Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blue Team: Lia Fernandez

All invasive plants are not harmful to us, but there are some plants that are growing and reproducing, creating harm in our wildlife. There are about 103 invasive plants in Florida and they are growing by the day. Most people refer to invasive plants as exotic things that don’t belong here. This meaning doesn’t really inform you of the harm it’s causing to our environment. After talking to professionals who know and understand invasive plants completely to find out the full story behind invasive plants and what scientist are doing to fix the problem.

According to the Understanding Invasive Aquatic Weeds booklet, the three ways to control invasive plants and weeds include, mechanically, chemically, and biologically. Biological control seeks to reunite the invasive plant with its natural enemy to keep the plant from getting out of control. In the United States, invasive weeds damage and management costs exceed $30 billion each year. Invasive weeds cover about 100,000 million acres and each day, and the weeds cover an additional 4,500 acres of public lands and water. The damage invasive weeds is causing is spreading rapidly, as scientist do their best to find new ways to control the invasive plants. “We will never solve this problem in the environment, but we can find a solution to control invasive plants,” said invasive plants specialist Dr. Ken Langeland.

In the 1960s Hydrilla came upon scientist, and became problematic in the 70s. Hydrilla is a submersed plant that was brought to Florida in the 1950s from Asia to grow in aquariums. It can grow more than an inch each day and can fill water bodies that are as deep as 15 to 20 feet in only one year. When Hydrilla reaches the water surface, it forms tangled mats of plants. These tangled mats of plants are not allowing light or oxygen into the water, killing native plants, fish and other wildlife.

One of the mechanical machines used to pull up the weeds from Lake Alice, found on the campus of UF, is the steam engine founded in the 1890s. said Dr. Bill Haller “There are three types of invasive plants,” he said. “Floating, emergent, and submersed plants.” “The benefits of mechanical control include one being that you are able to use the water immediately after you spray to control the invasive plants.” “Mechanical control is not coast effective so we don’t use it a lot.”

“Invasive plants grow more rapidly in monsoon climates due to research.” confirms invasive plant specialist, Br. Bill Haller. We should be worried to know that not all invasive species to control the plants are inspected. “Inspectors check less than ten percent of the species,” said Dr. Steve Johnson, Doctor of invasive species. This is nerve-racking news to hear, knowing that invasive aquatic weeds are destroying fish and wildlife habitat, blocking navigation and flood control, and clogging drinking, irrigation and hydroelectric power water pipes. We can’t risk more harmful things into our environment; the inspectors should take more time and actually inspect every species being permitted into our state.

The UF Biological Control brochure informs us that the major advantage of classical biological control over chemical and mechanical methods is its permanence. Once a biological control agent is established in an area, it will remain and provide long-term suppression of the invasive plant. However, biological control will not completely eliminate a plant population from an area. Once the species has eaten and died down the invasive plant the species will die, due to lack of food (because they are host specific – they will not eat other plants).

There are many invasive plants in our world including Water Hyacinth, Alligator weed, Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia, and many more scientist are finding out about. Invasive plants is a growing problem that won’t end until more people become involved to find the solution we need to control all invasive plants. Get involved and support all the hard working scientist who are trying their hardest to give us the results we want and need to give us a beautiful environment we can live in and enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article, Lia!
    However, (I hope you don't mind...) I wanted to clarify a couple of things for your readers. The first sentence is a little confusing: The definition of an invasive plant is: "A species that is growing outside of cultivation and causing environmental or economic harm." So... if a plant is considered invasive, it is indeed harmful. I think what you were meaning to say is that "nonnative" plant species aren't necessarily harmful...and that's true. A non-native plant species is a plant that has been introduced to an area outside of its natural range. There are about 1000 nonnative plant species in Florida and only about 10 percent are considered invasive. I hope you don't mind me making this suggestion.
    Keep up the great work! amy (the lady in the crazy plant costume)