Second Saturdays: Invasion of the Invasives!

The Ameal Moore Nature Center always enjoys hosting educational days.  This past Second Saturdays event was all about invasive species (which can be classified as a sort of living pollution) in honor of Earth Day.

During the event visitors were able to learn about what makes a species invasive, why they’re a negative thing, and how private citizens can make a difference in the battle against invasive species.  Specific invasive species within the park and throughout California were focused on and discussed.  Visitors were also invited to make origami paper frogs while learning about the American Bullfrog (an invasive frog to the West coast but native to the East coast and parts of the Mid-West), and invasive stink bug rings while learning about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (native in East Asia but invasive to the USA).

For future events please check our calendar!  Our next Second Saturdays event will be May 9th, and will focus on native plants and their uses!  We look forward to seeing you here with us!

 

In case you missed it, here’s a brief overview of what visitors were able to learn about!

What is an invasive species?  A species is invasive when it is not from a local area and is damaging to its new environment.

How do they get here?  In the case of plants, seeds can be dispersed by animals, people, or even the wind.  With insects and animals, they are often introduced into a new environment due to human help (sometimes we purposely bring them into a new area, sometimes accidentally).

Why are invasive species bad?  Invasive species often unbalance the ecosystems that they are introduced to.  They do not always have a known predator in their new environment.  This can mean that they will grow in population and out compete or out number and over hunt the native species in an area which may lead to native species extinctions.  Invasive plants can actually cause something called landscape transformation, which can include increases in soil erosion and even fire hazards.

Are all invasive species bad?  No!  A species that is non-native but also not damaging is called non-invasive, alien, and or exotic.  Not all non-native species can survive in their new habitats either.  If there is no food source or way for them to reproduce, then they will not be able to survive or multiply.  This does mean, however, that a species can be exotic in one area and invasive in another if it can cause damage to one area but not the other.

What can I do to help?  There are many ways to help maintain balance to our ecosystems.  Below is a list of five things that you can do!

  1. Plant native plants in your yard and around your property.
    Native plants not only help maintain the ecosystem, but are also good because they are drought tolerant (in Southern California) and therefore water wise, have their own defenses against native pests, and are good for the good insects (such as local honey bees).  You can find native plants at local nurseries that specialize in carrying them.
  2. Do not release pets into the wild, parks, or preserves.
    Some people buy tadpoles as pets but release them once they turn into frogs.  Many of the tadpoles for sale are actually invasive (to California) American Bullfrogs.  People think that they are providing a new home for their old pets when in reality they are unbalancing an ecosystem!
  3. Be careful of what you dump in waterways.
    Dumping plants into waterways can be dangerous as water plants native to one area can flow down river and be invasive to another area.  Invasive species can take hold and destroy a waterway’s ecosystem or clog it!
  4. Do not purchase invasive animals or plants.
    Many invasive plants and animals are actually available for legal purchase.  By doing a small amount of research you can determine if an animal or plant is invasive to your area and can make the choice to help keep them out of your area.
  5. Do not purchase illegal animals or plants.
    Some plants and animals are illegal because they are invasive to an area.  It is important to pay attention to the laws surrounding these species and to follow them to ensure that your environment stays protected.

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