A Common Sense View of Invasive Plants

Via the Garden Professors blog a sensible letter in Nature from Mark Davis and 18 other ecologists on the tired, in my opinion, native vs. invasive species debate:

It is time for scientists, land managers and policy-makers to ditch this preoccupation with the native–alien dichotomy and embrace more dynamic and pragmatic approaches to the conservation and management of species — approaches better suited to our fast-changing planet.

Clearly, natural-resource agencies and organizations should base their management plans on sound empirical evidence and not on unfounded claims of harm caused by non-natives. Another valuable step would be for scientists and professionals in conservation to convey to the public that many alien species are useful.

Amen.

More from that article here.

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10 Comments

  1. A weed is filling a niche in the little eco system of your garden. So a green way to do weed control is to find a complimentary species that could replace the weed in your garden by filling the niche the weed used to occupy.

  2. HAs anyone ever tried to get rid of Pigweed (without borrowing a pig)? That dang weed invaded our garden 3 years ago and we can’t get rid of it.The pigweed keeps choking everything we want planted out.And the chickens won’t even touch the stuff.

    Any suggestions?

  3. I think there is an important distinction between aliens and invasive aliens. Some weedy species are pioneers and are rapidly replaced or are useful to wildlife so they are controlled by being eaten. The plants that overrun natural areas do so because nothing controls them, ie. eats them. That means they are replacing species that native birds, insects and other animals do eat, thus impoverishing their habitat.

  4. wow, that is really intersesting, coming from ecologists.My audubon group focuses quite a bit on non native invasive species. I am shameful caretaker to an Ailanthus tree that is probably over 50 years old, but one of the only large trees in my yard. It is home to a large black rat snake, whose shed skin we spot each spring, dangling from a branch.

  5. The following is an important excerpt from the ecologists’ manuscript:

    “We are not suggesting that conservationists abandon their efforts to mitigate serious problems caused by some introduced species, or that governments should stop trying to prevent potentially harmful species from entering their countries. But we urge conservationists and land managers to organize priorities around whether species are producing benefits or harm to biodiversity, human health, ecological services and economies. Nearly two centuries on from the introduction of the concept of nativeness, it is time for conservationists to focus much more on the functions of species, and much less on where they originated.”

  6. Yeah, I have to make a distinction with weeds too. A weed I can eat and all the others I don’t know yet. I try to learn new weeds each year to expand my edible horizons.

  7. I can let some of my non-native aggression dissolve, but you’ll have to find someone else who’ll go more kindly and gently and commmon sensically against pampas grass —- and with much less disdain for the idiots who plant that crap. And don’t get me started on fennel. Short of trespassing and napalm and doing the macarena I’ll go out of my way to de-flourish a stand of that stuff.

  8. @Will: I’ve never seen any use for pampas grass–but why the hatred for the fennel? If we were all eating it like we should, and crafting our own thrysus..ez…thrysies? (don’t know the plural) for our Dionysian revels, we wouldn’t have a fennel problem at all.

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