk, Russian olive, phragmites, arundo, and other riparian and wetland invasive plants may be significant and will be detailed. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is available for planning and funding assistance on non-native plant treatment and management.